Value Transmission in Skokie motors on for 25 years
Avery Tarhsis, owner of Value Transmission in Skokie, is seen here in his office. Value Transmission moved a few blocks to Skokie Boulevard a couple of years ago because of an eminent domain case. | Mike Isaacs~Sun-Times Media
NAME: Value Transmission
ADDRESS: 8241 Skokie Blvd.
PHONE: (847) 677-4244
Updated: October 28, 2012 6:13AM
SKOKIE — Value Transmission owner Avery Tarshis has two upcoming milestones to celebrate, though he’s not likely to make a big deal of either one.
Tarshis’ vehicle-repair business is soon to mark 25 years in Skokie, 23 of them in the same place.
That’s where the second milestone comes in: At the end of December, Value Transmission will mark its second year at 8241 Skokie Blvd., only a handful of blocks from its 23-year home at 4829 Dempster St.
Tarshis, 62, was forced to uproot his business after Skokie’slongest eminent domain case in the village’s history. His landlords challenged the village’s right to declare eminent domain against a business they said was successful and on property that was not blighted. Eventually the case was settled.
Value Transmission landed relatively close to its old location, but not at as visible a spot, Tarshis said. He estimates that he lost thousands of dollars because of the forced move, and nearly two years later some still have a hard time finding the business.
The village didn’t provide monetary assistance to help him move — its own policy — but it helped him procure the property more efficiently.
The Value Transmission original location and a small piece of property next to it are being used for a new prototype Oberweis Dairy store and hamburger joint that village leaders are hoping will help revitalize the West Dempster Street area. Skokie leaders have always viewed the property as an important piece for redeveloping the West Dempster Street Corridor, which is why they fought hard to acquire it.
The move did result in needed additional space for the shop: At 6,000 square feet, it is triple the size of its original home.
Value Transmission remains a reflection of a successful small business, though Tarshis said the sour economy and other factors have presented challenges for everyone.
“Business in general, whether you’re a dry cleaners on the corner or whether you’re General Motors is challenging these days,” he said. “This is where everyone’s at, whether it be a small business that employs a half-dozen people or a huge corporation that employs hundreds or more.”
Value Transmission opened in 1988 in Skokie, where Tarshis grew up. He was in the automobile-parts business and then worked for a vehicle-rebuilding shop on Chicago’s South Side before he struck out on his own with three employees. He now has six.
“Things back then were probably longer-term prospects than they might be today,” Tarshis said. “I tell my kids that in those days, you graduated from college and you stayed in a job until you got a gold watch. Today, you may change not only jobs many times but even occupations.”
Some automobile shops have benefitted from the recession,since more people are trying to get by with fixing older vehicles instead of buying new ones. This is true for Value Transmission — but only up to a point.
“You have to understand that I deal in expensive repairs,” Tarshis said. “It’s not like putting four tires on a car. Some repairs are minor and we can get people out for a lot less than they thought they were going to spend. But many of the repairs are quite expensive and in some cases, it would make a nice down payment on a new car.”
The shop performs transmission repairs and overhauls, four-wheel-drive repairs, differential rebuilding, drivetrain work and more. Tarshis is at the shopat 6:30 a.m. six days a week.
They continue making the same kind of repairs Value Transmission has been known for nearly a quarter-century. That won’t change anytime soon, the owner said.
“I talked to my accountant,” Tarshis said, smiling. “I had a meeting with him the other day. He said I can retire the day after I die.”
He is joking, of course, but Tarshis is serious in realizing that small businesses exactly like his own provide the community with something special.
“Every big-box business that I see no matter what it is trying to sell everything from Corn Flakes to work boots,” he said. “They’re trying to get every last dollar they can get out of the customer’s pocket. There’s very few stores or companies today that started out with a mission and remain to that mission true. That’s been us.”