A Magazine about the Hudson Valley’s local economy, published by Hudson Valley Current.

Jenkinstown Motors

Scott Cullen takes a customer phone call.

Scott Cullen’s hands have been tinkering with machinery for as long as he can remember. He got his first car when he was just 14 years old. Coming from a family of business owners as he did—his father owned Rexall Chemist in New Paltz—no one raised an eyebrow when he left school two years later to find his way in the world. Eventually that way led him to establish Jenkinstown Motors in New Paltz, an auto shop that specializes in fairly priced, honest service, with a particular emphasis on Japanese and domestic automobiles. Cullen prefers being the boss to being an employee, something he confirmed when he closed down the business and took a seven-year hiatus. When he reopened in 2009, he kept the recognizable name, despite now being on Ohioville Road rather than Jenkinstown, where the first shop was located.

“It’s a very hard business,” he says of auto repair, but an important one, too: “Auto repair is the backbone of any community, especially in the Hudson Valley,” where public transportation, in his estimation, is only useful “if you’re unemployed.”

“If people don’t have their cars, they can’t get to work, or pick up the kids, or run their errands; it can be very stressful. They can’t even get to yoga class to reduce the stress.” Rather than compete on price, he prefers to offer his customers quality parts and repairs that last, promising honest value over cheap gimmicks to keep them coming back. As a result, he has served up to four generations of the same family.

Cullen started his career working on cars for cash, right out of his home. His parents moved to New Paltz when he was very young, and he’s lived in the Hudson Valley ever since. “I realized I must go legit, or be limited in what I could do. I decided to go down that rabbit hole and start the business.” It was a classic bootstrapped operation, too: there was no Kickstarter, no bank loans, no angel benefactors eager to invest in a young mechanic. “I’m stubborn,” he said. “I knew I had a quality product, and a high moral standard,” standards he’s stuck with. He built a relationship with his customers one car at a time, and it’s easy to hear in his voice how seriously he takes that work. “This isn’t a plate of eggs you can send back to the kitchen,” he said. “This is safety, and mobility. It’s a big responsibility.”

He considers the impact on the community, too. He supports more causes than he can remember and has invested in a water-based parts washer, rather than using chemical solvents. He credits architect Rick Alfandre for being an “amazing influence” on his environmental impact. Clients rest easier knowing Jenkinstown recycles more than the law requires as well. Being a positive part of the community is all part of the value Cullen brings to every job.

For more information visit jenkinstownmotors.com/ or call 845-255-2500.

–Terence P Ward