SWANTON –– From a young age, Chase Cota always knew he wanted to own an automotive shop, so at a young age, he opened one.
Chase was almost 20 when he opened Townline Auto on VT Rte. 78, on the Swanton-Highgate town line, across from Missisquoi Valley Union High School (MVU), where he graduated in 2003.
Now 29, Chase, a Swanton native, has seven employees working in his two-bay garage at Townline Auto. He also bought his 1-acre business property last October; until then, he had rented it.
Now, Chase is considering a long-term project: raze the current building and construct a larger one.
“When I build it,” he said, “I don’t want to have to add on down the road. I want it to be big enough.”
Currently, Townline Auto offers all general auto service, maintenance and repairs, but alignments have become a specialty. Townline has one of two four-wheel alignment machines in the Swanton area.
Townline Auto also has a 24-hour towing service, with three trucks stationed in Swanton – one of the needs for a new building, Chase said – and two others in Milton. According to Chase, Townline Auto has the third-highest number of AAA tow calls in Vermont.
Townline’s light-service vehicle can handle sudden roadside emergencies, such as a flat tire or empty gas tank.
“We’ve really been pushing the towing,” Chase said, noting that Townline Auto will cover AAA customers from Highgate to Richmond.
Chase and his wife, Fellicia, an art therapist at the Alburgh School, live in Swanton with their daughter, Selah, 2.
As a child, Chase spent lots of time at his father, Dennis’, former auto shop, Route 105 Auto, in Sheldon. Chase remembers that his father let him tinker with the dashboard of a late-‘80s-model Cadillac, when Chase was 8.
Chase worked at Route 105 Auto while he was at MVU and completed the two-year mechanics program at Bellows Free Academy-St. Albans.
He proceeded to earn his automotive technology degree from Ohio Technical College, in Cleveland, in 2005. Then he opened Townline.
Chase has changed his business philosophy over the years. When he first opened Townline, he singlehandedly took all the work he could, which sparked some crazy work hours.
Now, thanks to his good reputation, he can focus more on the managerial and business aspects of Townline Auto, which he enjoys.
Chase plans to keep Townline Auto in its current location, with a new building someday, because it’s close to Interstate 89, and his longtime regulars are accustomed to his location.
“It’s where I started with a lot of them,” he said.