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Taking full-service to a new level

By Daniel Kramer
Managing Editor
– Lee Lemens, manager of Gene’s Deep Rock full-service gas station located at 1792 Main St., Green Bay, doesn’t stand still for long.

He’s understaffed and either receiving auto parts, pumping gas, talking to a customer on the phone or discussing a repair with his service technician. Somewhere in there, he also conducted a job interview.

“I’m doing all the paperwork,” Lemens said. “I had to run to the bank and do the deposits this morning. Yeah, I’m spread pretty thin.”

Lemens, 63, started working at Gene’s in 1982 as a mechanic and said there were a few other full-service stations in town at that time but they have all since closed.

He said these days, he gets people that come in for gas from De Pere, Luxemburg, Denmark and the West Side.

“They come here just for the full service,” Lemens said. “There are some people out there, they just can’t pump gas — they don’t know how or physically can’t. I have a lot of handicapped people that can’t pump gas.

Gene’s Deep Rock Manager Lee Lemens visits with longtime customer Cindy Bell on Monday, Nov. 14, 2022. Daniel Kramer photo

“They have a hard time just giving me their credit card. A lot of the elderly and community-care people come here.”

Donna Wesley, 82, was sitting in the corner waiting for an oil change and reading a novel by Fern Michaels called I’ll Be Home for Christmas, and said that when she got her first car as a teenager, they had all full-service gas stations.

“I come here because I’ve never pumped gas in my life,” she said. “After I got married, my husband Gerald would pump my gas.

“He’s passed away, he’s been gone seven years. So they take good care of my car and I’m glad they’re here to pump my gas for me.”

Lee knows most of his customers and many are longtime regulars.

He is filling up a red Prius and says “Yea, this is Chuck; he’s been a customer since I’ve been here.”

He pauses, helps a customer reset the clock in his car and then resumes:

“A lot of them, I can tell you how they’re going to pay and how much they’re going to get. Cindy Bell, in the Impala, has been coming since I’ve been here. Her husband died probably in the late 80s and this guy with the clock is married to Cindy’s daughter.”

“I’ve got generations coming in here. Parents, grandparents, daughters, sons all come here.”

“There’s nothing worse than having a car issue. Sometimes I have customers that are crying and I have to comfort them.”

One might think that gas at a full-service station would be more expensive than other stations, but Lemens says they’re usually the same price.

Bell, 69, has been coming to Gene’s Deep Rock for about 38 years.

“I trust Gene implicitly,” she said. “I like that it’s walking distance from my house so I can drop off my car and then walk home. So I get some steps in.”

“You know, I think they do good work. After my husband died, I came in and, you know, the next time I needed to buy a car, I checked with Gene to see if they would service that type of car before I bought it.”

Ben Binon has worked at Gene’s Deep Rock for about four years.

Previously, he spent 30 years as the automotive tech instructor at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

“I’ve known Gene and Lee for years and years and years,” he said. “So yeah, they’re super — and most of the customers — are super nice.”

“We try to do a good job and we don’t try to sell them stuff they don’t need.”

“I mean, we get a lot of elderly here that can’t afford a lot.”

“If it doesn’t need it for a safety issue, we don’t really push it because people are living off their social security.”
“They count on Leon (Lee). I don’t know what some of them are going to do when Leon is gone — they’re trusting and they put a lot of trust in Leon and, the thing is, Leon knows his customers.
“I can’t believe his memory.”

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