‘Best’ Story — Les Best
Otis Best started fixing
cars in 1923 with Harry Mullett, owner of Mullett Motor
Sales located at 236 North Main Street. Harry first sold Star-Durant
automobiles then later sold DeSoto, Plymouth and the Peerless
brands. In 1931 Peerless went out of business during the Great
In March 1931 Otis Best and Harry
Dean formed a partnership, Dean and Best General Repair Shop
located at 1121 North Main Street where North Road forms a triangle
shaped lot. Later, they moved their repair shop to 100 West Federal
Street.(Note, The street address later changed to 100 East Federal
when Main Street rather than Vienna Avenue began to be used for
An Oldsmobile franchise was awarded
to Dean and Best in October 1941 at the 100 West Federal address.
As written in their partnership agreement, neither Best nor Dean
could buy out the other partner’s share of the dealership,
so in 1948 Smith-Sherwood bought the Oldsmobile franchise from
Dean and Best. Sherwood bought Smith’s interest and the
dealership became Sherwood Oldsmobile in 1950.
Otis Best had begun working at Stiver
Chevrolet on North Main Street as service manager during 1949-1950.
Late in 1950, Otis returned to Sherwood Oldsmobile as service
manager. Otis’ son, Rod Best, also worked at Sherwood
Oldsmobile from 1950-1958. In 1958 Otis and Rod and Rod’s
other son, Duane, bought 1024 North Main Street, across
from the American Legion Hall and on the same side of North Main
as Dr. West’s Animal Clinic. Rod worked as shop mechanic
and salesman. Otis died in 1970 after leaving the shop some years
Jack Sandman bought the
building at 116 East Federal Street and Best Auto Service maintained
their business in this building until closing in April 2002. Rod’s
wife, Shirley, ran the front office for many years. Les
Best, Rod’s older son began working in 1968 until reaching
college age. Rod’s younger son, Doug, also worked
at this location and obtained an associate degree in Automotive
Sales Marketing. Something must have been in the Best genetics
that caused nephews and cousins to moonlight at the shop turning
wrenches and diagnosing vehicle troubles. Rod Best retired in
1994 while Les and Doug continued the repair shop business until
it closed in 2002.
As the years passed, Best Auto Service
grew into a community partner. It represented what cities like
Girard, McDonald and Niles prided themselves on and seek to be
remembered for- being a part of a thriving, trusted family business.
Children would often bring in their bicycles for tire and seat
repair, at no cost. Many music stands from local high schools
received a fresh coat of black paint in the spray booth.
Customers would arrive at 9 AM for
a cup of coffee and leave hours later, now caught up on each other’s
family happenings. It was not unusual for a customer to answer
the phone when all the employees were busy. Best Auto Service
cars were in Halloween and Fourth of July parades; even leading
the opening lap at Sharon Speedway. Countless cars in Niles wore
the recognizable silver “Best Auto Sales” sticker
on the back bumper.
Unfortunately, as the automotive
industry evolved, small area businesses, like Best Auto Repair,
began to feel the pain of a changing economy and competing with
super-sized dealers. After 77 years of serving the Niles’
community, their garage doors were closed.