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Federal Way's G&M Honest Performance revs up auto enthusiasts
G&M Honest Performance is known for being a longtime staple in the community, but it also holds the distinction of being the only independently-owned auto parts business in Federal Way.
G&M is co-owned by Steve Grove and Chris Martin. The store, at 33210 Pacific Highway S., has been independently located and operated for nearly 28 years. It offers the standard vehicle parts and accessories for street cars. But it is known for being a speed shop, specializing in hot rods, muscle cars and drag racing vehicles.
"It's our kind of niche," Grove said.
G&M, from appearance to services, differs from its competitors. The store is essentially three entities combined: A parts and accessories area, a service shop and a machine shop. All six staff members have worked with cars for most of their lives. Combined, they have roughly 120 years of hands-on experience. They speak from experience and are willing to share their knowledge.
The atmosphere is reminiscent of a well-kept and clean home garage, complete with classic rock. Photos, some dating back to 1985, hang throughout the retail space, showing off the pride and joy of both staff and customers — their cars. Some are personally signed with thank-you's from customers grateful for G&M's help in souping up, tidying up or prettying up their cars. A clean engine from a Chevelle sits on display near the back of the store.
"We kind of pride ourselves in we don't look like a regular auto store," Grove said. "We don't want to be like the cookie cutter auto stores."
The retail space features parts and accessories for a variety of makes, models and years. Parts for newer vehicles are offered and stocked. So too are high performance parts and items for hot rods, like a 1966 Ford Mustang. Customers travel great distances to visit G&M because they know it will have what they need, Martin said.
"They have all the parts that nobody else has," said customer Curt Delp of Tacoma.
The second element to G&M is its service shop. Custom remodeling work is done here. Transmissions are rebuilt or installed. Everyday engines are replaced with roaring high performance engines. Vehicles are lowered. Body work is done. Aluminum is cut, welded and bent in shop. Classic beater cars become something to gape at.
In the back is a machine shop. Here, cylinder heads are rebuilt. Flywheels are surfaced. Brake rotor and drum machining take place. Customers include other local auto repair shops.
Ups and downs
Being independently owned has its advantages and disadvantages. The store is not adorned with flashy signs and doesn't carry a high name recognition among everyday folks. This makes the budget a bit tighter. But Grove and Martin don't have to consult a corporate office when they see a need for change. They interact with their customers and speak from experience.
The store fills a niche. While some corporately-owned Federal Way auto stores have been bought out, and others have gone out of business, G&M Honest Performance has survived. It has outlasted bigger names such as Napa and Pep Boys.
"We've watched so many other auto parts stores come and go," Grove said.
Grove and Martin are two guys, without business degrees, who turned their passion into a successful business at an early age. Their expertise comes from working as auto store managers in the 1980s, and from tinkering with their own hot rod and drag racing vehicles. They both still work at their store.
"There's nothing else I really ever wanted to do," Grove said.