Harry J. Smith Co. has received a great late birthday gift for its 100th year of operation: recognition as Business of the Year from the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce.

The owner of the repair shop on Sanger Avenue in Waterville, Randy Belanger, said he’s honored to be the owner of the company at the time of the award.

“It’s great recognition. Being a hundred years old in this area, there’s not many people can say (that),” Belanger said Tuesday.

When Harry J. Smith opened his shop in Waterville in 1917, he was doing blacksmith work and adapted as the times change. Later, the businessman worked on wagon wheels and horse-drawn carriages, and then automobiles.

Today the shop employs 13 people and handles all forms of vehicle repairs and specializes in wheel alignment, suspension and brake repairs and state inspections.

“For a lesson in proper succession planning, small businesses in the Waterville area do not have to look any further than Harry J. Smith Co. Since not long after the automobile made its way to mid-Maine, the generations of Harry J. Smith employees have been keeping their clients safe and on the road quickly,” said Kimberly Lindlof, the president and chief executive officer of the Mid-Maine Chamber. “One hundred years is an amazing achievement and Mid-Maine Chamber commends its owners, managers and employees throughout the years for its longevity.”

Belanger, who worked at the company for 24 years before buying it in 2013, is the fifth owner in the company’s history. Belanger, of Norridgewock, bought the repair shop from Dan Veilleux, who had owned it since 1983.

He said that in addition to doing good work at a fair price, a major reason for the company’s continued success is its longevity.

“Being a hundred-year-old company, we have a huge clientele,” Belanger said. “We see the same 200 people over and over and over again. A lot of our clients are like family, so it’s always a first-name basis with us.”

Emily Higginbotham — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @EmilyHigg

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