Mike Phillips, owner of A&B Service in Pioche, says the business is celebrating 70 years of service this week. Originally started in 1944 by Art Hartley, Phillips’ grandfather, and Bob Hammond, the the gas and service station is one of the few locations where “full-service” is still offered. “That’s how I was taught, so that’s how we do it,” he said. When you go to A&B, they pump your gas and clean your windows. They also offer mechanic services, as well as tow service and have been a member of AAA for 40 years.
The first location for A&B Service was on Main Street, where today, Tillie’s stands. Phillips said the business moved sometime in the 1960s to LaCour Street, and they’ve been there ever since, located next to the Million Dollar Courthouse. Phillips thought the building might have been built sometime in the 1930s, by former residents including John Belingheri and others. It had first been an old Union Oil Station, and although he wasn’t sure if it had closed or how they obtained the building, he knew that for their twenty-fifth anniversary, in 1967, they were in the new building.
Phillips grew up at the gas station, working the cash register and learning about cars as a young teen. It’s the local “talk-shop” spot for the gentleman of the area, from cars to government, real estate and more.
Phillips bought the business from the gentlemen on April 15, 1985. “Grandpa wanted out on tax day, and that’s what we did,” says Phillips. Phillips is celebrating his twenty-ninth year as owner this week also. He said, “We haven’t changed it in 29 years either.”
Some modifications have occurred over time, however, due to government regulations and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “None of that was in effect when I bought it,” said Phillips. Over the years, he’s had to replace pipes and have other costly upgrades to comply.
A&B Service also sells welding gasses, which Phillips admits, just not as much as he used to. In the beginning, it was a highly-needed product, however due to restrictions on transporting the gasses and the lowering demand for the oxygen or acetylene, sales have decreased. Still, he offers the gasses for local welders.
A&B had Chevron gas from the very beginning, but switched with many other Chevron stations in the early 2000s to Sinclair gas. About the only other major change the business has seen was the implementing of 24-hour gas service with payment of credit cards at the pump.
The station still offers regular repairs for local residents as well as unfortunate tourists in need of a tire or new starter or alternator, and recently started offering ATV and snowmobile repairs. Other repair services include tire rotation, oil changes, transmission services, overall maintenance and needed accessories like varying belts, wipers, batteries, and tires. The station used to have numerous tires on stock in earlier years. “Nowadays, everyone’s got different tires, so we have to order them,” he said, although some more common sizes are available.
Phillips also offers 24-hour tow service, and still has the original 1971 Chevy truck that his grandpa used when Phillips took over. His grandfather had another one back in the 50s, but Phillips didn’t recall what kind it was. Today, he tows with an ‘86 Chevy, but both trucks can be seen at the station.
For 70 years, A&B Service has been providing it’s gas and auto supplies to residents and visitors of Pioche. Being one of the last-standing full-service gas stations, and with Phillips’ dedication to keeping it that way, it’s become one of our own county traditions to have it here.