Editor’s note: Westhill Auto is not closing.
When some people retire, it’s like they never did because they keep working or stay busy with other interests. Paul Simeon is making a complete break with his working past – he’s moving to another country.
The co-founder of Westhill Automotive, the car repair shop with locations on Boyd Street in Masury and in Shenango (Pa.) Township, and his wife, Vera, have staked out a little place in the side of a volcano in the state of Colima, Mexico, about 12 hours drive from the U.S. border.
“We thought about it, prayed about it,” he said, taking a break from setting up for an Aug. 14 retirement
and customer appreciation party at the Boyd Street shop.
“I did a lot of research for the last couple years, trying to figure out a place that checked a lot of the boxes
off: affordability, great healthcare, great weather, safety. It’s a very nice, rural area, the food’s great, a lot
of organic foods.”
After 32 years of working long hours and dealing with the decisions of owning a small business – with
brothers David, another co-founder, and Lee, who joined the operation later – Paul, 60, said he’s ready to
not work. He and Vera will focus on integrating into their new community, one of which he doesn’t speak
“We don’t want to rush into anything,” said Paul, who lives in Brookfield. “We’ll get down there, and God
will open a door for us. I’m not saying we don’t have any plans at all, but we’re just gonna kinda go with
the flow, at least for the first year or two, and then see what happens.”
Leaving the business he and David built from scratch, “There’s gonna be a lot of mixed feelings,” Paul
said. “It’s a family-run business. It’s gonna be hard in one way and it’s gonna be gratifying in another,
knowing that I’m leaving somewhat of a legacy.”
Four generations of Simeons have been involved in Westhill Auto, from Paul’s dad, Frank, who was a
fixture at the Boyd Street location until he developed health issues, to Paul’s granddaughter, Xylia, 17,
who works part time.
“We got a lot of technicians that have been here for a long time,” Paul said. “I got a couple guys that have
been here close to 20 years. We have a good solid core of technicians, management, so I think
everything’s in place. Since I announced my retirement, it’s been hard to delegate the work that I’ve been
doing, but it’s coming along. This is an easier transition than if I would have got hurt, some tragedy had
Since the business opened in 1989, the Simeons have tried to treat their customers right, and the same
goes for their neighbors, considering they are located in a residential neighborhood, Paul said.
“We run our business with Christian values, and we really try to treat the customers as family,” he said.
“That’s really worked well for us.”
The customers have responded by bringing doughnuts, cakes and gift cards for the shop staff.
“I’m gonna miss the daily hugs,” said Vera, who has kept the books since about 1992. “The customers are
our life, our friends. You can’t replace them. I’ll miss every single one of them.”
Paul and David opened Westhill Auto after they had been working at a repair shop in Texas. They wanted
to return home and start their own business.
“We were actually looking to start a restaurant, believe it or not,” Paul said. “We wanted to get away from
working on cars. We looked at a restaurant in Hubbard. We came real close to buying that.”
However, when someone pointed out that the former Dan’s Auto Body building on Boyd Street, which
had been vacant for about 10 years, was still for sale, they checked it out.
“It was in really, really rough shape,” Paul said, with graffiti written all over it, the windows boarded up
and a hole in the roof, but they saw potential in it.
“We just decided to take the dive and see if we can’t make it happen,” Paul said. “No working capital, no
customer base, just a lot of prayer, and it was a total blessing.”