Greg Tesoriero started working at age 12, pumping gas on weekends at his father’s business, Tony’s Hi-Speed Service Station, on South Irvine Avenue in Masury.
“It’s weekends, my buddies are all playing baseball over on Addison, I’m pumping gas,” Greg said, any
lingering bitterness tempered with what he got out of the experience.
“It gave me the work ethic,” he said, a work ethic that carried over to business ownership after his father,
Tony, got into selling auto parts, and built a store for that purpose across the street. “50 years of working weekends, holidays,” Greg said. “For 30 years, I was working seven days a week.”
That ended Sept. 22 when Greg closed Tony’s Auto Parts.
Greg, 64, said he doesn’t have any expectations for what it will be like not to work, “but I’m looking
forward to finding out.
“Everybody’s telling me, ‘After six months, you’re gonna be going crazy.’ I want the opportunity to go
crazy. (I want to) Watch a Monday night football game to the end, not worrying that I have to go to work
the next day, and go to sleep at halftime and miss the great play.”
Still, he experienced a mix of emotions as customers came to wish him well on his retirement.
“Sometimes, you don’t know that they’re appreciative of things you did in the past,” Greg said on Sept.
22. “Today, a lot of well-wishers, Yesterday, a lot of well-wishers. It kind of makes you feel sad and
happy at the same time.”
The Tony’s Auto Parts story starts with Tesoriero’s mother, Ann Kovack Tesoriero, who was living in
Masury, going to New York to visit her sister. On that trip, she met Tony Tesoriero.
“He must have fell in love and chased her back here,” their son said.
They married in 1934.
“He (Tony) started working down at Malleable (in Sharon) and hated it, so he decided he wanted to work
for himself, started pumping gas.”
The gas station opened in the mid-’40s.
“He started getting into auto parts in ’66, across the street (at the gas station), but there was no room,”
Greg said. “In ’71, he started building this building and we had the grand opening in ’73.”
Wally Sinkuc, who grew up with Greg on Stateline Road in Masury, said he has a lot of good memories
of the store.
“Tony would come down, 10 or 11 o’clock at night, if you needed something, open up, give you a part,”
Greg said. “I (can) still see him today, smoking a big cigar, his (Greg’s) brother Bob in the back with his
index” cards for inventory.
“It’s sad,” Sinkuc, of Farrell, said of the store closing. “Another dinosaur dies.”
After Bob moved to Florida and Tony backed off because of health issues, Greg took over the store and
his sister, Joanne Dailey, kept the books, though Tony was never far away.
“He would come in two days a week,” Greg said. “My mother would wheel him in in a wheelchair. He’d
be here, just making sure everything’s running right.”
Tony died in 1994, and Ann in 2005.
Greg said he had a three-pronged approach to business: provide high-quality parts at a good price and
offer great service.
“You can go out there and buy a lot of cheaper stuff, but in the long run, it’s gonna come back and bite
you because they’re gonna bring it back,” he said. “It’s not gonna hold up, and then you’re gonna have that
reputation, ‘They’re selling junk.’”
The service came from a stable, knowledgeable staff, Greg said.
“My guys have been with me, most of them, 20 years, so we have the knowledge,” he said. “They
(customers) come to us because, if they have a problem, a lot of times, my guys can diagnose it, help
The parts business became trickier when cars became more reliant on electronics, and manufacturers
changed parts more frequently.
“It used to be, for 10 years, one part, like, for a Chevy, a distributor cap or a rotor, it fit ’em all,” Greg
said. “Then they started changing every other year. Then, the electronics came in. Now, it’s like every
year it’s just new parts, new part numbers.”
That made it harder for an independent parts dealer because it had to stock more parts.
“We try to keep a lot of the old stuff in stock for the people that knew, if you can’t find it anywhere else,
Tony’s is gonna have it,” Greg said.
He tried to sell the business, but admitted his reluctance to let it go probably played a role in his inability
to make a deal.
“I wasn’t gonna give them a great deal,” Greg said.
Instead, he sold the property to Salam J. Elwanni of Hubbard.
Greg, who lives in Hermitage, said he has no immediate plans in retirement other than to spend more time
at his place in Florida with his wife, Mary Beth, and consider moving there.
“I wanna thank our loyal customers for the years of service, coming in, and keeping us in business,” said
the father of two sons. “A lot of them have become good friends over the years. I’m getting a little choked
up, now. I just wanna thank them and wish them all the luck in the world.
UPDATE: The building was demolished the week of Oct. 25.