Leon Selapack learned early on the meaning of work, and the values he learned from his father he has tried to pass on to his children.
Cameron Selapack and his sister Danielle are taking over L & L Transmission, the business founded 40 years ago by their parents Leon and Lee Ann.
Leon grew up in Buffalo and started working for his father in the construction business when he was very young. As that business was seasonal, he got a job at a transmission shop in Williamsville when he was only 15 or 16.
When he and his first wife bought land on Colby Road, Leon realized there was not a transmission shop in the Genesee County area. He established L & L Transmission with one bay in an old Kendall gas station at the corner of Liberty and Ellicott Street, across from the Pok-A-Dot. He hired George Stiles, who still works for L & L today.
Nearly two years later, urban renewal came along and he had to move. He bought a lot on Pearl Street and put up a shop there, where Brian King began cleaning floors at the age of 15. King is also still employed at the business.
His business continued to grow and he even transformed his barn at home and had three men rebuilding trannies there, Leon said.
L & L moved again to a larger facility on Hutchins Street, where they operated from 1990 to 1997.
When Lee and Charles Houseknecht decided to retire in 1997 and sell their 75-year-old truck repair shop on Alexander Road, the Selapacks bought it, where today the five bays and nine employees are always busy (not counting Cameron, Danielle and Leon).
Like their father, Cameron and Danielle starting helping Leon at a young age. Cameron was 12 when he began pulling transmissions apart and cleaning the shop, Leon said.
Danielle has been there 11 years, having started as a secretary out of college.
As for Leon, he and his second wife, Susan, have a 13-year-old son, Dalton, who is already learning the mechanical side of the business, as well as helping Leon on his farm.
“He’s not playing video games all the time,” Leon said.
While Leon still does the transmission work on old cars, he is scaling back a little from the shop, opting to spend more time farming, a passion he has always had. He also likes to hunt and fish, but still keeps a finger in the business.
“I had a leg injury two years ago and decided to start relinquishing some of the duties to the kids,” Leon said.
Since starting to take over L & L, Cameron started up the towing business again.
Both he and Danielle say they value the business ethics their parents instilled in them.
“You don’t tell someone they need a new tranny when they don’t,” Danielle said. “We try to be fair as possible. That’s how Mom and Dad started and that’s how we want to run the business.”
Their mother told them they might not make as much money, but they could sleep at night.
L & L hasn’t planned any special celebrations for their 40th anniversary – just to keep serving their customers as usual.
Leon said if he had one thing to say, it would be to thank all the customers who have supported them during the years – from Western New York and the Finger Lakes to Pennsylvania and Canada.
L & L has been a community supporter during its years in business, by sponsoring races at Genesee and Canandaigua raceways, donating to local fundraisers and sponsoring local events.
Top photo: Leon Selapack, who started L & L Transmission 40 years ago, stands at the counter of the shop, which is now located on Alexander Road, Batavia, in the building which formerly housed Houseknecht Motors. Photos by Virginia Kropf.
Cameron Selapack and his sister Danielle stand in front of one of their tow trucks at L & L Transmission on Alexander Road (Route 98), Batavia. The business, started by their father Leon and mother Lee Ann, is observing its 40th anniversary this year.