The Chronicles of Crawford’s Auto Center, Inc.
Crawford’s Auto Center Inc. dates as far back as the late 1930’s when William Behrndt Sr. opened the family’s first mechanical garage in the borough of Downingtown providing mechanical repairs to the local community. This first location was on Mary Street where William and his wife Marian began to raise their family in Downingtown.
Over time, the family business went through a series of transitions. In 1940 the business moved from Mary Street in Downingtown to a location on Route 113 at Garris Road. At this new location the Behrndt family had a general store and repair shop. The family also moved to a small farmette next to the new location. William and Marian raised their sons, William Jr. “Bill” and Crawford who helped with the family business as well as hold other jobs until both sons enlisted in the Army during World War II. After the war, they both returned to Chester County to raise their own families and continue the family business.
These buildings were later demolished due to the widening of Route 113 in 1955. The family rebuilt the general store, repair shop, and a gas station. The gas station was built on the old site and named “Crawford’s Flying A”. Crawford operated the gas station and the garage business while Bill operated the salvage operation on the south side of Route 113 (Crawford’s Auto Center’s current location). These buildings still stand today but through the years the businesses have changed.
In the late 1950s both William Behrndt Sr. and Marian passed away. Their sons Bill and Crawford took over the responsibilities of the general store and gas station later leading to full time employment.
As the community around Downingtown grew so did the business. In the 1960s the Behrndt’s began operating out of their current location at the corner of Route 113 and Bell Tavern Boulevard. The Exxon Corporation purchased the Crawford’s Flying A in 1966, which allowed Crawford to move across the street and work alongside his brother.
In 1967, a new building was erected and the name was changed to Crawford’s Auto Center with Bill and Crawford running the day to day operations. The new business specialized in 24 hour towing and recovery, mechanical repairs, and salvage parts. On February 14, 1973, Bill, the eldest of the Behrndt brothers passed leaving his half of the partnership to his wife Alice. Crawford continued to manage the business after the passing of his brother until May 1980.
The most recent transition for Crawford’s Auto Center took place in May of 1980 when Bill’s sons, Steve and Jeff took over the day-to-day operations of the family business. This transition incorporated Steve’s previous business, Pickering Auto Body, and the towing and recovery business under the same name.
As Chester County attracted new people into the region the business continued to grow. In 1990 Crawford’s Auto Center began as an authorized service provider on the Pennsylvania Turnpike between the Downingtown and the Reading Interchanges and continued providing this service for 17 years.
Today Crawford’s Auto Center is managed and operated by Steve and his wife Barb. They have kept Crawford Auto Center in the family by involving their four children in the daily routines of the business. Crawford’s continues to provide collision repairs, towing / roadside assistance and mechanical repairs as well as providing consumer awareness to their customers. Crawford’s Auto Center is an independent collision repair facility that looks out for their customer’s best interest and assists them with their insurance claims.