Rockport Automotive was one of six Maine companies to receive the 2017 Governor's Award for Business Excellence at a reception held at the Blaine House in Augusta last week. The 27th annual awards, administered by the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, recognize businesses that demonstrate a high level of commitment to their community, employees and excellence in service.

In the five years since they took over the Commercial Street business, owners Jan and Eric Campbell have specialized in providing their customers with attentive service while practicing fiscal responsibility within the company, President Jan. Campbell said.

"I am honored to represent my employees, and the citizens and organizations of Knox County — without them none of this is possible, and I truly value the support of the community members," said Jan Campbell Dec. 18. "We have tried to break down the barriers and be different from other businesses in the automotive service and repair industry."

One of the ways that Rockport Automotive has separated itself from the pack is by offering customers a firsthand look at the work that is being conducted on their vehicle:

"Education is the foundation of a great service experience; instead of just telling someone that one of the tie rods on their car is worn out and needs to be replaced, we will take the customer out to see the part, explain to them how it works, and familiarize them with the parts of their vehicle," Campbell said.

Every October the team at Rockport Automotive offers a free car clinic to members of the public, and in May they organize the "Sisterhood of Automotive Knowledge" clinic, also free, which has been attended by up to 50 women who are interested in dispelling some of the mysteries of auto repair.

"When Eric and I bought Rockport Automotive, we wanted to break those barriers and really be different in this industry. We made a commitment to the process of social responsibility. I say 'process' because we are constantly balancing social choices with fiscal choices. The most important is that if we are not fiscally responsible and making a profit, we will not be able to make good choices for the environment or our employees, because we won't be in business," Campbell said.

One decision which married social and fiscal concerns was when Jan and Eric switched their oil delivery service from a large trucking company to a smaller, Maine-based company called Dysarts. The previous oil provider lacked consistent quality as well as documentation, and Dysarts delivers oil in a small box truck in a plastic bag within a cardboard box — both of which are recyclable.

"We are now paying a minimum of 52 cents less per quart on our synthetic oils, a savings which we can pass on to our customers … and we are proud to have eliminated the presence of even one tractor-trailer in our neighborhood," Campbell said.

One of the longstanding traditions at Rockport Automotive has been the donation of $5 from every oil change to a charitable organization. To date, Rockport Automotive has donated more than $25,000 to organizations including the Area Interface Outreach Food Bank, P.A.W.S. Animal Adoption Center, the Camden-Rockport Babe Ruth baseball league and the Camden Area Nursing Association.