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Read about us in the Cambridge Chronicle, November 7,  2014.

  • Advance Tire celebrates 100 years as a constant in an ever-changing Kendall Square

    • By Sara Feijo 

      Posted Nov. 7, 2014 @ 8:34 am 


      Advance Tire in Cambridge has been passed down through generations of the Clay family for 100 years.
      Now, under the ownership of Hank Clay, the Broadway business has witnessed tremendous change in Kendall Square where it was once surrounded by family homes and is now hidden in between tall biotech buildings.
      “Every time I turn around, they're putting up a new building in the area,” manager Rick Ferraina, 45, said Monday. “Kendall Square is booming. Now, it's more like a downtown Boston, where 25 years ago it was still a neighborhood.”
      But the main purpose of the business remains the same despite landscape and clientele changes, Clay said. Customer service is still as important as when Clay's grandfather opened the business in 1914.
      “A 100-year-old business, does it mean they're still going to be around forever? It's only as good as your service for your last customer,” Clay, 72, said.
      Clay, of Newton, proudly wore an adorned deep-blue uniform as he took a trip down memory lane in the reception area of his family's business. It turns out he might have not ended up working in the automotive repair industry if it weren't for his father, who brought him to the family's rethreading center when he was just 9 years old.
      It was a summer day and Clay's dad hired him to make threads that would then be placed on tires, Clay recalled. Clay's compensation was simple: $3 per week and free lunch, he said.
      When Clay asked his father why he had him working at such a young age when most kids were enjoying their summers at the beach, his father's response was sharp and logical.
      “He said: ‘Well, you were just not a very nice kid, and I had to keep you away from your mother. I think you would've killed each other,'” Clay, who grew up in Cambridge, said laughing.
      The automotive repair industry, however, has evolved throughout the years due to technological advances. There are now winter, all-weather and all-season tires and multiple steering and suspension components that play different roles in vehicles, just to name a few.
      “We do a lot more electronic stuff than I did when I first started doing this 25 years ago,” Ferraina said in between taking care of customers.
      For Clay, new and improved technology is one of the most attractive aspects of the industry, along with personal contact and forming long-lasting friendships with customers, he said.
      “I tell a lot of our old-time customers, ‘You make our job enjoyable, because we enjoy seeing you continuously,'” Clay said. “It's old friends. It's a social thing.”
       The clientele has also shifted over the years from more family-centered to working professionals, but the core of Advance Tire is still top-notch customer service, they said.
      The business has become a car repair hangout for the locals, who like to watch the seven-man crew work on 40 to 50 cars daily, and it was listed No. 3 in the Boston A List for automotive repair shops in the area, they said.
      “I meet people from every part of the world, and we fix their cars,” Ferraina said. “We've made a lot of friends throughout the years.”
      Advance Tire is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8:30 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
      For more information, call 617-864-8989, or visit

Advance Tire Company 185 Broadway Cambridge, MA 02139 Phone: (617) 864-8989Admin Login
Fax: (617) 864-8991