DANSVILLE — Shay’s Service Inc. began as the heartbeat of a family legacy.
With McCarthy Tire moving to Horseheads at the end of the year it is good to sit and reflect on what this property has always meant to the community.
Although the property was sold to R&M Crown Holdings in 2014 the Shay family still has a lasting legacy within these walls.
There is a lot of rich family history in that small room that overlooks the parking lot, and it is there that Jon Shay considers himself the watchdog of the property.
Jon Shay and his brother Tim were involved in the various businesses up to the sale of Main Tire in 2012 when Jon retired. Tim stayed on for a couple years before his retirement and subsequent passing in 2016. Shay’s Service was sold in 1985 and Main Tire in 2012, with the sale of the entire Dansville property in 2014 to Chris Ramsey and Larry Mehlenbacher, dba R&M Crown Holdings.
In the mid 1920’s from his farm in Ossian Lloyd Shay began hauling petroleum products from the oil fields in Bolivar, NY and thus began a life for three generations in Transportation related industries. Lloyd and his son Harold “Tim” purchased nine acres of land on North Main Street in 1936 and that was the beginning of several different businesses on this site which will now be vacant—hopefully for a very short time—for the first time in 80 years. The first structure was a combination gas station, restaurant and office located right on Main Street, followed by a showroom and car garage for Shay Motors, a Cadillac-Oldsmobile franchise. The following years Shay Oil, Shay Trucks, Shay’s Service (1950) and Main Tire Exchange (1972) were all created by Harold. Additional acreage was purchased in the 1950’s from the former Gladner Scrap Yard on the North end of the property. The additional land allowed for the creation of Dansville Mini Storages which now stands at over 300 units.
“We didn’t know how successful that was going to be,” Jon Shay said. “We built eight of them, and the occupancy was phenomenal.”
Jon Shay still owns property in Buffalo and Rochester where McCarthy Tire still resides.
“We were all very surprised with the news,” he said. “I feel as bad as they (R&M Crown Holdings) do that they didn’t renew the lease. This will be the first time since 1936 that there won’t be a business here.”
Shay added it will be lonely without the other tenants.
“It is still a part of me,” he said. “I have an agreement with the owners that I can stay in this office for as long as I want.”
The bottom line is that all of the employees will get to keep their jobs if they don’t mind making the hour drive to Horseheads.
Shay will never forget his roots and the place he has held dear to his heart his entire life.
"Dansville has been very good to the Shay family and I hope in some small way we have been good for the community," Shay said. "The family has always been very proud to have provided so many employment opportunities for so many people over the 80 year span. Everything in life happens for reason so I’ll continue to watch from my office window to see what that might be."