"I never imagined that this company would grow to be the size and scope it is today. Without the support & sacrifice of my family, none of this would have happened. My success is credited to them."
- Bill Johnson, President
In 1970, Robert (Bob) Ahern opened Bob’s Auto Body in Granby, MA at Five Corners. After a few months operating the body shop, he made the decision to open a towing company which would bring wrecked vehicles into his shop. Thus, Hampshire Towing was born! Soon after adding the towing company, Bob opened a second office in South Hadley Falls and Hampshire Towing was towing for both the towns of Granby and South Hadley.
In the fall of 1978, William (Bill) Johnson started working for Bob in the body shop doing frame repairs and body work. After observing the varying operations in the business, Bill took an interest in the towing aspect, also. During the days he worked in the shop, and on nights and weekends, you would find him in the tow truck. Bill followed this rigorous schedule until July 1981 when he opened up his own body shop and towing company in Granby: Pleasant Street Auto Body & Repair*.
Through the following years, Bob and Bill remained friendly competitors and colleagues. When Bob closed down Bobs Auto Body in 1995, it was a natural fit for Bob to come work for Bill at Pleasant Street Auto. However, both Bob and Bill ran their respective towing companies independently throughout the next year. In 1996, Bill purchased Hampshire Towing from Bob and consolidated the towing operations into one business. Hampshire Towing was now a three-truck operation under the ownership of William E. Johnson, and a division of Pleasant Street Auto Body & Repair, Inc.
Much to Bill’s pleasure, Pleasant Street Auto Body & Repair, Inc., dba Hampshire Towing had already started becoming a true family enterprise: both of Bill’s sons helped out in the shop as teenagers after school, and Bill’s wife, Tracey, began working full time in 1994 as the office manager. Later, in 1996, Bill’s eldest son, Robert, joined the company as a full-time tow truck driver. As the end of the decade drew nearer, Hampshire Towing was continually expanding and became a full-service towing and road service company. By 2000, the fleet had grown to five trucks, and that same year, Bill’s younger son, David, started full time as the finance manager.
Over the next ten years, Pleasant Street Auto Body & Repair Inc., dba Hampshire Towing significantly expanded the towing division. The company added the towns of Ware, Belchertown, and the State Police in Belchertown to their municipal towing list. This decade also saw the fleet grow to ten trucks, including the addition of heavy duty towing. As business continued to grow, Bill made the decision to open a second towing facility in Holyoke, MA in 2003.
The year 2010 brought major changes for the Johnson family, Pleasant Street Auto, and Hampshire Towing. The corporate headquarters in Granby, MA was purchased to make way for a CVS, thus, the Johnson’s needed to find a new home for their companies. Just over the Granby line into South Hadley was a sprawling, 4-acre site with a 35,000 square foot building, which the Johnson’s knew would be the perfect location. This new site allowed further expansion for the towing division, a large impound yard, and additionally allowed Pleasant Street Auto to expand their services into truck and trailer repairs. It is home to the body shop’s 60 foot paint booth and frame straightening equipment for large commercial trucks. The mechanical department added a state-of-the-art alignment machine, as well as the capabilities for mechanical repairs for large commercial trucks. The towing division added a service truck for roadside repairs, and a trailer division to move equipment and storage containers. Soon after the relocation of their corporate headquarters, Hampshire Towing also started towing for the City of Holyoke with their fleet of over 15 trucks. The Johnson’s also founded Amber Scene Clean; a company that cleans up illicit discharges from motor vehicle accidents and other small spills that harm the environment.
The growth continued in 2015 with the purchase of the Harris Milk Transportation Co. building located at 147 Bay Road in Belchertown. This facility now houses an expanded heavy truck and trailer mechanical division, as well as an expansive vehicle impound lot. Hampshire Towing also added a crane truck for recoveries and other specialty work. Seeing opportunity, Bill opened a Westfield location that same year, further expanding the outreach and accessibility of the towing division and another impound lot.
Following their growth from the previous year, Hampshire Towing acquired Agawam’s Affordable Towing from owner Alex Bloom in 2016. This merger has brought the fleet to over 30 trucks, a fifth towing terminal, an expansive impound lot, and has added Agawam to list of communities we service.
The company that Bill started all those years ago with just a 1953 Wrecker in a two stall garage has grown into a full-service collision & mechanical repair shop with a towing and equipment transport division, with five locations throughout Western Mass. With the addition of Amber Scene Clean, the family business has become a full-service incident management company.
When Bill was asked about the growth of the company and any future expansion, he stated he never imagined the company would be the size and scope it is today. Furthermore, he does not credit himself for the growth and success. Without the hard work, support, and sacrifices of Tracey, Robert and David, the company would not have grown. He also added that the true backbone of any business is the team of employee’s, and the Johnson’s appreciate each and every dedicated person that they’ve had the pleasure to employ. As to the question about future expansion? His answer was a simple, “time will tell”!
*from 1981-1986, Bill operated under “Bill’s Auto Body”