Fourth Generation Family Dealership

Jaffarian Service was started in 1938 by Fred Jaffarian, the first Armenian-American born in Haverhill when he leased a gas station on Haverhill's River Street. Fred and his wife, Alice, worked at a nearby shoe factory, leaving the gas station's management to cousin Charlie. Every day, Fred and Alice went straight from the shoe factory to work the gas station, eventually phasing out that grueling schedule when the station became successful. Their son, Richard (second generation), worked there after school, learning to fix cars.


The couple had the perfect formula for the American dream. His gregarious personality kept customers coming back, and her frugality maximized profits. Jaffarian Service expanded to sell tires, lawnmowers, and Hudson automobiles. In the early '50s, they switched from Hudson's to Rambler's and added more service bays.


Richard, unsatisfied with Rambler's quality, wanted something better. Haverhill at that time (1958) had enough domestic-auto showrooms, so he looked further. Hours of library research led him to a solution: Volvo of Sweden. Richard's ability to handle everything gave Fred time to help the community that had carried his family business to success. He sponsored sports and other youth activities in Haverhill and volunteered often.


 In 1962, an unusual, tank-like vehicle rolled into the station. It was a Toyota Land Cruiser, driven by a sales representative looking to sign on new dealers. The truck's quality impressed Richard, and Jaffarian Service became one of New England's original Toyota dealerships. Richard's son Gary (third-generation) dreamed of someday running the station. As he and his younger brothers Paul and Mark grew, they took on tasks to thoroughly learn the business, sweeping floors and cleaning bathrooms. Gary so relished this work that he'd hitchhike there after school.


The gas islands gave way to a state-of-the-art showroom in 1967. When Toyota's quality faltered, Richard knew it was just a glitch. He stuck with the Japanese manufacturer and encouraged other dealers to follow suit. His firstborn son knew and loved the vehicles, too. Gary shared his knowledge with customers, accompanying them on test drives before he even had a license. He studied at Northern Essex Community College and Merrimack College to work at Jaffarian Service after classes. Gary had inherited the Jaffarian work ethic (in the business history, Richard took just one week of vacation a year). After Fred passed away in 1976, the business continued to thrive under Richard's guidance. They remained successful through tough times through intelligent decisions and diehard determination: the 1970s gas crisis, sky-high interest rates, and recessions.


The Jaffarian family gradually acquired adjacent properties to expand, for example, the 6,000-square-foot Collision Center. Mark found his niche in the body shop, while Paul built a far-reaching reputation as the go-to guy for auto parts. The current showroom opened in 2003. Richard and Paul have since passed away, but Jaffarian Service's dedication to its customers is as vital as ever. Today, Mark continues to run the Collision Center, Gary is President and CEO, and his son, Gavin (fourth generation), runs Volvo Sales and Service.