WATERVILLE – For $5 or $10 more than a lube shop might charge, you can have your vehicle’s oil changed while you’re at work.

Or at home. Or just about anywhere else in central Maine.

Justin Cote will be more than happy to make it happen. The Clinton resident and Iraq War veteran, laid off two weeks ago from his summer job at Sappi Fine Paper, is hitting the road with his big Cote’s “Lube on Location” trailer.

Cote will change your oil and filter, for $29.95.

“People like it because it’s convenient for them,” said Cote, 29. “They don’t have time to run around after work and if they do, there’s usually a line. And on their days off, it’s the last thing they want to do.”

It takes Cote, who served as a diesel mechanic in Iraq, about 10 or 15 minutes.

“At work, you don’t care how look it takes,” he pointed out.

Cote, with guidance from Councilors to America’s Small Businesses (SCORE), took out a $35,000 loan from Merrill Merchants Bank in February to get started. He paid $18,000 for the big while trailer, equipped with steel ramps, that he hauls behind his Ford pickup truck.

Insured for damages, Cote drives the vehicles up the ramps into the trailer, and does his thing.

He works morning, noon and night. Recently, Cote showed up at the Shawn’s frozen foods warehouse in Waterville – at 2 a.m.

“I do their trucks inside the building,” he said. “They want it done while they’re loading their trucks, so there’s no time wasted.”

Half a year into his venture now, Cote is averaging four customers per day, most of them private vehicle owners. He wants to do more businesses, and eventually get into diesels and heavy servicing.

SCORE volunteer Bill Shuman, a retired aeronautics engineer, recalled his first meeting with Cote, a year ago at Shuman’s Augusta office.

“Justin had a really good idea,” Shulman said. “But I was a little hesitant at first. I didn’t quite see the mechanics of how it would work.”

Determined, Cote showed Shulman the web site of a successful mobile lube business in Manchester, N.H.

“He wanted to build a trailer rather than a van, which they used in New Hampshire,” Shulman said. “All of a sudden, I saw the potential. I subscribed to the idea. We talked about marketing it.”

Shulman said he helped Cote assemble a business description for the bank.

“This is a great convenience for office workers who can’t do it on weekdays,” Shulman said. “He does the Rent-A-Car fleet at the Augusta Airport. He could do fleets for anybody.”

While he works to grow his business, Cote’s wife, Victoria, works as a occupational therapist.

Those interested in this new convenience can call Cote at 649-0740.


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