In the beginning, Cal Karam was a bit worried about taking ownership of Hopkinton Shell. It was located in an area he wasn’t familiar with and had been run by the same person for 38 years. “But, honestly, from the first week, I felt welcome,” Karam says. “There are beautiful, nice people around here. So, that gave me the strength to stick with it.”
Originally from Lebanon, Karam has lived in the United States for 23 years and now calls South Weymouth home. He has been working in the gas station business for 19 years, largely alongside his uncle, who owns 12 stations. When the opportunity arose for Karam to own his own location at Hopkinton Shell, he saw it as a challenge he was ready to accept.
Remarking on former owner Jerry Lazzaro’s longtime and respected tenure, Karam says that he has been working hard to prove himself and be a suitable replacement. “So far, so good,” he says. “Now, after almost six months, I feel so great about it. I have to drive an hour every day, but at the same time I feel like I’m becoming part of the community.”
Karam and his wife are even considering moving to Hopkinton in the coming years with their three young boys. “The more I’m learning about Hopkinton the more I’m feeling comfortable,” Karam says. “For me, education is the number one priority. And that’s why I also would love to support the local schools and sports teams.”
In addition to being a gas station, Hopkinton Shell is a complete car care station with certified mechanics. The station offers a variety of services, including engine tune-ups, wheel alignment and balancing, brake jobs, propane tank filling, cooling and exhaust work, professional repairs and more. It also offers pick-up and drop-off services, which Karam notes is particularly helpful for older adult clients, especially during the winter.
Like many businesses, Karam says that Hopkinton Shell is short-staffed, and it has been a challenge to find employees. Nevertheless, he has not changed his operating hours. “I’m covering hours to make it convenient for the community,” he says. “We close at 10, and then I get home at 11, 11:30. My kids aren’t happy about it. They’re like, ‘Daddy, Daddy, we don’t see you anymore!’ But that’s the business, and it’s not fair for the community if we close early. So I’m putting in the hours until I can find somebody.”
As snow and freezing temperatures arrive, Karam encourages residents to winterize their vehicles, get their wheels and brakes checked, and, most importantly, drive safely. He says he appreciates the trust that customers have shown Hopkinton Shell so far, and he wants to reciprocate by making sure everyone who comes into the station “feels like they are welcome, like they are home, like I am one of them.” Karam’s ultimate mission, he says, is “to keep everybody happy.”
Hopkinton Shell is located at 60 Main Street and can be reached by phone at 508-435-6738.
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