By Meg Olson
As the new owner of Dennis Auto on Gulf Road, Travis Austin is bringing decades of experience and thousands of dollars in special equipment to provide a service standard that he says can equal or exceed the dealership.
“I was working on dirt bikes and four-wheelers when I was a pup,” said Austin, who took over the local automotive service business April 1. By 10 years old he had graduated to racing snowmobiles, and as crew chief for Polaris Racing he took them to three consecutive X Games championships.
After four years in the United States Marine Corps, Austin, originally from Seattle, began working for a chain of automobile dealerships in Minnesota. “Given I’d been tinkering around with engines for a long time it made sense,” he said. Training in Germany, he was master certified to work on Mercedes, BMW, Porsche and Audi/Volkswagen vehicles.
“As soon as I figured out one car line I moved on to the next,” he said. He is also a master certified Ford mechanic.
After starting his own business in Seattle seven years ago, Austin became certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of vehicle repair through professional certification.
Austin, now 37, said the move to Point Roberts was to escape the hectic pace of his Seattle business. “It’s just mind numbing how much easier it is up here,” he said, despite the border.
The name on the business will remain the same, Austin said, both for convenience and as a nod to the previous owner and founder. “Dennis had a long history here,” he said.
The building already has a new coat of paint, selected to comply with the colors specified in the current Point Roberts Character Plan. Austin has also added over $100,000 worth of scanning tools and diagnostic equipment, and established connections with the brands he holds certifications for.
“It allows me to access all the information a dealership can,” he said.
Dennis Auto will be open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., closed from 1 to 2 p.m. for lunch and parts runs. The business can be reached at