In his bay at R & D Automotive, Rudy Jenkins, complete with headlamp and socket wrench, tightens the bolts on a new set of tires he’s just installed on a long-time customer’s car. The sight of Jenkins is not unfamiliar – he has now been serving Asheboro and the Piedmont for over 35 years with the same friendly smile and hearty laugh that has charmed and comforted his customers since day one.
Jenkins worked for Klopman Mills until the late 1960s. In 1969, Ernest Singleton hired him to work in the service department of a local car dealership. He worked there for 10 years, before leaving to start R & D Automotive in November 1980 because he felt there was a better way to treat customers, and do a good job at the same time. Located on Coleridge Road in a two bay garage with no employees, he worked hard to build a solid reputation as an honest, fair mechanic.
A few weeks after he opened, Ernest Singleton drove up with his toolbox on the back of his pickup. Rudy asked him what he was doing, and Ernest replied, “I’m coming to work for you.” He worked with Rudy for 20 years before leaving to become a Service Manager at a local dealership.
A few years later in 1974, mechanics were able to become ASE Certified via a series of tests. There were eight tests in all and most mechanics took one or two of them to get certification specific to their specialty. Over the course of two evenings, Rudy sat for all eight tests and passed every one of them, making him the only mechanic in Randolph County to pass the certification that year.
Rudy built up a solid reputation in the area for being an honest, caring mechanic; many locals have been bringing their cars to him for multiple generations. He has worked with many mechanics over the years, some stayed and are still with him, and some have gone on to start their own businesses.
His daughter Angie grew up around cars and the garage, and has been working at R&D throughout her lifetime.
Angie recalls a day back in high school when she was driving the shop truck to Troy to pick up an engine. She saw a car pulled over off the road with a man dressed in plaid knickers, a golf shirt and a hat with a little pompom on top standing by the car, and she pulled over to see if he needed help. Turns out it was Tom McIntosh, the City Manager for Asheboro, returning from a round of golf. She brought him back to the shop to get his car towed and repaired. When he asked Angie why she stopped, she told him it was because he looked so cute in his golfing outfit. After his experience with R&D, he brought all his vehicles to the shop for maintenance.
The Great Recession of 2008 took its toll on R&D, but work has gradually picked up since then. Even at age 71, Rudy still comes to the shop every day with the same energy and care he has had since 1980. In 2010 Rudy asked Angie and her husband, Shane Garner, a Nissan & ASE Master Tech, to come into the business full-time with him. He wants to have succession in place so the business that he has poured his heart and soul in for the past 37 years will continue into the next generation.
“This is what my Dad has worked for his whole life, and Shane and I are proud to be able to carry on the business,” Angie said.
Angie has been back at R&D Automotive for over seven years, managing front office handling paperwork, bookkeeping, accounting, marketing, and occasionally stepping into the shop to scan cars. Angie runs a tight ship at R&D Automotive, holding her own with the mechanics and greeting customers with the knowledge, expertise, and compassion that can only be gathered over many years of service in the auto industry.
Shane is the Service Manager and go to mechanic in the shop. He is the ASE-Certified Master Mechanic at R&D, whose training has taken him to workshops and classes in Washington D. C., Fort Lauderdale, FL, Atlanta, GA, Manassas and Centreville, VA, Salisbury, NC, and Las Vegas, NV, in addition to countless hours of online training. He assigns the various jobs to each mechanic based on skill and knowledge. If there are any electrical issues with a vehicle that no one else can figure out, the piedmont community knows to bring it to Shane. While Shane has extensive experience with all things automotive, troubleshooting electrical issues is his favorite. He loves puzzles, and is a master at following a problem to its source to fix it.
Harvey Miller came to work at R&D Automotive from a local tire company in 2004. He’s a great mechanic who is known throughout the community for his work on front-ends. His training has taken him to study in St. Louis, MO, Orlando, FL, and Norfolk, VA. Angie calls him, “the best front-end man in the area.” His reputation as a front-end specialist is so great that other shops and dealerships in the area send their alignment jobs to Harvey.
Justin Santiago started with the shop two years ago. He is great at anything that Shane tasks him to do. He is also the shop comedian, keeping things interesting and fun while they work on the cars that come into the shop.
“The employees that work at R&D Automotive are like family, and we like to take care of them,” Rudy says. “If you treat people like you want to be treated, they will come. We feel that way about our customers, as well as our employees.”
R&D Automotive celebrates their 37th anniversary in November, and they just celebrated 32 years at the same location at 114 Plummer Street in Asheboro this May. Each of those 37 years has been filled with the same care, respect, and knowledge that has given R&D Automotive the consistent reputation of excellence since the doors were first opened.
R & D Automotive is equipped to handle any issue on your vehicle from major repairs and replacements, to alignments, to tires, to general maintenance and oil changes. Give R&D a call at (336) 625-5610 to get the same quality service from friendly people that has kept the Piedmont driving safely for 37 years.