New York mechanic opens business in old Spencer service station

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Steve Huffman
SPENCER ó Not too many years ago, Ron Mink sold his auto repair shop, Ron’s Automotive, in Bellmore, N.Y.
The town of Bellmore is on New York’s Long Island.
Mink, now 57, said it didn’t take him long to realize he’d made a mistake. He dabbled in real estate for a bit, but the downturn in the economy made selling houses tough, and Mink soon found himself wishing he had his garage back.
“I missed it,” he said. “I like that type of work.”
But real estate parcels ó garages included ó on Long Island are terribly expensive, so Mink began looking on the Internet for a garage to purchase elsewhere.
While perusing the Internet auction site eBay one day, he stumbled upon a listing for the former Agner’s Amoco in Spencer. The building is located at 1030 S. Salisbury Ave., at the intersection of 11th Street.
Mink was interested and flew down to have a look at the property, which was then owned by Duke Brown. Mink liked the shop, which features four service bays and six gas pumps.
But he thought the price was a tad high.
So he flew back to New York and continued to look elsewhere for a garage. Eventually, he got a call from Brown who told him the business was going to be sold at public auction.
Mink returned to Spencer last December for the auction and bought the property. After months of cleaning and upgrades, Ron’s Auto Service is finally up and running.
“We’re going to be full service, not self-service,” Mink said of the gas and more he’ll offer. “I think there’s still plenty of people out there who’ll like it.”
Then Mink paused momentarily before laughing and continuing.
“I like that old-fashioned stuff,” he said. “I like do-wop.”
For the time being, there’s no gas at Mink’s garage, but he plans to have some minor problems with the pumps rectified in a week or so.
His garage has been open for repairs for a couple of weeks.
Mink said he’s been working on cars since he was a teen. In addition to owning his own garage, he also worked for years for an American Motors Co. dealership.
Mink chuckled as he recalled that in 1975, he was the highest-paid mechanic in the shop, knocking back a whopping $5 an hour.
“I’m up to $6 now,” he said, laughing again.
Mink said he’ll focus on general repairs, working on almost any car there is.
“They’re all basically the same,” Mink said of the various brands of vehicles on the road. “They’ve all got a motor, a transmission and a rear end. Some are a little more complicated than others, but there’s really not a lot of difference.”
Mink said there are lots of parts swappers in the car repair business, but few true mechanics.
“I’m a mechanic,” he said, insisting he wasn’t bragging, just stating a fact.
Mink said he’ll also concentrate on service, something he said is too often missing in this day of big-market businesses and impersonal customer care.Mink employed three or four mechanics at his New York garage, and said that while he’s not past shooting for such a staff in Spencer, for the moment, his plans are less ambitious.
For the time being, at least, it’ll be just Mink and a single helper. The doors to his garage are open and he’s waiting for the customers.
“I like people,” Mink said. “I think they like me.”
Richard Smith is a long-time Rowan County tow truck driver who thinks Mink’s going to make a go of it. Smith said he stopped to talk to Mink the other week and took an immediate liking to him.
“He’s done a couple of cars, already,” Smith said of the early days of Mink’s new car repair business.
“Once he gets the gas, it’ll go.”