Business Spotlight: Transition at Steve’s Auto

Published Friday, January 31, 2014 at 12:16 pm
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Reece and his former boss Byerly stand inside the auto shop off of U.S. 421. Formerly known as Steve’s Auto Service, Reece is now the owner of Brushy Fork Auto Service. Photo by Ken Ketchie

By Jesse Wood

Jan. 24, 2014. Steve Byerly, 64, of Steve’s Auto Service fame recently retired, handing over the shop keys to Brad Reece on Jan. 2.

But Subaru owners and other loyal customers need not worry because Reece, 34, a former employee of Steve’s Auto for seven years, is a veteran mechanic with 17 years experience and the certifications of a master technician.

Speaking from the nearly hidden hilltop shop above U.S. 421 on the outskirts of downtown Boone, Byerly and Reece emphasized that the prior level of high-quality service synonymous Steve’s Auto wasn’t changing with this personnel move.

“He’s going to carry on the way it’s been for the past 31 years that I’ve been doing this [under the name Steve’s Auto],” Byerly said on Thursday afternoon. “The transition will be unnoticed with the continuation of good, reliable service.”

And Reece agreed.

“I want to keep it pretty much like it’s been and why people have been so happy coming here. Really nothing needs changing is the way I look at it,” Reece said. “I don’t intend any major changes. The biggest change will be the name on the sign – Brushy Fork Auto Service.”

Historical Focus on Subaru Continues

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Inside Brushy Fork Auto Service. Photo by Ken Ketchie

Byerly has been working in the auto-service industry for nearly 45 years. With a brother residing atop Sugar Mountain many years ago, Byerly and his wife fell in love with the High Country upon visiting and eventually settled down in Boone in the mid-‘70s to raise a family.

When Larry Cone bought a Subaru dealership, Byerly was working at another garage in town. Cone hired a service manager, but that fellow almost died in a horrendous motorcycle accident about one week later. Combs then called Byerly, and he accepted the job.  

“At the time, there weren’t really any four-wheel drive passenger cars that were really adept for snow travel,” Byerly said. “It didn’t take long. They really started to multiply when people started riding those things in town. The four-wheel drive, the way they handle in the snow. They just took off. They sold themselves. Larry would get a shipment of cars and couldn’t keep them on the lot, but for just a few days and they were gone.”

When Byerly opened his own shop across town, he continued to focus on ever-popular Subaru vehicles.  

And that’s a tradition that Reece, who resides in Trade, Tenn., and is a native of the High Country, has pledged to continue. 

Reece mentioned that Subaru, along with other Japanese and Korean cars such as Toyota, Honda, Hyundai and Kia are among his favorite cars to repair. Domestic brands such as Ford, Chevy and Dodge are definitely welcome, too.

“I love Subaru, but I still want to make the other [brands] welcome,” Reece said.

A Mechanic in the 21st Century

Byerly took over at the beginning of the 2014. Photo by Steve Byerly

Byerly took over at the beginning of the 2014. Photo by Steve Byerly

Just as with everything else in life, computers have changed the way mechanics work on cars. This is something that Byerly has witnessed first hand, while Reece has sort of eased into the transition naturally because of his younger age.

While touting that Reece knows the product and the customer base of Steve’s Auto, he mentioned, in particular, Reece’s adeptness with the application of new technologies.

“He brings to the table an understanding of technology and its use and application,” Byerly said. “Where I personally have been struggling the last few years as things really have advanced technically, for Brad it’s like rolling off a log.”

Swamped in praise, Reece replied – before both men broke out into a smile – “Man. I’d have it made if I knew what you know.”

Continuing the Tradition

With his children not interested in repairing vehicles, Byerly didn’t have anyone to pass on the business to and continue Steve’s Auto. 

“As I’ve been getting older, I’ve been thinking about retiring and wanted to slow down,” Byerly said. “I am really tickled that Brad’s done this and will keep it going … I am excited about that personally. Not only will he continue the tradition of friendly service, but he’ll bring a level of competence to the table that will be needed in the future, so I am excited.”

Reece concluded that Byerly has left a solid reputation in his hands and is grateful for this new beginning that already feels natural because he’s been working out of Steve’s shop for nearly a decade. 

“I am glad to just have the opportunity,” Reece said, “to step in here and keep it rolling.”

Brushy Fork Auto Service is located at 1669 U.S. 421 in the same location as Steve’s Auto Service. To reach Reece, call 828-264-4369. 

Byerly stands in the parking lot of the former Steve's Auto Service off of U.S. 421 on Thursday. Photo by Ken Ketchie

Byerly stands in the parking lot of the former Steve’s Auto Service off of U.S. 421 on Thursday. Photo by Ken Ketchie

 

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Soon, a Brushy Fork Auto Service sign will adorn the shop. Photo by Ken Ketchie

 

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Reece and his former boss Byerly stand inside the shop off of U.S. 421. Photo by Ken Ketchie

 

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Reece stands outside the shop. Photo by Ken Ketchie

 

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The inside of the shop, now known as Brushy Fork Auto Service. Photo by Ken Ketchie

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