Despite massive growth in the area and the arrival of big name stores, Al’s General Auto Repair has handled that and weathered various storms and will be celebrating a milestone anniversary next week.
Al’s, a full-service automotive repair shop, will usher in the company’s 20th year in business next week with a get-together at the popular local auto shop.
“It’s a major accomplishment,” Sheryl Huffman, daughter of Keen. “We’re a small business; my mom and dad opened it Dec.1,1995, and there was hardly any people living in Pahrump then.”
Huffman, who’s been involved with the family business for the past 15 years, said staying in business through that two-decade stretch has been a struggle at times, having to deal with the ups and downs of a growing town.
The biggest obstacle of all that the shop had to overcome took place a year-and-a-half ago when Al Keen passed away.
“Ever since my dad passed away my mom has been running the shop,” Huffman said. “He bid the jobs, did a lot of work, he was a real key player for us.”
The death of Al Keen took its toll on everyone at the shop, so to aid the grieving process, the team got together and touched up the shop.
“We remodeled the front lobby as a dedication wall to him,” Huffman said. “So we just did the tribute wall and that kind of helped us all to cope with it.”
Huffman recalled her dad’s love for drag racing and mentioned the success he enjoyed with her brother Don Keen.
“Dad loved drag racing with my brother, Don, and my son, Jeff,” she said. “Together they were able to run in the NHRA Stock and Super Stock classes with a tremendous amount of success. In 1990 Al and Don Keen won the World Championship in the Stock Class and Al won “Wrench of the Year.”
In addition to the untimely passing of her father, Huffman explained that the arrival of big name stores like Walmart also put a damper on business.
“That hurt us as far as oil changes and tires,” she said. “They can carry a lot more tires than we could and they have a variety of oil changes. People could go shopping and they could get their oil changes and go shopping so they wouldn’t have to go anywhere else.”
Huffman said that the business plans to expand their tire inventory and add exterior lighting so their building is well lit to help draw customers who might be passing by and not know they are there.
“Because we’re on the outskirts of town, a lot of people don’t even know we’re here amazingly,” Huffman said. “We’ve talked to several people who’ve never even heard of us. So that kind makes me alarmed. So I’d like to get the word out that we’re here.”
Despite that, Huffman said having a core group of customers that trust their work and keep coming back for their automotive needs helped them survive the last 20 years.
“We want to say a big thank you to our loyal customers,” she said. “We have a lot of repeat customers that don’t go to the other places and without them we wouldn’t have made it.”
To thank those customers, Al’s General Auto Repair, located at 867 S. Linda Street will offer a full-service oil change for $16.95 on Dec.1, which she said is cheaper than they charged 20 years ago. In addition, there will be cake and coffee served in the shop’s lobby for all to enjoy, prize giveaways and other special labor rates all day long.
Contact reporter Mick Akers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.