Mike Hambley, owner of Ashton Auto Repair, knows more than just a little about repairing automobiles. It’s in his DNA.
“I was pretty much born with a wrench in my hand,” Hambley said.
Much of what he knows was learned at the knee of his father who owned a repair shop when Hambley, 49, was just a child. In many respects, he was a natural at mastering the details of being a mechanic, while taking classes over the years to keep up with the changing facets of the business.
It wasn’t until September 2017, that he decided after more than 25 years as a mechanic in Amboy to try his hand at owning his own business.
The building, at 507 Cartwright Ave., in Ashton, had set empty for several years. When it was put up for auction, he and his wife, Lana, decided to give it a try.
“We wanted to be careful,” he said. “See how the first year went and take little bitty steps.”
The results have been more than gratifying.
“The community has been fantastic,” he said. “We started the business with hopes to be in it for the long haul. The community has been awesome and the city has welcomed us with open arms.”
The business offers everything from oil changes to engine and transmission repair, as well as air conditioning work, tires and towing.
Much of his success has been based on the simple theory of providing quality work at reasonable prices, and that formula appears to be working.
And, he’s doing it locally – a real convenience in a community of around 1,000 people.
“I have many people happy they can drop their car off, walk to work and come back after work and pick up their car – done and ready to go,” he said. “I do the work right the first time and try to keep my prices reasonable.”
What’s more, he works with the village to provide maintenance for the fire trucks, ambulance, school buses and plow trucks to ensure all the vehicles are in top shape and pass all safety inspections.
“It makes me feel good that the community is safer and their vehicles are working well,” he said.
For now, it is still a family operation. Hambley does all the repair work. His daughter, April Miller, helps with the administrative side of the business as well as insurance claims as needed.
He continues to purchase new equipment as the business grows, including a tow truck.
“I bought the truck to help customers out,” he said. “Now, I have the added convenience of being able to tow vehicles in for repairs and save customers extra costs.”
He is eager to please. That includes working weekend hours if a customer has an immediate need, like the time a customer bought an RV the day before a holiday weekend and was hoping to take a trip in it, but needed new tires. Hambley was quick to help and his customer was motoring away the next day as planned.
Another time, an older lady called needing her car washed.
“We don’t wash cars,” Hambley said with a laugh.
Still, he obliged. After dropping off her car, he took her back home, washed the car inside and out, then dropped it off to her.
It’s that type of service that seems to be working well for Hambley and Ashton Auto Repair.
“I mean, if someone needs it done and I have the time, I’ll do it.”
ASHTON AUTO REPAIR
Address: 507 Cartwright Ave., Ashton
Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; Saturdays by appointment