Most businesses will tell you that good customer service is there top priority, but at Larry’s Automotive in Newburgh, business owners Larry and Kara Rose really and truly mean it. They settled in the Evansville area about 20 years ago, and have fully connected with and given to the community. Kara Rose (wife of Larry and co-owner of Larry’s Automotive) was happy to tell us more about their business and their love of Newburgh.
How did the business get started?
"Larry always had an interest in repairs. He went to college at Lincoln Technical Institute for auto repairs. When he left college he spent about 20 years working for different dealerships. During this time, he saw a lot of customers get taken advantage of with pricing and, you know, those unethical things you see on Dateline on television. This always bothered him.
Larry was working for a dealership in 2008 when the economy took a downfall and they started cutting positions. When his dealership said they were going to let someone go, they weren’t going to let him go, but he decided to offer to go part-time. He had been working at home on the side for about three years prior to this, just for friends. He thought going part time at the dealership would allow him a chance to see if he would have enough business to be able to work from home full time.
Just as hoped, Larry eventually left the dealership and worked full time from home. He had people here and there helping him, and the business grew and grew. At first there was some difficulty with this, because we live in a residential area and he wanted to be compassionate to the neighbors. So you couldn’t bring your car until he was ready to work on it and as soon as he was done you needed to pick it up right away. At that point he decided to open the shop that today is Larry’s Automotive.
Larry designed the shop himself. He had a drawing that I kept for many years, so we had the shop designed exactly as he envisioned it. He took all he learned from past jobs and was able to make it his own. When we opened the shop we had two full time mechanics, and now we have seven full-time people. This summer will be our fourth year of being open. We’ve expanded so much and we’re very grateful."
What is it like working as a family?
"Each of us puts in a lot of extra time. Our son is a college student so he works full time at Christmas and during the summer, but the rest of the year he’s off at school. I have a full time job as well, and I travel during the week normally. When I’m home on the weekends I do the accounts payable, and all the HR and marketing for the shop. Our daughter works over here too. She just turned 16, so she wants to make a little extra money. She cleans the lobby and one afternoon I even had her help paint the lobby. When something needs to be done you just jump up and do it.
This is also a learning experience for our kids. They see different things that go on and how we handle issues that come up on the job. It’s a good life lesson for them."
How has being connecting to the local community helped you as a local business?
"We’ve been here 21 years this summer. We didn’t grow up here, but we moved here because of my job. Once we had our kids we realized Newburg was such a nice place, and we wanted to stay. Having our kids grow up in the school system meant we had a good network. But for us, the most important thing about being in the community is giving back– especially to the schools since they have such a tight budget. Anything going on at the schools we try to do what we can to help out.
For example, the high school gives out hundreds of scholarships to seniors and they’re all by donation. Larry wanted to give to this scholarship fund because he had to put himself through school. He had to pay for everything, and so he wanted to help somebody else because now he can. So we give out a $1000 scholarship to a graduating senior who is going into the automotive industry. It’s just one way that he can give back to the community.
Also, we have an annual block party with all the small businesses in our area. It’s usually in the fall. We like to do this as a yearly, family event to give back to our customers. We serve food and have tons of giveaways, a bouncy house, and petting zoo. We get all the different businesses together and block the road off. It’s something we do to get the community together, and it’s been a lot of fun."
What is the best part of running Larry’s Automotive?
"We’re always getting communication back from our customers saying they’re pleased, but the best thing is when they are grateful and say they're going to refer friends and family to us. People have so many choices of repair places, so having customers who continually come back is pretty special."
Businesses like Larry’s Automotive are part of what makes the Evansville area so special. When you buy from local businesses like Larry’s, you know you are contributing to a service that is giving back to the community. That’s what Towny is all about. Want to support other local businesses in your community? Download Towny, it’s completely free, and keeps you in touch with local.