mechanic from Grantsville retires after nearly 40 years | New
GRANTSVILLE – When it comes to auto mechanics, a lot has changed over the past 40 years.
Herman Yoder resisted these changes during his tenure at Hilltop Auto Center in Grantsville. At the age of 77, he retired last month after nearly four decades of mechanical work.
Yoder’s first cousin, Raymond Yoder, bought the garage in 1978. A few years later, Yoder needed a job and he went to work at Hilltop Auto.
At the time, Yoder had some experience doing some of his own mechanical work. He had a farm and raised chickens and also sprayed crops for two months of the year, which he continued for a while. Other than that, he worked full time in the garage.
Yoder had received training from another mechanic in the shop, but most of the time he was learning as he went, finding out how it all came together.
“We worked on different vehicles, and each make of vehicle seemed to have a different way of doing things,” he said. “The basics were the same, but then there were a lot of things that each different manufacturer had a different way of doing. It was one of the hardest things (to learn).
Yoder spoke about some of the changes in the industry.
“One thing would be the fuel system,” he said. “When I started it was mostly carburetors, then they moved to throttle body fuel injection, then after that they moved to multi-point fuel injection, where each cylinder had an injector. . So that has changed a lot over the years.
Another change has been with distributors. Previously, a distributor supplied the bottles. Yoder explained that today many vehicles have their own coil on each cylinder.
Braking systems have also changed from fully manual emergency brakes to electric emergency brakes.
Yoder also noted that vehicles are much more computerized these days.
“For a lot of things now, you almost wouldn’t know where to go if you didn’t have a scanner to go into the system to figure out what’s going on,” he said.
He noted that he had always enjoyed working on engines and doing that sort of thing, which he found rewarding.
“There are a lot of things you need to know about disassembling and reassembling an engine,” Yoder said. “I guess one of the most satisfying things is when you have a client come in and they leave very happy with the job you’ve done.”
In 2016, there was a change in ownership when Hilltop Auto Center was purchased by Derek Brown.
“It went really well,” Yoder said. “They were both working to make the transition go smoothly, and I thought it went really well. Raymond helped out there and did some inspections for a little while.
Since the purchase, the workshop has grown from three to 10 employees. Brown also made a few upgrades, including adding a body shop, completely renovating the machine shop, updating almost all of the shop’s equipment, and coating the parking lot.
“It has been good to work for,” Yoder said. “He tries to keep customers happy and does a great job.”
Brown said he enjoys providing good service to the local community and plans to expand both stores in the spring.
“When I bought Hilltop Auto, Herman was 72 and I remember wondering how much he really had left,” Brown said. “After about the second day, I quickly realized how wrong I had been. Herman worked like he was a man half his age.
In recent months, Yoder has started to think maybe it is time to move away, in part because of his age. And with a grandson who married in Montana in September, the time was right.
“I thought it would be a good time to stop my job and we could go over there and spend a little more time and maybe travel a little more,” Yoder said.
He gave a lot of notice and Brown was able to hire Randy Skidmore to take over, bringing 20 years of automotive experience.
“Herman has been a terrific mechanic for almost 40 years,” said Brown. “He’s probably one of the best mechanics I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. I learned a lot from him. He always brought a smile to work and worked hard. He is a dedicated firefighter, father, husband and employee. “
Yoder remained active with the Grantsville Volunteer Department while he worked at the store.
“Raymond and Derek both gave me the privilege of leaving when we had a fire call during the day,” Yoder said. “They’ve both been really good that way. I was in the middle of a job and was leaving often, so they also made a contribution to the community that way. “
Yoder and his wife Thelma will be married at 58 in October. They have eight children and 25 grandchildren, one of whom no longer lives.
Although his wife noted that she was happy he was retiring, she knows he still has mixed feelings about it.
“It’s going to be different,” she said. “He’s not the type to sit still. He’s still a firefighter, and you won’t see him quit until he has to.