Quality. Integrity. Community. Three words that are the foundation of Rich’s Auto Center. For the past 20 years, Rich and Cindy Elzey, with their successful family owned auto repair business, have been an integral part of the Waynedale Community.
Formerly the home of Putt Putt Miniature Golf course, Rich’s Auto Center on Sandpoint Road was built in 2002. Cindy enjoyed all the rigors of a ground up project from working with the realtor, bankers, attorneys, the city and the contractors to pull it all together, moving in over Thanksgiving weekend.
The primary focus of Rich’s Auto Center is repairing and maintaining personal vehicles. Oil changes, brakes, electrical systems, tune ups, heating and air, engines, transmissions and diagnostics, Rich’s does it all.
Rich Elzey gives kudos to his mentor Greg McConiga, a National ASE Technician of the Year in 1986 whom Rich worked with at 20th Century Automotive following school. Rich said he was fortunate, working with “top equipment, top training and that everyone there was Master Certified, including the office staff.” That is quite a formidable goal to repeat at your own business.
But Rich is up to the task. He graduated at the top of his class from ITT Automotive Division. He admits he has seen a lot of changes in the industry. Vehicles manufactured in the early 2000’s may have had three or four computers controlling the cars systems. Nowadays, vehicles can have 20+ computers keeping all systems go. That is why Rich’s Auto Center state-of-the-art diagnostics program and their Automotive Service Excellence Certified (ASE) technicians are so important. They don’t just throw parts on your car and hope it fixes the problem. Their goal is to fix it right the first time.
Rich’s Auto Center is the only Fort Wayne certified ASE Blue Seal shop. They are also a member of the Automotive Service Association, the Better Business Bureau, the Chamber of Commerce and are a NAPA Auto Care Center and AC Delco Total Service Support Shop. Additionally, they are part of the NAPA Business Development Group.
Rich and Cindy, along with their staff, believe that living the golden rule is what keeps their customers coming back. Treating others, the way you want to be treated. Cindy shares “Our customers are like an extended family. It is wonderful that many of our current customers came in as youth with their parents, and now they are adults with repair needs of their own.”
Rich graduated from Northrop, class of ’75 and Cindy from New Haven High School in 1970. Their first home was on Elzey Street, their current home is in Lake Shores. They are a blended family; Rich with one son Derek and Cindy has two children, a son Ben and a daughter Casee. They are proud grandparents of two students, Reilly at IU Bloomington and Boyce at Carroll High School.
Both enjoy nature and boating. Rich is an avid golfer, member of a summer league. When the season changes, he picks up his bowling ball and rejoins a weekly league. Cindy loves anything outdoor related including fishing and paddle boating. You will also often find her and Charlie, their seven-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback dog, socializing at Pawster Park. She laughs “That is how we have met most of our neighbors.”
The Elzey’s are truly community minded. They call Mount Calvary their church home. Both are involved with Big Brothers/ Big Sisters. Cindy is a lunch buddy at Waynedale Elementary School. The business is a member of the Waynedale Business Chamber and supports Waynedale events such as the Easter Egg Hunt, Trunk or Treat, the annual Waynedale Community Picnic and EMBARK. Rich’s Auto Center was the recent host of a first time Waynedale Business Chamber event, the 5 O’Clock Mingle.
Working with children is a passion both Rich and Cindy share. They frequently teach youth auto classes at the shop on behalf of Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the Boy Scouts. They support Pink Leaf, holding auto classes for children coming out of foster care. The classes they sponsor range from a few hours up to two days as they educate students of all ages about car ownership and routine maintenance including checking fluids and changing a flat tire.
A great example of integrity is when Rich accidentally took out a telephone pole near the shop one snowy day. He ponied up and paid the $7,000 that it cost to repair it rather than letting taxpayers cover it.
Rich and Cindy feel extremely blessed. They always have plenty of work plus technicians that are dependable and long-term employees. And a successful business. Both are firm believers of “if you are giving back, it will circle back to you.” May that circle remain unbroken.