Behind the Wheel
Skiles Automotive Service 20-Year-Old Owner Is Driven to Serve the Community
Writer / Mary Lowry
At only 20 years old, Gavin Skiles already has plenty of experience running his own business. Since opening Skiles Automotive Service at 915 W. Plymouth St. in Bremen in February, he’s been able to accomplish lifelong goals.
Enterprising and innovative, Skiles started his interest in vehicles and business at a young age. Holding various side jobs throughout the years taught him quite a bit about the machines he was working with. They also showed him the ins and outs of running your own company.
“When I was about 10, I would go around to garage sales and buy small motors and started repairing them,” he says. “I taught myself how to get started on those, and then I would resell them. Before that, I had a small business where I would build birdhouses and sell them. Later on, I bought a car and started tinkering around with it and learned that way.”
Skiles later would sell the cars he fixed up to other people.
What started out as just “tinkering around” with machines quickly became something he loved. Soon after, he began working at the Ford Auto Salvage Yard, where he learned even more. The job there proved to be valuable as it set a clear path to his success in running his own business.
“I worked at Ford’s Auto Salvage Yard when I was 16, and I worked there full-time for about a year,” Skiles says. “Then I opened my own business, just in my parents’ barn. I went from there and ended up renting a small shop, and then I got a little bit bigger. We were there for about six months, and I slowly was accumulating a lot of what I needed, like tools and things, and then the shop where we are now opened up, and so we moved over here.”
Despite having successful experiences in smaller business where it was just Skiles, gaining more traction and having a bigger shop proved to be challenging.
“The biggest challenge was being on a small country road to being on a main street,” he says. “The business that was here before us had a good reputation, and so we had a lot of people already willing to come to us. I had to start hiring employees right away, and I wasn’t used to that.”
Having plenty of friends in the automotive business, though, proved to be impactful, as getting their input and advice helped tremendously. Skiles cites these influences as being important in his ability to overcome the challenges set forward when starting the business.
He’s not just thankful for the help of his friends, though. Skiles recognizes how important the community has been in the success of his company. From those who came ready to support him from day one to other customers that have come in since their opening, he says that they are grateful for all the business the community has given them.
“We are very thankful for all of the customers we’ve had so far,” Skiles says. “We look forward to serving the rest of the community.”
Skiles hopes to encourage other young people trying to start their own business. He knows about the challenges and victories that they will face in the process, and he is open to giving advice to those who look for it.
“I would definitely say that you’re going to have points where you face challenges,” he says. “Don’t give up and keep pushing. If you have the drive, you can overcome any of the obstacles. There are definitely lots of ups and downs, but if you’re able to ride those out, keep pushing forward.”
When asked about what makes their business successful, Skiles capitalizes on the employees that he works with.
“We really advertise the fact that we’re honest,” he adds. “We don’t take advantage of people. We’re going to do everything in our power to keep our customers happy.”
Skiles Automotive Service is located at 915 W. Plymouth St. in Bremen. You can visit them online at skiles-automotive-service.business.site or give them a call at 574-546-5005 for more information.