Griggs Automotive's employees are highly-trained, experienced and dedicated to the success of our business.
Steve Simons has been a problem-solver in Huntsville for about 40 years. Fortunately, Simons has a couple of friends who help him. Together, they diagnose problems, give their customers options, then go to work and fix whatever’s broken.
Simons and his buddies, Rob Knapp and Rick Richardson, love what they do. This bunch has been working together at Griggs Automotive for the past 16 years.
“We fix cars,” said Knapp, who bought the “family business” from Simons back in March. “... The car comes in broken and we fix it. Not only do we make the cars go again, but we help people out. That makes their lives a little easier.”
Simons started working for the shop’s original owner, Martin Griggs, back in the mid-1970s. Knapp, the master mechanic and computer guru, came on board in 1991. Richardson, a former salesman at a local auto parts store, started writing service reports, while working phones and the front counter at Griggs in 2000.
The family business began when Griggs, a former test pilot in the Air Force, opened Griggs Fleet Service in Huntsville back in 1975. Simons joined Griggs’ team soon after the shop opened.
“I graduated from Waltrip High School in Houston and came up here to Huntsville,” Simons recalls. “I was a long-haired hippie back then. I started working at Griggs. We worked during the day and fished late in the afternoon.”
Simons fell in love with the work soon after he started at Griggs. He also fell in love with Huntsville, the homey small-town atmosphere and the interesting people here.
“When I got here, I said I’ll never go back to Houston and I never did,” Simons said with a smile.
Simons bought the business from his old boss in 2002, then Mr. Griggs died in 2005.
Knapp started working at Griggs after he moved from Oklahoma to Huntsville to go to school at Sam Houston State University.
“He’s our backbone as far as fixing cars goes,” Simons says of his buddy Knapp. “And he started at the very bottom, working cleanup in the shop.”
Unlike some in the automotive repair business, the friendly folks at Griggs always have their customers’ best interest in mind. They want to fix cars and get them safely back on the road and they aren’t looking to fatten their wallets while doing that.
We don’t do any upselling unless you need it,” Knapp said. “When someone brings in their car and their brakes are bad, we’re not going to try and sell you all kinds of other stuff.” Simons adds, “Trust is easy to get, but it’s hard to keep.”
That’s why customers keep coming back to Griggs. They trust the trio of Simons, Knapp and Richardson to do a solid job and do it at for a reasonable price.
“I trust Griggs Automotive with my vehicles. They have always done an outstanding job, (they) provide excellent communication and customer service and they are HONEST!” Pam Smith Laughlin wrote on Griggs’ Facebook page.
Harvey Vanecek, another longtime customer, says he always takes his cars to Griggs when they need some professional help.
“I have been a customer for at least 15 years. They have treated me great!” Vanecek said. “They don’t try to stick me with an unnecessary repair. I started with them when they were in the building next to ACE Hardware, back when Mr. Griggs was alive. I’ve had every kind of repair done here, from adding some fluid for no charge to replacing an engine in one my vehicles.
“I recommend them to everyone needing a repair,” he added. “The only problem is that a lot of people are finding out about their great service, so if you need a repair, it may be a few days before they can get to you.”
When he sold ownership of the business earlier this year, Simons could have ridden off into retirement and taken life easy. Instead, he shows up at Griggs every weekday and helps keep the family business going.
“Sitting at home is not an option for any of us. I don’t want to waste 35 years of knowledge,” Simons said.
“I also like to hang around this place. It’s a real pleasure to do what you like to do. A lot of people work to work, but we work because we enjoy it.”
Written by Tom Waddill for the Huntsville Item. Published July 24, 2016.