IRON RIVER—For Wyatt Hill, the risk has already been taken. Now, he’s hoping and working for the reward.
Last October, Hill purchased the former Anderson Service automotive shop after owner-operator Steve Zorzin died in September. Five months later, Hill has reopened the shop, named it Wyatt’s Automotive and fired up the engine on his dream.
“When I first started the mechanic stuff and decided to go to school to learn more about it, my whole plan was to have a place of my own,” said the 28-year old Hill, who opened his full-service auto repair center during the first week of March.
Hill worked out a deal with Zorzin’s sister, Kathy Thunander, to purchase the station at 431 W. Adams St. Afterward, he set about making the place his own. He cleaned out the shop, organized the equipment and the office and had the ground tested for contamination, among other tasks.
Still, this is not monopoly money that Hill is staking on this gamble. The costs involved are exorbitant.
“I would say at least $50,000,” said Hill, who began his mechanic career during high school when he performed work-study for Dave’s Radiator. “I have a $10,000 tool box, and that’s not including the tools that are inside.
“I probably have $20,000 just in hand tools. I mean, my scanner to scan the cars is $9,000. Today’s cars are so complex and need so many specialty tools and special equipment or you can’t work on them.”
Shortly after graduating from West Iron County High School in 2005, Hill enrolled at the highly regarded Universal Technical Institute in suburban Chicago. He graduated in March 2008 and came back home to work for Dave Cimarelli again.
But the idea of running his own place beckoned, and he took the plunge late last year.
“I’ve been slowly buying tools and equipment for the last seven or eight years,” Hill said. “I decided if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this now.”
The results have been good so far at Wyatt’s Automotive. Hill’s docket was nearly full as he spoke late last week, and on April 21 he began offering full-service gas, a popular service that has all but disappeared in most places.
Hill said he initially didn’t intend to sell gas but has quickly realized that full-service gas fill-ups can bring in customers.
“A lot of people like it. Every day now, it’s picking up more and more. It’s not just the elderly. I get a lot of women with kids that don’t want to leave them in the car by themselves.”
And that doesn’t count the people who just don’t want to get out on the cold, windy days that have been frequent this spring.
Wyatt’s Automotive offers services for all auto repairs except alignments and works on some foreign cars that require specialty equipment and are not driven much in the area.
The shop also sells tires.
Early returns have been impressive for Hill’s new enterprise. As an outdoorsman, he’s happy to be back in a rural area after seeing a lot of concrete and few hunting and fishing opportunities living in the big city.
Still, the Iron County native knows he’s stepped into the deep end with his decision to go it alone.
“It’s a huge risk, I have everything on the line here.”