It might look like just a retro gas station and service shop on the outside, but Central Auto Sales and Service in Clay, Ky., is a place where the community comes together, and young employees get a jump start on workplace skills.
Jeff Cherry is the current owner of Central Auto. He got his start at the shop when he was a young teenager in the 1970s. He believes the helpful, in-person service the shop offers keeps it going even as online services encroach on nearly every business sector.
“Us old-school people, we still like to be face-to-face and I think that’s a lot of the reason why we’ve still got our doors open,” says Cherry. “People still trust us. We just try to be fair to everybody and that’s really all you can do. The town means a lot to us and we mean a lot to the town and if we weren’t here it would definitely impact our little community a lot. There’s a lot of hands-on stuff that people need that you just can’t get on your computer and get right now. There’s still a need for places like what we have for Central Auto.”
Scott Clark was an employee at the store for four years, beginning when he was still in high school. “I do electrical work now and I’ve got a small business here in Clay,” says Clark. “Back when I worked here years ago, working behind the counter selling auto parts, one of the main things I learned was how to treat people. Just be nice to folks. It was a great place to start.”
Cherry agrees that the shop is a great training ground for any future career path. “I think everybody needs to work for the public a little bit,” he says. “Working behind the counter is kind of like being a bartender without the alcohol…because sometimes you ask somebody how they’re doing, and you get the whole story whether you want it or not!
“Younger people need to learn to interact,” Cherry continues. “Especially in this day and time when everything is on social media. Probably one of the biggest lessons is just, show up at work. Work ethic. Learn how to get along with your coworkers and the customers. It helps you later in life because you can be really good at something, but if you can’t get along with people then you’re not going to achieve maybe what you could.”
This segment originally appeared as part of Kentucky Life episode #2405 which originally aired on November 3, 2018. Watch the full episode.