James Lawson and Pete Dolan are outside-the-box thinkers – and tinkerers with cars and trucks.
They turned their passion into a business in May when they opened All In Garage in Hardeeville. Their business model, just a nudge away from being original (because there are a small handful of similar independent businesses in Texas and California), puts auto repair and maintenance into the hands of their customers in its 4,500-square-foot facility.
“Our main focus is do-it-yourself auto repair,” said Dolan, a native New Yorker, longtime Bluffton resident and lifelong lover of cars. “We’re reaching out to people like ourselves who have a certain skill set and like to work on their own cars and know how to do most of their own repairs, especially if they have older cars,” he said. “They don’t want to crawl around on their backs in their driveways.”
What All In Garage provides for the do-it-yourself customer is one of four bays and three lifts from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays and 6 to 9 p.m. by special appointment.
The company also provides a complete set of tools free and specialty tools for a nominal fee. At each station is a laptop computer where customers can link online to the same program that dealerships use for specific auto information and troubleshooting.
The hourly rate to rent space and equipment is $29.95. Most customers spend about three hours per visit, Dolan said.
All In Garage also has a full-time certified mechanic on staff to assist customers who need a little help. For an additional $45 per hour, the mechanic will provide instruction on the repairs a customer wants to do, but he doesn’t do the work himself.
All In Garage is also a full-service repair shop. It can handle any task from routine maintenance to repairs for $89.95 per hour.
The business partners and co-owners first met a few years ago when discussing a truck that was for sale. They bought it together and have remained close friends since then.
Lawson had been thinking about a do-it-yourself auto shop for years and mentioned his idea to Dolan. Dolan’s response was “Hey, I like your idea, let’s do it.”
“We’re both very similar people, both just really honest and really friendly and really into cars,” said Dolan, whose resume also lists fireman and plumbing company owner.
Down the road, the duo would like to expand their operation to other locations.
All In Garage is located at 200 Mead Rd., Hardeeville. Call 843-784-3800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dean Rowland is a veteran senior editor and freelance writer living in Bluffton.