New state-of-the-art shop brings changes to Farmington auto repair scene
Farmington, Mo. – Derek Wade, co-owner of Wade’s Auto Service, wanted to make an immediate impact with the recent opening of his new shop in Farmington.
“There are a lot of niche shops in this area, like tire shops, oil-change shops, and muffler shops, and we wanted to be a full-service auto repair shop that provides the best-quality work, no matter what the repair is”, Wade said.
The 2,600-square-foot shop has four bays, three of them equipped with brand-new Challenger lifts capable of servicing cars, trucks and SUVs. “We also have the best diagnostic equipment available right now,” Wade said. “We have a Ford VCM II, which is the same as Ford dealerships use. For General Motors, we use the GM MDI, which is also the equivalent of what dealerships use, and for European and Asian models, we use the Snap-on Solus Ultra.”
Those diagnostic tools give his shop a competitive edge, Wade said, because “they also let us reprogram factory computers, control modules, and the new key fobs. A lot of people think only the dealers can do it, but we have the equipment to provide that service on Ford and GM vehicles right here in the shop.” Wade added that his lead technician, Zach Watson, worked for Ford for eight years and is highly skilled in electronics and diagnostics.
Among the other state-of-the-art equipment at his shop are a Hunter alignment rack, a Robinair A/C recovery and recharge machine, and a new emission leak detection machine.
The Wade family has a long history in the automotive industry in the area, he said, and he wanted to bring his family name back to the region. Wade was born and raised in Farmington, where his great-grandfather, C.E. Wade, owned the Farmington Motor Co. for many years. The story of how Wade’s Auto Service became a reality starts, though, with another shop not too far away — Propst Auto Service in Festus, Mo.
Wade began working with Dennis Cordray at Propst in 2003. Cordray and Wade would go on to partner with fellow mechanic Don Graham to form what is now the current ownership team for both Propst Auto Service and Wade’s Auto Service.
Wade decided in the summer of 2015 that he was going to open a shop in Farmington and approached his partners, hoping they would be on board with the plan. “My wife and I decided that it was now or never”, he said. “I was driving cars from Farmington up to Festus for a customer base down here, fixing them at Propst, and then driving them back down when they were finished. I knew I had enough customers down here already who would be ready for a new shop.”
Cordray and Graham gave Wade their full support, and by early December, Wade had the new shop up and running.
“We completely gutted out our building and remodeled everything,” Wade said. “It was a total overhaul.” When he opened the shop, he brought Watson with him from Propst Auto.
Wade’s has been open for only two months but business is already steady. “We service between 25 and 30 vehicles a week on average,” he said. When asked about how he has managed this pace with just himself and one other technician, he said, “So far, I am splitting time between the office and the shop. Dennis has also been coming down from Propst and helping me here while we get things situated. Eventually I would like to spend most of my time in the shop, though.”
Wade said he plans to hire a part-time service writer in the near future to help with the front end. And he also hopes to bring on board, as a technician, his cousin, Tyler Wade, who is currently working at Propst Auto.
Wade said he uses AllData for estimating labor costs, which he has found “to be the best program out there. It is easy to use and very accurate.”
As for parts sourcing, Wade said his main supplier is Lowe Automotive in St. Louis, which has serviced Propst for many years. “Our salesman, Darvin Pauley, even got them to set up a special delivery route to our new location,” he said. “We like to use them because they are a direct distributor of AC Delco and Motorcraft parts. They also have high-quality aftermarket options as well.”
If the shop needs dealer parts, Wade said, he relies on Reuther Ford, Twin City Toyota, and Lucas Smith Dodge. “Those dealerships partner with each other and deliver parts on one truck to us twice a day,” he said. “We also get GM parts from Weir Chevy out of Red Bud, Ill. We like to use the best-quality parts, and I think our customers appreciate that.”
Wade’s is a brand-new venture but already there are plans for the future, including a grand-opening celebration. “We are going to wait until it warms up a bit and have a spring grand opening,” he said. “We will have BBQ and a few other cool things planned. We sponsor a local sprint car and will have it here along with our signature vintage wrecker that has been in the family for years.” Wade has also purchased an adjacent lot with hopes of expanding his shop to nearly double its current size. “We plan on being here forever and want to our customers to know it,” he said. “We plan on being honest and providing the best-quality work for years to come. This is a dream come true for me and my family.”