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By Mike Ferrians
The Times 

Dayton Auto Repair successfully marks five years


February 1, 2024

Mike Ferrians

Robert Bryant celebrating Dayton Auto Repair's fifth anniversary.

DAYTON – In January, Robert Bryant marked 40 years of car repair experience as he celebrated Dayton Auto Repair's fifth anniversary. He and his wife Shelli opened the shop at 218 W. Main in January 2019.

According to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, less than forty percent of Washington's small businesses that opened in 2019 were still in business five years later in 2023. Bryant said he considered himself fortunate to have beaten the odds, especially opening shortly before the state put COVID-19 restrictions in place.

"We were considered essential for transportation," Bryant said. "When COVID-19 first hit, the phone didn't ring for four days. On the fifth day, it started ringing and didn't stop. It's been crazy ever since. It's been a blessing."

Bryant said he had to hire a second mechanic within a year and a third six months later. He had not anticipated he would become a manager as well as a certified mechanic.

The business is part of the Napa Network, one of 17,000 Napa Auto Care centers that require technicians to have Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certifications. He and his staff primarily work on domestic models and specialize in Dodge diesel engines.

Bryant credits his success to dealing honestly with customers and talking squarely about what ails their autos.

"I come from the dealership side where guys who wrote work orders wouldn't always interpret the issues correctly," he explained. "I don't use too much technical jargon with customers. I can't make them feel like I'm trying to overtalk things. Sometimes, instead of asking if their engine has a drone to it, I'll mouth the sounds, and they'll say, yeah, that's it."

Bryant said that treating people fairly and honestly helps build word-of-mouth advertising, which builds business volume and helps keep prices down. He added that drivers' attention to their automobiles is a key element in that process. As Bryant puts it, he would prefer servicing your car's differential - the mechanism that controls the variable wheel speed in turns - to rebuilding it.

"Your car is the second most important thing, next to your house," Bryant says. "I preach maintenance. It saves you money. Keep extra fluids in your vehicle and check them regularly."

The shop recently closed for one day to install new garage bay doors at the rear of the building, which may not seem like a grand way to celebrate five years of building his business. However, a key to Bryant's success may be his commitment to grinding away.

"I'm running out of room for the volume of business I have," Bryant says, adding that he may look at adding a couple more bays down the road – all to continue effective and affordable auto maintenance and repair for his customers.

Dayton Auto Repair is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information or to make an appointment, call 382-3189 or visit


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