When Robby Elliott was in fifth grade, he went to work cleaning up around the family-owned Purcell Automotive for his grandfather, Don Elliott.
His second day on the job, he pulled a transmission from a pickup.
Now 37, Robby has worked 28 years at Purcell Automotive. He’s owned the business for the past seven years.
The senior Elliott opened the mechanic shop at 830 S. Green Ave., in 1967.
Robby’s father, Randy, was the second generation to run the garage.
Robby is the third and now there’s a fourth waiting in the wings. Robby’s soon to be 8-year-old son, Bergen, is already showing signs he will be every bit as much a motorhead as his dad.
Robby also has a daughter, 4-year-old Maggie who is “all girl.”
The shop is staffed by four mechanics and Robby. Keeping the business in the family is Robby’s sister, Amanda, who handles the office.
“We do pretty much everything but paint and body,” said Robby, who still does some of the mechanical work himself.
Certainly vehicles in the 21st century aren’t the same beasts as those in his grandfather’s day.
The business has evolved along with the internal combustion engine.
“We stay in business because of my customers,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade my job for any job.”
The challenge of working on all makes and models of vehicles is the norm for independent repair shops like Purcell Automotive.
And really the similarities among most makes are relatively minor mechanically speaking.
With one exception.
“Anything made in Germany,” Robby said. “They’re different from everything.”
His clients hail from all corners of the United States, and definitely all across Oklahoma. Trucks are shipped in from Pennsylvania, Texas, Kansas and Missouri.
There is no shortage of work.
“We’re always accepting new clients,” he said, “and will help anyone.”
The biggest mistake an owner can make is failing to maintain a vehicle.
It’s a mistake that can have costly consequences by the time Robby is consulted to resolve a mechanical problem.
It’s a shame, really, because Robby said vehicles today are a lot easier to maintain in peak running condition because computerization makes it so much simpler to diagnose a mechanical problem.
In addition to vehicles, the garage regularly works on boat motors, motorcycles, motor homes and the like.
Robby was born and raised in Purcell. He attended Mid-America Technology Center where he studied diesel technology.
To this day he prefers diesel over gasoline engines.
Purcell Automotive is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“I went to school and worked and when I got out of high school, I went to work full time,” he said. “I worked and what I made, I used to go hunting and fishing and things like that.
“As long as my health is good, I’ll be here. I have no intention of retiring.”