Mobile mechanic makes house calls
FRONT ROYAL — Back in the summer of 2009, Wes Eisentrout, like many Americans, was facing bleak economic prospects.
Eisentrout, a native of Morgantown, West Virginia, was working as a mechanic for the Virginia Inland Port when he was laid off in August 2009. A mechanic since he was 18, Eisentrout has worked on everything from Mack trucks to Ford Focuses. So facing unemployment, Eisentrout said he had two options.
“At that time the economy wasn’t pretty, so the only thing I could do was go back to a former employer and they weren’t doing very well,” he said. “Or, I could go into business and try.”
And try he did. Eisentrout unloaded his retirement and founded My Mobile Mechanic in Front Royal. Instead of paying a wrecker service to tow a broken down car to the shop, Eisentrout repairs cars at the scene, typically in driveways or parking lots.
However, just as he was starting out, Eisentrout ran into a little trouble, he said.
“I tore my bicep and it rolled up, went down my arm and atrophied,” he said. “I couldn’t stop to get surgery … I was just starting out and if I would’ve stopped for that, I would’ve had to hung it up.”
But before getting started, Eisentrout needed a work truck, a rig to haul his tool boxes, ramps, jacks, engine lifts and auto parts. So he went to eBay and bought “The Green Machine,” a F-Super Duty with a boom crane on the back to lift heavy objects and American flags on its sides.
“The company we bought from was up in New York and they used the truck all over Ground Zero and Manhattan,” he said. “It’s probably one of the reasons why it’s pretty worn out for having 90,000 miles on it, since it has all that idle time.”
Since starting the business, Eisentrout has been all over the map, working on mail trucks in Charlottesville, Model A’s in College Park, Maryland, and fork lifts at his old stomping grounds, the Inland Port. Eisentrout said a lot of his work is contract work for large companies, such as CBS News in Washington, D.C. and Warren County Fire and Rescue.
“I’m grateful for the work, but I’d like to do more work for private motorists because it takes a while for the invoices to come through,” he said. “We get it to them pretty fast, but some of them take a while to cut the check.”
Eisentrout said he would like to hire three people to help him with the jobs, however the work is too sporadic for him to afford it. However, when he does run into a big job, he’ll call up his daughter, Stephanie Gardener and her husband Rick Gardner, for help.
Eisentrout said Stephanie does everything from filing paperwork to “turning wrenches.” He said Stephanie has been known to stop traffic inside the beltway.
“The funny thing is, you know how people in the city just walk with blinders, like you can drop over dead on the sidewalk and people would just keep on walking,” Eisentrout said. “When she’s there working, people stop, walk over to the fence and stare.”
Stephanie added, “One time, there was a lady walking by and she started freaking out, yelling ‘There’s a girl under that car!'”
Eisentrout jokingly said he’d probably retire when people “see my name in the wrong part of the paper” or if he hits the lottery. However, he said if things “click in a few more years” he’d like to be able to hand the business over to his daughter.
Almost six years in business, Eisentrout said the key to success is “perseverance.”
Stephanie said it’s because “he’s too hard-headed.”
My Mobile Mechanic is located at 115 Chester St. in Front Royal. Eisentrout said people needing assistance can call 540 550-3470 anytime and he will at least be able to look over the vehicle in about a day. He also said he does not repair small engines, such as for a lawn mower or weed cutter.
Contact staff writer Henry Culvyhouse at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or email@example.com