January 29, 2023

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Family relinquishes Emmitt’s Auto Repair, but wheels will keep turning at shop

By Lee Wardlaw
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Eco-friendly COVE SPRINGS – The indication outside the house of Emmitt’s Auto Repair on U.S. Highway 17 tells motorists the shop is on vacation. The iconic automobile repair service shop specializing in brakes, steering and suspension set to reopen on Jan. 3.

But for the initially time in 50 years – 22 of them north of metropolis limitations, it will be in the palms of a new operator.

Throughout a much more than 50 %-century run in Duval and Clay counties, Emmitt’s saw a blessed time of enterprise and loved ones-friendly support to consumers at the store, with the Rigsby’s creating a small business model like no other during their time in North Florida.

With Teresa Rigsby heading into retirement, she resolved to transform the company around to any person else. Leaving a legacy that took generations to create, even so, will not be uncomplicated.

Adhering to the passing of her husband, Teresa not only experienced to operate the store’s finances but she was thrust into a normal manager’s job, as well.


She now will wade through a working day-by-day healing method while continuing to commit useful time with her grandchildren.

“One working day at a time, and my grandkids,” she said.

It will be up to the new owner to sustain a common that took decades to create.

The popularity that founder Emmitt Rigsby, who then passed the torch to his son, Matthew, set up was that of tough operate, toughness and a belief in obtaining the position finished at all expenditures.

When mechanic Matthew Rigsby died on Aug. 3, 2020, the county not only shed a fantastic mechanic but a greater-than-life determine in the community whose memory will eternally be remembered.

He served as the lifeblood of the car restore shop his personality shone by at all moments. He was good at fixing a vehicle, and no matter of the instances, he constantly was sincere about the status of their trip – all even though finding a way to allow for his basic-slash, and brutally straightforward, persona to glow by way of.

“It was his way, or no way,” Teresa Rigsby, his late wife, explained laughingly.

Hundreds of inhabitants Have walked inside the doorways of the auto store. 1 of the longtime prospects has been the Clay County Sheriff’s Place of work, which receives all of its often-scheduled alignments done there.

Customers came from all more than Florida and out of condition, Teresa reported. Emmitt drew these types of a cult subsequent that just one resident who moved to Louisiana would make the excursion back to have his auto serviced at Emmitt’s.

“Matt was incredibly well-informed. He knew almost everything heading on in that shop. He touched each individual car and designed positive it was right when it went out of the driveway,” she mentioned. “(The community) thought in him.”

Inhabitants have reliable in Rigsby’s auto suggestions, but it was a phenomenon that went a great deal further than getting a clear set of wheels on the street.

“My spouse was difficult, and he ran a tight ship. But all people came to him for information, and every little thing that he stated was like liquid gold. Customers would just come and pour out their hearts to him, and he would just take the time to discuss to them. They would occur to him for almost everything, even spouse and children difficulties.

They appreciated his boldness. They knew in which he stood, and they liked it,” Rigsby mentioned.

New ownership will have the benefit of retaining two of Emmitt’s top rated mechanics. Lead technician Rick Santillo and mechanic John Holmes will be retained as the company moves into a new era of offering rapid, welcoming and faithful shopper services. Among the two, they have worked for far more than 37 years at Emmitt’s.

Teresa said a single of the ailments of the sale was each of her complete-time workers would be retained.

“I manufactured confident that my men had been certain employment. And I assure you the (new operator) desired them,” Teresa reported. “I want all of my individuals to know that Rick and John will even now be there. They have that level of believe in in those men.”


Teresa experienced a ultimate concept for her family’s faithful prospects, stating:

“I just want to thank you on behalf of my father-in-legislation, partner and the total household. I want to thank you for all of these several years of coming to us. I just want to reach out and contact them, and simplicity their thoughts. Give the other enterprise a probability due to the fact my guys are being there.”