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Bob's Automotive changes ownership on Monday

Dave and Madonna Smithburg, left, are prepared to take the reins from Mary and Bob Keller, right, after the Kellers announced they would sell their business, Bob’s Automotive in Fairfield, to Smithburg Automotive effective Monday, Nov. 2. (Andy Hallman/The Union)
Dave and Madonna Smithburg, left, are prepared to take the reins from Mary and Bob Keller, right, after the Kellers announced they would sell their business, Bob’s Automotive in Fairfield, to Smithburg Automotive effective Monday, Nov. 2. (Andy Hallman/The Union)
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Bob’s Automotive has been a fixture in Fairfield for more than 37 years.

Beginning Monday with the retirement of owners Bob and Mary Keller, the shop will become part of Smithburg Automotive.

Bob Keller said that the time has come to retire to be able to enjoy some things he missed out on, like traveling and watching his grandchildren play ball, while running the business.

“It’s different than having a job and being able to tell your boss I need this day and this day off, simply because you’re running a business,” he said. “If one of your employees is sick, you’ve got to fill in.

“There’s a lot of things over the years I’ve had to give up. That’s really the big part of it.”

The Kellers started Bob’s Automotive in a small, rented garage in 1983 before moving to their current location in the Fairfield Industrial Park in 1984.

Keller said that his biggest reward, over the years, has been “building lasting relationships with all of my customers who I can say are truly great friends.”

“I hope to still see a lot of them, but I will absolutely miss that,” he added.

Dave Smithburg said that one of the few things that will change about Bob’s Automotive is its name.

“There will be no immediate changes for our customers,” Smithburg said. “What they’re used to is what they’ll still be getting. It will be the same continued services in the same fashion that they were used to.”

Dave and his wife, Madonna, purchased Smithburg Automotive from Dave’s grandfather, Everett Smithburg in 1992.

In addition to Smithburg Automotive, they own and operate the BP station on Burlington Avenue.

Dave Smithburg said that in recent months, he had been looking to expand his business.

“We were looking for an expansion of some sort, because our two children came to work for us,” he said. “Bob’s came in and wanted to know if we wanted to buy them, and that was obvious that that was the expansion I was looking for.

“Luckily, something brought us together. We’re just going to continue the tradition.”

It was the right deal at the right time for both families.

Now, the Kellers will have the time to do some of the things they have long wanted to do.

“We have a place down at the Lake of the Ozarks that we like to spend some time at,” Keller said. “We’d kind of like to be able to divide our time between Fairfield and down there.”

He also hopes to eventually drive the entire length of Route 66.

“We have this big, beautiful country with a lot of things to see and do, and we want to be able to see and do them,” Keller said.