It was 1982 and David Yearwood was 24 years old.
“I was working for my older brother when I first started,” he told the Lake Oconee News.
In fact, all three Yearwood brothers were working at Ronnie’s repair shop in Union Point. Ronnie, Johnny and David had a pretty good business going, fixing vehicles that were broken down or damaged in wrecks.
Then one day a 19-year-old local girl came in with a car that had just been in an accident.
“She wrecked her car,” Yearwood explains. “I knew her mom and grandmother for years.”
“He came up and said, ‘would you like to go out?” Suzette Yearwood today laughs. “And I said, ‘I’ve got a concussion right now, but sure!”
They dated and got married the next year.
Since 1997, David Yearwood has run his own auto repair shop on Willow Run Road in Greensboro. He joins other successful business people who were born and raised in Greene County.
Yearwood’s family lived in Union Point for years. His Dad ran a gas station there. David calls it an old mom and pop type place where you could get the car filled up, windows washed, repairs done and pick up some groceries if you needed them.
“I started out pumping gas and fixing tires and it gradually grew from there,” he said.
And that is where he caught the bug.
“I think it was just watching Dad and being amazed with him rebuilding transmissions,” said Yearwood. “You know, you see this transmission in a million pieces and the next thing you know he can drive you down the road in it. Like, man, he did a good job on that!”
He attended Greene County High School but dropped out in the 11th grade so he could “get started working.”
He learned a lot under hoods at Chevy and Ford places in Greensboro but he also studied and soon earned his G.E.D. degree.
After the three Yearwood brothers worked together for a while then David and Johnny set up their own shop for more than 6 years. Eventually, David said they realized there was so much business that 24 years ago he bought land on Willow Run Road and set up his own shop. They have been there ever since.
Today, you might say the brothers Yearwood have Greene County covered for all types of vehicle repairs. Johnny’s still in business as Yearwood’s Auto Service on East Broad Street in Greensboro and Ronnie runs Yearwood’s Garage on Washington Highway in Union Point.
David says there’s no fierce competition among them, “I think there’s plenty to go around.”
For all the Yearwood’s, it is a family business. His wife, Suzette, their two sons, Matt and Jacob, and Matt’s wife, Stacie, make up most of the staff. Chris Nash, who has worked at Yearwood’s since shortly after he opened the business, is the only non-Yearwood employee, although they count him as part of the family. David also has a daughter who lives in Atlanta.
Yearwood says business has been good. When COVID-19 shut down the world last March, new business disappeared but, he said, they still were busy.
“If we hadn’t had so much backlog, it could have been a problem,” he said, “but we never didn’t have anything to do.”
The real damage the pandemic has caused, Yearwood explained, is how masks, social distancing and people staying home cut down on his personal connection with customers.
“I’ve had a lot of people tell me that they like talking to me about their car,” he said, “not just dropping it off with one person and then somebody else does the work. I think that has gone a long ways with the business. I learned that from my Dad and watching him do that for years.”
When he is not tweaking transmissions, you can find him on a riding lawn mower cutting the grass around his business and at their home.
Grilling out is one of his big hobbies. It does not matter if it’s steak, chicken or pork chops.
“I’ve got a Kamado grill and I love cooking on that,” he said. “It’s the flavor that you get from the smoke.”
And, of course, he’s a big NASCAR fan. A photo hangs in the lobby of his business that shows him suited up at the NASCAR Racing Experience at Atlanta Motor Speedway. His family gave him a gift of two sessions at the track.
“It was really cool,” he beamed. “The first session you get used to the track. The instructors, after the first session, will let you go faster and pass cars. I got up to 153 miles per hour!”
The almost 62-year-old drives a 2015 Ford F-150 to work and home at night.
At the end of the day, David Yearwood says he just feels better when he can do a good job at a fair price and treat the customer like he would want to be treated.
“Some say ‘I know you’ll treat me right. Fix it and do the best you can and call me when its ready.’ And that makes you feel pretty good knowing that somebody will trust you that much with their vehicle,” Yearwood said.