MORGANTOWN - On Thursday, September 6, 2012, Keith and Ken Romig celebrated 25 years in business at Morgantown Auto Parts by offering a free lunch to the public. There were several tents and tables set up in the shop parking lot, with sandwiches, cold salads, drinks, and snacks to be had. Parked cars overflowed onto South Mulberry Street as dozens of patrons came and went. Some were passing through for business as usual, and helped themselves to a coke and a scoop of macaroni salad, while others came to enjoy a meal and congratulate the Romigs and their employees on a quarter century of good commerce.
Ken Romig, co-owner and President of the Morgantown NAPA, first began working at the shop at 108 S. Mulberry St. as a summer job between his college classes. Once he finished with school in 1987, Ken, along with his father Lester, purchased the business (then a Big A Auto Parts) from its owner, John Zajac. In 1998 the shop changed to a NAPA franchise and Keith, who was employed at the shop, came in as a co-owner in 1999 following the passing away of Lester Romig. Regardless of the brand on the sign, the Romig's have always tied a portion of their success to their employee's experience.
'Most of the guys here have been here forever,' Ken said of his staff, 'Our head counter man Tony (Palopoli), here's been here 12 years, and most of us have been here, off and on, for about twenty years.'
'We have a staff that really knows their stuff, and they are very people-oriented too,' said Keith. 'Tony - he has at least 30 years of experience in the business. We really get most of our business from repeat customers, and that's because of the quality of our service.'
William Winn of Morgantown and Gene Yelk of Elverson have been long-time customers of Morgantown Auto Parts. They came out for lunch and to show their support for the Romigs on the 25th anniversary of their business. Both Winn and Yelk typically work on older cars and have been pleased with their past experiences as customers.
'I pretty much buy everything here,' said Winn. 'They treat you good here and they are always willing to help you out by looking up information on the problems you are having. (I feel like I) have a good relationship with them. I play with a lot of old stuff and they really help out with the paint and the body materials I need.'
'This is where I come for my auto body parts,' Yelk said, 'Dealing with (Morgantown Auto Parts) has been good for me. They do a really great job matching the paint I need for antique cars.'
Another helpful factor for attracting business is the Romigs' activity level in the community. Keith serves as Chief of the Twin Valley Fire Department, and Ken has a history in both the fire department and youth athletic organizations in the area. Their shop has always contributed to the community through things such as sponsorships.
'I used to help coach baseball (in youth leagues) and even helped get football started at Twin Valley. We frequently provide donations to organization that need it, it is nice to have a small business in the area that lets you do that,' said Ken.
Their outlook is both a show of support for the community they grew up in and a show of personal support for their friends and neighbors - many who are like-mindedly generous with what limited free time they have.
'We have very good customers,' said Keith. 'The 'hometown boys' – that's what I call them – they really keep us going. Being in a community that isn't too big but keeps growing, that lets you get to know a lot of people.'
That feeling of community became evident when Ken fought a recent battle against cancer. He said that the inquiries to his staff about his health were very comforting to him.
'To know that there were that many people asking for me (when I was diagnosed with cancer) was a very nice thing,' he said.
With a combination of residential, industrial and agricultural customers, Morgantown Auto Parts has been able to withstand economic ups and downs which other companies struggle with. Plus, on the other side, the relationships they maintain with their own suppliers and service providers are long running and strong.
'Knowing those who you do business with means a lot to us,' said Ken. 'We have had the same accountant, lawyer and vendors for all of the 25 years we have been in business. Quaker City Motor Parts, for example, I know the people in that company well from top to bottom, and we share the same values. Business is a two way street, it is not a one way street.'
Being blessed with good employees, customers and vendors have indeed been prime factors allowing for reaching the 25 year milestone, but there is also one other major reason behind Morgantown Auto Parts' success according to Ken.
'I had a friend who is a successful businessman once tell me 'as long as you work harder, smarter, and longer than the person next to you, you will be successful'. That's why we work the way we do and that is why we do things like stay open seven days a week.'
Morgantown Auto Parts can be contacted by phone at 610-286-0065.
Keith Romig reminds the community that raffle tickets are still available for the Twin Valley Fire Department's Ninth Annual Holiday Harley and Cash Raffle – with the top prize being a 2013 Harley Davidson Fatboy. For contest info visit www.tvfd69.com/content/fundraisers
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