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Taking the road less traveled
By Teresa Bigham/The Hesperian-Beacon—
LOCKNEY – The road to owning his own business began with a high school co-op class and the love of repairing vehicles.
Steve Wright, owner of Wright’s Auto, said he had no training when we applied for a job at Johnson and Johnson Garage after he graduated high school in 1992. He had only swept floors at Dan’s Auto in Lockney before he graduated.
“This was my dream job,” Wright said. “I love working with my hands and the challenge of finding what’s wrong with vehicles.”
The trip from being a mechanic to owner of the shop was not a planned one, Wright said.
Wright’s adventure begins with brothers Ike and Lavon Johnson, owners of Johnson and Johnson Garage. It was the wives of the two, Hazel Raper Johnson and Lucille Jarboe Johnson, who encouraged the brothers in 1945 to begin saving for their own shop by putting a piggy bank, with some pennies in it, under the Christmas tree with a note that read, “The beginning of Johnson and Johnson Garage.”
By February 1946, the Johnson brothers had opened their own garage in the old Harve Pennington building. And a year later, the pair expanded to building on Locust Street, where Wright Auto is today.
Jerry Johnson, the son of Lavon and Hazel, had worked in the business since he was a small boy. In 1978 the brothers’ partnership was dissolved. Jerry became the shop foreman and Lavon became sole owner. After the death of Lavon in 1979, Jerry purchased the business from his mother.
Wright went to work for Jerry at Johnson and Johnson Garage in early 1992. With hard work and dedication, he was soon taking on more responsibility. He was named foreman not long after he started.
Steve and his wife, Tarri, who have known each other since childhood, married in 1980. Steve grew up in Friona and Tarri in Silverton, but after they married they made Lockney their home.
In 2010 Johnson approached Wright about purchasing Johnson and Johnson Garage.
“I went home and told Tarri about the offer,” Steve said. “We prayed about it and knew we had to do this because not only did I love my job, but we were worried about all the employees there being let go. Plus, we did not want our community to lose another business.
“We didn’t know how we could possible buy the business, but we had to try. With our faith in the Lord and backing from this community our dream came true.”
Today Wright’s Auto employees six people, Lynton Garrett, Felipe Gatica, Tim Roberts, Curtis Dalrymple, Justin Wright and the couple’s grandson, Cayden Pritchard.
Pritchard will be going into high school this fall. He is following in his grandpa’s footsteps.
Right now, Pritchard is sweeping the floors, stocking parts and taking out trash a few hours every day.
“I want to own my own auto repair shop just like my grandpa,” Pritchard said. “Next to my dad, my grandpa is the best man on Earth.”
Tarri Wright has taught elementary school for 28 years, and she recently retired from LISD. She has begun working more in the office at Wright’s Auto and taking care of her grandchildren.
The Wrights raised two children, Brandi and Justin. Both children also call Lockney home.
Brandi is an emergency room nurse at the Codgell Hospital and Justin works alongside his dad.
The couple also have six grandchildren, Caleb Pritchard, Caden Pritchard, Carson Pritchard, Carly Wright, Caycen Wright and Callen Wright.
For all your automotive repair needs, truck and tractor repairs and even well motor repairs call 806-652-2335 for an appointment.