Kevin Tidwell, formerly of Hillsboro and now living in rural Lincolnville, is the head mechanic at Shields Auto Service and Supply in Lincolnville.
Tidwell began working there in September, doing small jobs. He now mainly does engine and transmission jobs.
He has been involved in mechanics since a teen-ager in high school and has worked for various auto dealerships. He also went out on his own for a while and gained a reputation for doing good work.
Working at Shields Auto Service, Tidwell is attracting customers from outlying areas including Hillsboro, Newton, Wichita, Abilene, and Junction City. Sometimes, work orders result from breakdowns on the highway.
Tidwell doesn’t make a big salary, but he views himself as a partner with owner Gavin Shields, helping him to establish his business, which was launched last May.
He worked at Hillsboro Ford-Mercury and attended Newton Vocational-Technical School while in high school. He graduated from Hillsboro High School in 2008.
He attended Pratt Community College for two years and went on to Oklahoma State University, where he obtained Ford-certification.
Tidwell worked for Rusty Eck Ford in Wichita for two years before joining Shields Automotive. He works long days, often from 8 a.m. until 9 or 10 o’clock at night.
“Since I’ve started here, people have noticed how fast we’ve grown,” he said. “People like me. I get stuff done.”
Glenn and Donna Thiessen of Hillsboro are his parents.
Tidwell’s expertise frees Shields to focus on tires and repairs, working either at the business location or at farms, businesses, or residences. He also works on semis and farm equipment.
Shields, himself a highly trained and certified mechanic, said he sometimes sends specialized work to other businesses in the area, such as Webster Auto Service in Marion.
Operating without a bank credit line, Shields is working gradually to build up a supply of parts, tools, and other items for sale. He recently became a distributor for Airgas, a company that provides welding equipment and supplies. He also plans to become a supplier of bottled propane.
He is building a niche market for used tires and parts for older trucks, tractors, and trailers. He also acquires inoperable vehicles, fixes them, and sells them. Sometimes he acquires vehicles for the parts. He also sells used appliances and plastic barrels.
Another employee, David Vaughn, provides oil changes and tire repair.
“He gets it done,” Tidwell said.
The front rooms of the business, located at the junction of Main Street and U.S. 56/77, are still a work in progress. They will eventually provide a store for auto parts and supplies and a coffee stop and lounge for customers.
Tidwell is into demolition derbies, participating in 15 or so every year. He will likely be seen again this year in the derby at the Marion County Fair.