Al's D & I
21 May 2019
Martin Stover's secret to success is no secret. When asked about the popularity of Al's D & I, he will tell you, "It's because we take care of our customers. We earn and maintain their trust. THAT'S what keeps us in business."
Indeed, Al's has been in business since 1968 - back when it was a Conoco Gas Station - with evidence of its old gas stalls hidden between the evergreen trees out front. Stover, the owner of Al's for 18 years, hasn't changed the name, and hasn't changed the family owned paradigm.
"We are family owned and operated."
No longer a gas station, Al's is a busy automotive repair shop that most residents of Rapid City think of when it comes to servicing imports - and also extremely popular with those with domestic vehicles.
With an Audi and two Mercedes' in the stalls, I know they aren't boasting. Import business is constant. In fact, I've personally had a Range Rover, Audi, and an old Ford Bronco serviced by them (more times than I like to admit! It has a lot to do with my husband's love of vintage ...! ).
But just as busy with domestics, Al's is careful to note they service all makes and models.
Stover, watching me take note of the imports currently being worked on, added, "We get calls at the time from customers asking us 'if we buy X, Y, Z vehicle, can you service it for us?" It's harder to own and maintain a foreign vehicle in our community as most of those dealerships are found in Denver and Sioux Falls."
The answer, by the way, is a resounding YES.
One of their popular services is called the "show and tell." You make an appointment to bring the automobile in that you are thinking of purchasing, and they will take a look and tell you what kind of shape it is in. For roughly $100 you'll know what needs repaired/replaced, if it is has had flood damage (incredibly common, unfortunately), and what it will cost (or not) to get it where it needs to be.
We've used this service twice and both times their assessment was spot-on. We appreciated knowing what we were getting into with a fixer upper (such as for your child's first car), and if it was worth the price.
Peace of mind is worth every penny.
Servicing an incredible 12-18 vehicles a day, it appears there are a lot of residents out there that feel the same.
When Stover is asked what keeps him up at night, he ponders for a few minutes before sharing.
"There was a guy who was smitten with a BMW. He wanted to buy it and brought it in for a pre-purchase inspection. Unfortunately, we found many issues with the vehicle. We went over it with him, and told him that we do not recommend going forward with the purchase. Ultimately, weighing the risks was his call and he decided to buy it. Almost immediately, like literally after driving it off the lot, the car started to fail. Worst case scenario was playing out right on the road. Can you imagine his shock and anger? It was real. And directed at us. But, we reminded him that we did not recommend purchasing this shiny BMW because too many things were wrong/going to go wrong. He didn't want to hear it. He needed to be able to blame someone. I know it wasn't our fault. In no way were we liable, but we sure felt bad. No one likes to see someone else on the losing end of a deal. I often wonder how our reputation is conveyed through his eyes - but there is nothing we can do about that at this point. We just hope our customers trust our recommendations so this doesn't play out again."
Did you know it is not uncommon for Al's not to see a vehicle until it hits that 100,000 mile mark? Stover claims, "One hundred thousand miles is nothing for today's car. They are just getting started! In fact, most will go at least 200,000 miles with timely maintenance and repairs."
Stover offers this simple (but sage) advice for us this time of year:
1. Change your vehicle's fluids every summer.
2. Do not trust eBay for parts. "If the price is too good to be true - it is. Even when they claim the part is authentic. I've seen parts with very real looking packaging, but the actual part was a piece of junk. Don't fall for it."
3. It is not uncommon to see flood damaged vehicles for sale in our area. They don't always smell musty. When buying pre-owned, learn as much about the vehicle as you can.
Where to find Al's D & I
Hours Monday - Friday 7:30am to 5:30pm