Kathryn van der Pol said she and her husband, Sybren, had received offers to sell their neighborhood auto store to real estate developers, but they declined because they wanted the historic Garden Oaks business to stay. .
The longtime owners of Liberty Hoepfl garage, 4610 N. Shepherd Dr., finally received an offer they couldn’t refuse, as it came from a persistent buyer who worked in the auto repair industry and is committed to continuing the workshop’s long tradition of service. to the community.
The business was sold at the end of September to Matthew Schwab, a Heights resident, who is considering renaming it Clutch Automotive North Shepherd to match its two affiliate stores in Friendswood and on Dairy Ashford Road. Kathryn van der Pol said she and her husband, who bought Liberty Hoepfl Garage from the original owner in 2004, still own the property and will remain active in the North Shepherd neighborhood and thoroughfare.
“We turned him back several times. We were not ready, ”said van der Pol. “But we thought, ‘Well, he really wants to do it. He wants to preserve the legacy of what we have built here. “
Schwab said his business was targeting Liberty Hoepfl Garage, which opened over 75 years ago as Adolf Hoepfl & Son Garage, because it is a successful and well-known small business that he wants to manage. And although he will change his name in the weeks or months to come, he said customers will continue to see the names and influences of the Hoepfl family and van der Pols, who rebranded the shop two years ago. years and gave it a “Liberty” with red, white and blue decorations and offering free copies of the US Constitution to customers.
Schwab said he also plans to keep the same employees and menu of services while modernizing the way the store operates. For example, Clutch Automotive plans to make service appointments online and will communicate with customers via SMS while their vehicles are being serviced.
“They will be the same faces, the same service and really the same honesty and integrity as Kathryn and Sybren,” Schwab said. “You will have the same honesty, the same integrity and the same quality of work. These will be the things that say the same thing, with slightly newer systems and processes. We will take pictures of the vehicle and text them to customers. They can approve and deny services on their cell phones, can pay on their cell phones. Everything will be very web based.
As part of the sale of the auto store, the van der Pol are in the process of purchasing an event center and RV park in Washington County to be called Texas Heritage RV Park. The couple are also trying to start a charter school called the Heritage Classical Academy.
Kathryn, who is the president of the North Shepherd Community Alliance, said she and Sybren will spend half of their time in Washington County and the other half at their home in Inwood Forest, where they can keep tabs on l on-the-job school, auto store and other businesses on North Shepherd.
“I’ll still own (on Shepherd), so I still have a stake in this neighborhood, a big stake,” she said. “But it’s probably an opportunity for us to change gears a bit and focus more on school and travel a bit. I want to teach, can’t wait to teach, and we’ll try to help other auto shops.