Ryan Martin has automotive engineering in his blood.
His grandfather owned a convenience store with an automotive repair garage and raced at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem. His father had a garage, as well.
Martin began working on cars as soon he was old enough to pick up a wrench. Years later, at the age of 26, he has opened his own garage called Martin Mechanics at 1806 Cotton Grove Road.
The shop opened in January and is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m.-6 p.m. and 8 a.m.-noon on Saturday.
"I was in (my father's garage) all the time turning wrenches for friends and then it got to where people started asking me to do their stuff because they found out that I was reliable and that I knew my equipment," Martin explained. "I had careers working for large companies, but it wasn't what I wanted to do. It wasn't where my heart was, so I decided to open up my own business here."
The shop offers both automotive and small engine repair, including lawnmowers, chainsaws, ATVs and dirt bikes. Three bays are dedicated to automotive needs while one is for small engine repair. All military and first responders receive a 10 percent discount.
Martin Mechanics is also Nationwide Insurance certified, meaning the shop offers roadside assistance and three years and 36,000 miles on most parts and a lifetime warranty on others. Under the program, a driver with Nationwide Insurance anywhere in the country can be towed to a nearby certified shop and the defective part will be fully refunded as well as fully funding the repair costs.
In the future, Martin said the shop will perform inspections, alignments and offer cooling system services.
"We have enough resources to take care of everybody's needs," Martin said. "My saying is, if it has oil in it, then I can fix it."
Martin said he entered a program in high school where he started automotive classes at Davidson County Community College. He added that ever since he could begin driving, he's been under a hood.
He discovered that the building on Cotton Grove Road became available in November, and he put down his first payment in December.
"I just went full steam head on and took a shot at it," Martin said. "It was a pretty quick decision. We took a risk. I'm not some family that's come from money or anything like that. We took a risk and here we are."
Martin said he and his fiancée, Angel Byrd, have tried to make the shop feel homey and similar to other places that are coming to Lexington. He wants it be a comfortable atmosphere where customers don't feel pressured into purchasing a service.
According to Martin, there are moments when people walk in and underestimate him because of his age.
"But when I speak to them and I'm very fluent talking about the equipment, they realize I know what I'm talking about," Martin said. "And then when I do the job, and they are completely satisfied, I can get gratification out of that. They say, 'Man, he really does know what he's doing, this is really good.'"
Martin said in the past two months, business has been steady, and that customers appreciate Martin Mechanics' honesty and fair prices. The best part to him has been seeing all of the new faces even though he's lived in Lexington all of his life.
He joked that if his grandfather were still alive, he would be sitting in the corner, telling him exactly what to do and asking him what he's doing and why he's taking so long.
But Martin knows his grandfather would be proud to see the automotive gene continuing to be carried forward.
"The family is supportive," Martin said. "They're happy to see me doing well and happy to see me do what I've always wanted to do."
Ben Coley can be reached at (336) 249-3981, ext. 227 or at email@example.com. Follow Ben on Twitter: @LexDispatchBC