From a tire store to an AUTO GROUP...
Johnny and Gary Cheseldine of Cheseldine Auto Group have family ties to St. Mary’s County dating back to the 1600’s. Those bonds to the community are what builds great customer rapport. That’s also what set Cheseldine apart from its competitors.
Johnny opened an auto repair shop in 1989. Gary came on board five (5) years later to open Cheseldine Tire & Auto. Years later the brothers opened up Cheseldine Car Wash, and Cheseldine Auto Sales. “We service them, we clean them, and we sell them,” states Gary. “The only thing we do not do is body work, and upholstery.”
With a 10,000 sq. ft. facility and 15 lifts, Cheseldine Tire and Auto has the equipment and certified technicians to perform repairs and maintenance on most vehicles. “We do all mechanical services, as well as diagnostics and repairs just like the dealerships,” noted Johnny. In addition to mechanical repairs, the shop can supply and install multiple brand tires. Cheseldine is committed to keeping their customers comfortable in their cars. Once repairs are completed, customers can drive down to the Car Wash and let Cheseldine employees do a full detail.
The Cheseldine Car Wash features a 140-ft. tunnel. With nine self-serve bays and 16 vacuums, customers can stop in any time for a quick rinse or a full-service wash. The car wash has over a dozen employees ready to keep those freshly repaired cars spic and span.
In 2007, the Cheseldines went into the pre-owned vehicle sales business, under the mentor-ship of Lewie Aldridge, local car salesmen and previous owner of Aldridge Ford. “When we started in the car business, we didn’t know much about it, as far as the buying and selling side,” Johnny said. “Lewie was our mentor. He showed us the ropes and gave us direction.”
When the Cheseldine Auto Group buys a car, they can service and repair it on-site and clean it thoroughly. Customers can trust that those selling the cars are familiar with them. “We know the cars and all their history,” Johnny said. Cheseldine is so confident in what they buy and their work that they offer a three month, 5,000 mile warranty on every car they sell. Furthermore, customers can have confidence in bringing their car back for repairs and tune-ups. “Everything we sell we can service. We work on both foreign and domestic,” Johnny said.
Everyone that works in the various departments are the core of the Cheseldine brand. “That’s what makes our business,” Johnny said. “We think we have the best employees. They are like family.” Cheseldine maintains a low turnover rate, keeping many employees for decades. That consistency translates into great customer service. “When you come to any of our facilities, you will deal with the same employees,” Johnny stated.
Rather than being owned by a franchise, whose headquarters are out of state and hard to contact, Cheseldine Auto Group is owned by Gary and Johnny who are at one of the facilities most days. The difference between family-owned and big corporate owned businesses is that if a situation occurs, it can be handled in a timely fashion, due to the fact that the owners are readily available. The Cheseldine family, including all the employees, are personally, financially, and emotionally committed to the success of every transaction. Few things can fall through the cracks with everyone focused on the goal of customer satisfaction.
“Our grandfather had a local seafood business,” Johnny explained. “He taught us as kids that honesty and quality is the best we can offer. And we’ve been blessed, very blessed in St. Mary’s County.”
The Cheseldines feel an indelible obligation to the people and the economy of St, Mary’s County. “Being a local business, we see where the money can go to help charities that will help the community,” Johnny said. Each year, the managers of Cheseldine sit down and choose which organizations to support through fund-raising and direct donations. Recognizing that they can’t always help everyone that approaches, they try to give to local organizations. Over the years, recipients have included the Rescue Squad, schools, churches, and fire departments. Their involvement has also included Toys for Tots, Blessing of the Fleet, and Cruising for Cancer.