Carrie Rengers

Two Yost brothers, two Yost businesses and now, finally, two locations

What started as a one-man car shop almost four decades ago turned into a two-son shop with two businesses and now, for the first time, two separate locations.

Yost Auto Sales grew out of Yost Auto Service, one of the city’s best-known mechanics, which Russ Yost started in 1982 as Let Russ Fix It.

“I know, I know. I’m almost embarrassed to tell you,” he says of the name.

“It was basically me, and I just had a little helper, and I just started doing anything mechanical.”

Over the years, his sons Bryan and Russ joined the business, and the senior Russ Yost eventually began transitioning out of it.

Now, Bryan Yost owns the service side at 1818 E. Second St., which he’s overhauling.

“We’re basically going to reface it, put a little different design on it,” he says.

Yost plans exposed ceilings and more wood on the interior for “just more of a cozy feeling.”

The younger Russ Yost now owns the dealership side of the business, which his father separated from the service side a few years ago but still kept in the same building.

“It was a natural fit for me to take over the dealership side,” the younger Russ Yost says. “Not too many chefs in the kitchen, so to speak.”

Now, he’s building a new building across Second Street for the dealership along with the new Yost Driving School.

He and his brother will still work closely together, though, which is why it makes sense for the dealership to be nearby.

“We’re still close enough to where I can still come over and steal the Keurig coffee that he has up front,” Russ Yost says.

Russ Yost buys wholesale cars for customers for a flat $1,000 fee plus transportation costs, and he has Yost Auto Service service the cars first.

He’ll have only five to 10 cars on the lot for people to buy at any point.

“So our business model is a little bit different from your normal car lot.”

The elder Russ Yost, who sometimes goes by “Big Russ” to avoid confusion with his son, started buying a couple of cars a week for customers around 2005 when he noticed so many people bought wholesale cars elsewhere but came to him for service.

He says he figured he “might as well fix the cars and then sell them to our customers instead of having them go somewhere else and bring them here.”

The younger Russ Yost says, “The goal is to really save them money and time.”

His driving instruction business is taking off faster than he thought it would, he says.

“It’s actually been a lot more fun than I thought it would be,” Yost says. “It hasn’t been as scary as what most people might think.”

His new 5,100-square-foot building should be ready around November. He’ll take 2,500 square feet for his two businesses and then lease the rest of the space to another tenant or two.

The elder Russ Yost still has coffee with his sons once a week.

“They both do a better job than I did,” he says.

“I sit back, and I listen, and I watch them and how they work with people,” Yost says.

He says one of his main jobs was to teach customer care to his sons.

“I want them to go above and beyond.”

Otherwise, he says that “they can both dream, and they can both adventure and move forward.”

“I just see good things ahead.”