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    ‘LIKE THERAPY’ -- Fort Rucker auto skills center offers everything needed to keep vehicles running

    ‘LIKE THERAPY’ -- Fort Rucker auto skills center offers everything needed to keep vehicles running

    Photo By Jay Mann | The 26-bay Auto Skills Center on Fort Rucker has 13 automotive lifts, two motorcycle...... read more read more



    Story by Jay Mann 

    Fort Rucker Public Affairs Office

    FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Nestled back behind the Fort Rucker Fitness Center is one of the best kept secrets on post, a place where people go to talk with friends and work out their problems, all while working on their personal vehicles.

    “We are in a strange location back here, almost like our own little bubble,” said Tina Barber, auto skills center program manager.

    The 26-bay center has 13 automotive lifts, two motorcycle lifts, 12 flat bays, a paint booth and a body bay. “I wish you could see this place when the bays are full, it is almost therapeutic. You can walk through the crowded building and it is silent, other than the sounds of the tools. Everyone is in their zone. And then, someone will ask a question and people will stop what they are doing to help out. It really is like therapy for some of the people here,” said Barber.

    Customers share a comradery that makes the shop feel like a community, she added. “We really have had no real problems with our customer base. I would not say that folks are hiding here, everyone is busy working on their cars, but it certainly is a getaway for some people. It is a chance to take a break from whatever problems they are dealing with outside of the shop.”

    Barber explained that the center has a long history with the Fort Rucker community. “This auto skills center has been in business since 1968 – the back section was built then, and the front section was built in 1985.

    “We have two major programs here, the self-help program and the mechanic for hire program,” she continued. “The self-help program is where the customers do their own work, with instruction from us if they need it. The mechanic for hire program is where they turn their work over to us and we do it for them.”

    Chad “Doc” Grundhauser, shop lead, said that customers should not feel intimidated to try the self-help program. “We are here to help, but if the customer feels more comfortable asking a woman, Tina and Tonia are here to walk them through it.”

    Barber said she knows her customers move every few years and might not own a tool collection, so the shop will lend tools to the people working on their vehicles in the bays. “We have almost every type of tool that someone might need, but if we don’t have it, we will do our best to get it.

    “We also operate a car wash with two manual bays and an automatic bay, and fill propane tanks and RV propane tanks,” she added. “Once, a gentleman even brought his boat up here and we were able to help him pull the motor.”

    The auto skills center also hosts events for the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program, and Boy and Girl Scout Troops from as far away as Lexington, Kentucky.

    “I tell the kids who say they are not sure how to work on their vehicles, ‘when you first got to Rucker did you know how to fly?’ They say, ‘no,’ so I say, ‘I’m going to show you how.’ That is how you learn – be it brakes or an oil change, we’ll walk you through it,” Grundhauser said.

    He added that the patrons working on their cars are representative of the entire Fort Rucker population. “If you have an ID card, come talk with us or give us a call at 255-9725. We get women and men in here – people of all ages and experience levels. And if you don’t know how to do something, let us know and we will help you out.”

    For more on what the auto skills center offers, call or visit



    Date Taken: 12.02.2022
    Date Posted: 12.08.2022 10:37
    Story ID: 434750
    Location: FORT RUCKER, AL, US 

    Web Views: 58
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