By Stephanie Rebman
Roy White can remember playing in the parts department at Ford Motor Co. at age 8. Now at 50, he’s still got his hands in the business.
Growing up with a family in the auto industry set White’s career path, and a visit 19 years ago to see a relative in Tupelo yielded White a job offer on the spot and a home move-in ready. For the past nine years, he’s been a service adviser at Blackmon Chevrolet, building a bridge between customers and the mechanics.
“I meet and greet customers,” he said. “They come in and tell me what’s wrong with their car. I translate what you tell me to what a mechanic would understand. I try to treat all my customers the way I want to be treated. I try to put myself in their shoes at all times. I’m a strong believer of building trust with all customers.”
His gentleness and quiet, caring demeanor puts customers at ease, and that interaction is his favorite part of the business, and he wants them to go home happy.
“They’re there for a reason,” he said. “Our cars are an extension of us and who we are. Without it we feel lost. If I can’t satisfy you, I take it personally, especially if there’s a need and I can’t help.”
He and the service team at Chevy did have a pretty foul case to solve with a newer car recently. White said a bad odor was coming from the new car, so they replaced the carpet, then the upholstery, then the headliner. But the horrible smell still wouldn’t go away. One of the mechanics started investigating the trunk, and turns out the culprit was Chinese takeout left in the wheel well where the spare tire goes.
Another customer of White’s kept something else in his trunk – money, thousands of dollars, in fact because he felt that was the safest place.
Yet another customer owned a strip club in Panama City, Fla. and kept polariods of his dancers hung up in his car.
While the auto shop atmosphere is prone for colorful stories and language, White would rather not repeat those; however has gotten kicked out of places for witnessing his faith.
On Dec. 13, 1998, he was saved at Open Door Baptist Church, and has “not been the same since,” he said. “I take my Christianity seriously and always put God first.”
Now, White and wife Jean and daughters Brittany, 14, and Brianna, 9, are members of Chesterville Baptist Church, and it was that faith that got them through hard times when Brianna was born.
Jean developed a life-threatening condition while pregnant, flat-lined and had to be brought back. Brianna was born at 2 pounds, 8 ounces and had a stroke. She had a brain bleed and had to have surgery.
“We spent four months in Birmingham with Brianna,” White said. “Out of all the babies at the time in the unit, she was the only one to come home. I truly attributed that to God.”
White said even the doctors weren’t optimistic and told them the odds of her living were not high.
“The doctors just didn’t understand why she was still with us. I said I did. ‘God’s still got her. He’s still in control.’”
White recently took some control over life and the past 14 months has lost 142 pounds. He takes advantage of every moment with his family, whether it’s hunting with his daughters or jamming to Journey driving down the road.
“Family comes first,” he said.