Luther and Donna Rhodes have 40 reasons to celebrate today. Standing the test of time, their auto repair shop celebrates its 40th year in business today.
Opened on March 13, 1973, Rhodes Auto Repair has become one of the oldest businesses in Destin — and it’s been family owned and operated ever since.
Located at 327 Mountain Drive, Rhodes Auto Repair has outlasted nearly everything — and everyone — from trends like bell-bottoms and disco to the election of eight United States presidents and countless tropical storms and hurricanes.
When asked about the secret to their success, and how they’ve managed to stay above water when so many others haven't, Luther told The Log that he and Donna have always kept their business and personal relationships separate.
"What happens at the shop stays at the shop," said Luther. "And what happens at home stays at home."
Being married and working together, according to Luther, can complicate things, "so leave it all at the door."
A separation of duties is critical in running a successful business as well, according to Donna.
"There can only be one chief, but multiple Indians," said Donna.
Rhodes Auto Repair is one of the few companies in Destin that offers towing 24 hours a day. They also do almost all types of automotive work, other than body work.
The Rhodes are true Destin locals. While leafing through early copies of The Destin Log, Donna found advertisements for their shop — including Volume 1, Issue 1 in January 1974. "That's neat to see, it's our history," said Donna.
Luther said he also tried his hand at journalism with The Log years ago. "Way back when," said Luther, "I wrote a monthly automotive column for The Log."
Although Rhodes Auto Repair opened before Destin became a city in 1984, the couple said Destin still feels the same as it always has to them. "It's still our home," said Donna.
"There's a lot to love about Destin," added Luther.
The business landscape has also shifted along with the city skyline.
"The automotive business has changed a lot throughout the years — it's changed more than once and I'm sure it will change again," Luther said.
Celebrating its nearly half a century in Destin, Rhodes Auto Repair is hosting a party on Friday, March 15. As a thank you for the community's support and loyalty, everyone is invited to celebrate with free food and fun.
"Come hungry," said Luther, because there will be plenty of barbecue.
Rhodes Auto Repair is located at 327 Mountain Drive, behind First City Bank on Highway 98. They can be reached at 654-4455.
"I enjoy what I'm doing," Luther said. "It doesn't feel like work when you're happy and you enjoy what you're doing."