For the past 45 years, Rhodes Auto Repair has been a staple to the Destin community. Ran by Luther Rhodes and then his son, Scott, Rhodes is known for honest and reliable service.
Now, they’ve passed the torch to a man who grew up working with the family.
Ben Causton started working at Rhodes in 1994 at the age of 16.
“I started as a shop helper sweeping floors,” Ben said. “Packing bearings on a boat trailer was the first thing I actually did and it went from there to changing oil and then eventually fixing cars. I told Luther, ‘I’m gonna buy this business one day.’”
When it came time for him to go to college in 1999, Luther was the one who convinced Ben to go.
“He kinda made me go,” Ben said. “He told me ‘You’ll always have a job here but you’re going to school.’ My parents wanted me to go obviously but … I was just working here and figured I’d take it over one day.”
Ben said it’s a good thing he went or else he wouldn’t have met his wife, Nicole.
During his school breaks and summers, Ben still worked at Rhodes part-time. After receiving a degree in Business Administration in 2003, he went to work for the corporate side of Napa Auto Parts. For the next 15 years, Ben and his family moved around parts of Tennessee and Texas before he and his wife decided to move back to Destin.
“We both got tired of the corporate dream and so we said ‘let’s go home.’” Ben said.
But even while the Caustons were away, they still kept in touch with Luther and his family.
“We’ve always been really close,” said Ben’s wife, Nicole. “If they were in our neck of the woods, they would stop by and we would have dinner. If Ben had anything he needed to talk through, he talked to Luther.”
After moving back to Destin, Ben worked at the Porsche dealership in Destin until he received the call from Luther that he’d been waiting for his whole life.
“He called me one day and asked me if I still wanted to buy the business and I couldn’t say no,” Ben said.
After negotiating for a few months, the Caustons finally took over in October.
“It really means a lot that they thought of us when they were ready to sell,” Nicole said. “Our daughters are 9 and 7 and they’ve already said they want to take it over one day. It’s just really special that we have this opportunity.”
Luther and his wife Donna still show up from time to time to see how things are going and Scott is still working there as a part of the team.
“(Luther's) still on our call rotation,” Ben said. “I had to pay him the other day and it was kinda weird. I remember coming here to borrow things and now he’s the one coming and borrowing stuff from me.
"Here's to 45 more years," he added.