By Gerhard Schneibel
The hundreds of motorists who pass “Fast Eddie” Mobley’s Mount Vernon Highway shop every day may wonder why police cars are always there.
Eddie’s not in trouble. He’s just doing what he has done for decades: keeping the police on the road.
“Fast Eddie” got his nickname when he operated a towing service out of the former Union 76 gas station he owned from 1971 to 1993 at the corner of Roswell Road and Hammond Drive.
“We were pulling cars for the police department, and we’d get a call and beat the police officers [to the scene]. We had scanners in the trucks,” he said. Press him on it, though, and he’ll admit the name “Fast Eddie” might have had something to do with his lifestyle.
“I work hard, and I played hard,” he said. “I’m 60 years old now, so I slowed down. But I enjoy working. I work 12, 14 hours a day, five days a week.” He has four grandchildren, and “on the weekends I do things with them. They all live in my neighborhood.”
Today, Eddie, who lives in Kennesaw with his wife, Nancy, has two daughters and owns Eddie’s Automotive at 260 Mount Vernon Hwy. His garage services Sandy Springs’ police fleet.
Born Charles Edward Mobley in 1948 in LaGrange, Eddie moved to West End with his parents in 1954. He bought the Union 76 station shortly after serving two years in Vietnam and sold it in 1993 to buy his current garage.
He said of working on cars: “It’s the only thing I’ve ever done. I worked in a garage from the time I was 16 to when I was 19, and then I went into the Marine Corps. I got back in ’70 and bought my own service station. I enjoy it. When it’s your own business, you put all you’ve got into it. I got a lot of good customers, and they’re happy customers.”
Eddie employs five people, and each has worked for him at least five years. One employee, Mike Monetta, started working at the Union 76 station as a summer job after finishing high school more than 25 years ago.
“He just treats you good, and we’re kind of like family now. It’s kind of like working with your dad,” Monetta said. “I left for a couple of years, went to a dealership. I didn’t like it. You get more hands-on with people here. It’s kind of like a neighborhood.”
Before Sandy Springs was incorporated in 2005, Eddie had a contract to service Fulton County’s police vehicles. At times the county owed him between $75,000 and $85,000 and was more than 120 days behind in payments, he said.
“Well, you know, they’re government. I knew I’d get it one day,” he said. “Sandy Springs pays on time. As a matter of fact, they call me and say, ‘We need the bill so we can hurry up and pay you.’
“It’s different working with the city than it was with the county, because it’s a smaller police department.” He said many of the police officers came from the county, “so I knew a lot of them. It helped out that way.”
Those government contracts may have helped him survive as a throwback to times when independent businesses thrived. But Eddie attributes much of his success to something maybe even more old-fashioned.
“Well, being honest. I’m serious. I try to make a good living out of it, but I don’t have to lie to people. There’s enough business out there. You don’t have to lie to them about the prices of parts or stuff like that,” he said. “It’s just the way I was raised, I guess. That’s the way my parents were. At least I can sleep at night, that’s true.”
One thing that could threaten Eddie’s Automotive is the possible widening of Mount Vernon Highway, which would consume most of the garage’s parking lot. But that’s a problem Eddie said he’d deal with should the time come. Otherwise, he plans to work another eight to 10 years.
“My daddy worked until he was 82. I enjoy working. I like the kind of work that I do; I think I’m good at it. I enjoy my customers. It would be hard to work for somebody else after all these years.”