By Hilary Butschek
Continuing their father’s legacy, the three McCullough brothers — Eric, Rod and Brian — now run McCullough AutoCare in Sandy Springs.
Their business focuses broadly on car repair, offering services ranging from a standard oil change to emissions testing to more complicated auto repairs.
“We’ve been blessed with expert technicians, and we work on pretty much everything,” Eric said. “From headlight to taillight, we do it all.”
The family business began in 1969 with “$1,200 and a lot of ambition,” Eric said. At one time, the family owned five shops in the Atlanta area.
“[My father] and I partnered when I was 18,” Eric said. “We all grew up in the business, working weekends and summers. I actually decided not to go away to school to stay in the family business. I went to Georgia State.”
In 2003, Eric bought out his father’s company and trimmed the family business to a single location. Built in the 1960s, the McCullough repair shop at 5810 Roswell Road looks as if it belongs in the era of versatile car repair shops operated out of gas stations.
But the unused gas pumps now serve only as obstacles to the cars shuffling around the crowded parking lot.
The trio of brothers learned everything there was to know about cars by hanging around their father’s shops on weekends and during breaks from school. Eric said his father still serves as a mentor and source of advice in the business.
On any given work day, the three McCulloughs are seated at the helm of the garage. As customers walk in, they are greeted by name. The brothers chat back and forth, checking on customers and taking time to talk with each person, asking about their families and their lives.
“We take a personal interest,” Eric said. “We’re not a sales organization disguised as a repair shop. We know what’s going on in their lives just like they know what’s going on in ours.”
The brothers show good humor between each other with lighthearted jokes and teasing.
“Rod is the bad cop,” Eric said. “When we all play good cop, bad cop, Rod is the bad cop.”
“That’s right,” Rod said. “My favorite part of my job is abusing the employees.”
“Even his dogs are scared of him,” Eric added.
Working on cars together has been a constant in all three brothers’ lives. “I get to see my brothers 12 hours a day, and not many people get to do that,” Brian said.
The family at McCullough’s is bigger than blood would show. “We have great employees,” Rod said. “They’re really fun to work with, and most everyone is like our extended family.”
Among the brothers, Eric assumes command, giving orders to check up on a certain car or call up a customer. His brothers often seem a step ahead. The whole process is designed to keep in contact with customers to make sure they’re informed.
A customer of three years, Keri Randal, said she took a chance with the shop when she first moved into Sandy Springs and was pleased with the personable atmosphere.
“You know, it’s kind of iffy picking a mechanic, especially for a female,” she said. “But, they’re really good at explaining whatever the problem is. I do like that.”