Vehicles change, but K & W Transmissions stays the same after more than 50 years in business.
The business started in 1958 with partners Donny King and Bob Wandell, as a locally owned and operated transmission shop.
Now 53 years later, partners Dave Bassler and Dennis Lannan still locally own and operate the Christian owned and operated business, with worker Denny Laird. Bassler bought the building in 2001, but started working there in 1986.
Dave Bassler says the business he co-owns, K & W Transmissions, has reached the half-century mark by making “the customer happy.” The Newberry shop dates back to 1958, and owners Bassler and Dennis Lannan say it works on anything that drives on wheels.
The business has recently been short on help because Lannan has been battling cancer. Bassler takes every day one at a time.
Bassler attributes their success to the excellent talent of the workers and making sure the customer is always first.
"We improved something if it wasn't right," Bassler said. "We worked on it till it was. We made the customer happy."
K & W Transmissions work on anything that drives the wheels, which means anything from behind the engine.
Most people only return when something is wrong, but occasionally, customers return to thank him for the work done.
"I had a customer come back and say, 'You did an excellent job,'" Bassler said. "'I just came to tell you that. My truck never ran better.' People appreciate (our work)."
Bassler considers himself lucky because he enjoys the work he does.
"Mechanical things intrigued me," he said. "If you find something you love to and can make money off it, you're blessed. Grease under my nails? I love it."
Cars improve annually, but sometimes not always for the best. Since Bassler started, cars have become much more electronic. Working on the cars turned from a hydraulic battle to an electronic battle.
Even the problems have changed. Before they received primarily transmission problems, but now they receive problems such as a mouse eating a wire or a shoved wire. When the transmission acts up and does not shift, now it is just an electronic problem. The changes mean that Bassler and the other employees must continually update their knowledge on ever-changing vehicles. Since they work on both domestic and foreign cars, that means constantly learning a lot about a lot of vehicles.
"I need to know more than a surgeon," Bassler said. "Human beings haven't changed in a million years since creation. Cars change every year."
Vehicles now last longer than they did in the '70s. Now transmissions can last 100,000 miles. In the '70s, it was only 12,000 miles. But when something went wrong then, it cost a couple hundred dollars to fix, and now it could be a couple of thousand dollars.
If a check engine light appears on the dashboard, it might be time to take the car into the shop. People sometimes drive around for six months with the light on. At first, the sensor could have been replaced, but the entire transmission might need to be fixed in six months.
Car manufacturers tell car buyers that coolant, spark plugs and transmission fluid can be replaced every 100,000 miles, but the fluid should be changed every 30,000 miles. Bassler said that manufacturers just want to sell more vehicles, so people wait to get their cars looked at, which causes more problems that need to be fixed.
Other transmission shops, Bassler said, use cheap transmission fluid to keep costs low, but Bassler uses better quality.
"I refuse to compromise," Bassler said. "I want you to be happy."
Some change is in the future though. Bassler wants to build a new, bigger building. It won't happen for another two years, but he expects it will generate more business. As of now, the shop does about three to five overhauls a week and two to three computer checks a day.
"We want to serve the community better," he said.