Owner credits community involvement

Dave Repass is a jolly guy, and he has every reason to be.

The 52-year-old is the owner of the Lewes Meineke Car Care Center, which was recently named the top franchise in the nation for the sixth year in a row.

Repass and his family have lived in Lewes for 13 years, after moving from Montgomery County, Md., where he grew up. His parents, who live in Lewes now, had a vacation home in Bethany Beach in his childhood.

“One weekend we were headed to Bethany and ended up going in a different direction because of traffic and stumbled upon downtown Lewes. We fell in love,” Repass said.

He quit his job as a sales representative and he and his wife of 25 years, Jody, and their three children moved to the beach. With the help of his parents, Lee and Donna Repass, he opened the Meineke.

It was Repass’ father, who worked in aeronautical engineering, who taught him automotive skills.

“My dad was a hot rod hobbyist his whole life, and I guess I followed in his footsteps,” Repass said. “He kept me and my brother off the streets by keeping us in the garage. We were always trying to modify cars and make them go faster.”

When looking into a car care franchise, Repass explored all the options, but chose Meineke because of their ongoing support and training.

“It was the best fit for me,” he said. “I had never been the boss of anybody or run a business or anything like that, so at the time I felt I needed the support. So far it’s turned out fantastic.”

The Lewes Meineke opened in July 2011. Business boomed, thanks to a perfect storm of population growth, location and demand. Repass said his relationship with the community got him off to a good start.

“All our friends in the community, from Pop Warner football to the Cape Henlopen Soccer Club, right off the bat they supported us incredibly,” he said.

He also credits good business practices.

“We’re never going to try and sell anybody anything they don’t need,” he said. “I don’t want to walk through the grocery store and have somebody come up to me with that. It’s never going to happen. The industry as a whole has a horrible reputation for sticking it to the customer, and I never want anyone to feel like that’s happened to them here.”

The Lewes Meineke opened with eight employees and six car lifts. Now, it boasts 18 employees and 14 lifts.

Community involvement

Last year, Repass and the Lewes Meineke donated more than $140,000 to the community, to organizations like Autism Delaware, the Lightship Overfalls, the Harry Kay Foundation, Meals on Wheels and Pathways to Success. On Veteran’s Day, he offers free oil changes to veterans.

“We want to help everybody,” he said. “Whether it’s a gift card they can raffle off or just a check, we want to help everywhere we can.”

It’s more than just handing out money, though. Repass and his wife are out in the community virtually every night of the week.

“It’s getting to know the kids and the parents, going to practices and rooting on the little Johnnys and Billys,” he said. “It’s going to Pathways for Success and making sure those kids know how to tie a tie, delivering for Meals on Wheels.”

Repass also volunteers for the United Services Organization at Dover Air Force Base, where he is on the council of USO Delaware and has been named an Honorary Commander of the 512th Airlift Wing.

“It was just another check the first time I heard about the USO, but I started asking questions and now it’s absolutely changed my life,” he said.

As a councilmember, Repass assists in supporting the families of fallen soldiers who come to the Dover AFB to retrieve their loved ones’ remains. As an honorary commander, he works to bring awareness to the program.

“We just had four [deceased] Marines come in,” he said. “And they had children. It was cold day so you have to make sure they have coats on the flight line. If there’s an infant you make sure there are diapers. If there’s a 12-year-old you make sure he has video games so things are as normal as possible before he has to face the worst day of his life.”

Repass had three best friends growing up. All went into the military, and he has been trying to give back ever since.

“I try to bring money in to the USO, and when fallen officers come in I’m out on the flight line,” he said. “It has been a wonderful learning experience for me. [This] week I’m going to get to fly on a C17 to Kansas and do some maneuvers. What knucklehead that runs a Meineke gets to do that?”

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

Recently, Repass was nominated for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s inaugural Southern Delaware Man of the Year competition. At the end of the 10-week campaign, May 11, the man and woman who have raised the most money are named Man and Woman of the Year.

“My grandmother died of lymphoma and my uncle just got a bone marrow transplant because he has leukemia. Everybody knows somebody who’s touched by it,” Repass said. “So I’m going to do what I can to win.”

Through May 11, the Lewes Meineke will donate $2 from every full-service oil change to the LLS. If you’d like to donate directly, visit http://www.mwoy.org/south-de.

Continued success

With so much success comes a question: What lies ahead?

“There may be big news in the near future regarding more Meinekes in the area,” he hinted.

Keep up to date on Lewes Meineke at https://www.facebook.com/mymeineke/.