Smith said his cousins have family in the Fort Smith area and when he helped them moved out here he happened to find a place next door to them. They never moved into that property, instead, made a home in the Central area where he and his wife still live.
“I brought the kids out here to try and get a change of life. When we came out here we had six kids, Brianna, the youngest, was born out here,” he said, adding that all of his children attended Central Schools.
Smith said he has worked in auto body since the age of 12 and self-employed his whole life.
“My father, he was a mechanic when I was born and I just kind of followed in his footsteps and got into the body work part of it,” he said. “My brothers, and all my family, are in motorcycles. So I started building motorcycles when I was young and been doing that my whole life.”
Smith worked from home in the Central area when he first moved from California, working primarily on Harley's and hotrods before he decided to open shop in Sallisaw about 11 years ago.
“When the kids got older they wanted to work, and I had all the equipment for a body shop so I opened one here in town,” he said. “Sallisaw's been good to us. We were able to come out here and start our business and do what ever we wanted to do.”
Smith's business slowly expanded to incorporate full auto body work and a mechanic shop, working on both motorcycles and cars. They added a mechanic shop to their business after buying the shop next door.
“I do more of the motorcycles myself, because I know more about it. My boys and my employees do the body work part of it and I step in when I have to,” he added.
Four of Smith's sons work for him, as well as his daughter and wife, who do part-time secretarial work.
Two of his sons attended Carl Albert to study mechanics, and another one of his sons, Lyall, recently returned home from the military with his wife Amy. After attending school for motorcycle mechanics Lyall started helping Smith with the motorcycle aspect of his business.Aside from motorcycles and cars, Smith was quite a fitness buff in his earlier years.
“I've always worked out, did martial arts and lifted weights. For many years I went to the gym and weight-lifted. (I) trained with a lot of the kids and people around here,” he said, adding that about 10 years ago he held a couple of Oklahoma State bench pressing records before he injured himself.
As for the future, Smith said he had considered buying Bill Brown's shop after it closed and expanding his shop, but decided after adding tires to their automative section, along with the three buildings he already has, it was enough.
“All I think about now is loading up my motorcycle and motor home, going on vacation and leaving the kids here,” he joked. “We like to go to the bike rallies, Daytona and Sturgis (S.D.), places like that.”
Smith added that he is training his children to cover different areas of the business so he and his wife can get out and travel more.
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