BLADENBORO — A look under mechanic Scott Gordon’s fingernails will likely reveal the dirt and grease often associated with his chosen trade. For the Bladenboro repairman, however, it’s not all axle grease and engine oil — it’s getting up to his elbows in community work.
A Bladen County native, Gordon graduated from Bladenboro High School in 1997. After graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served 11 months before returning home because of family circumstances.
Though his military tenure was short, what Gordon learned there was life-changing. Gordon enrolled in a mechanics class and was recognized as its top student, skills he brought with him when he returned to Bladen County in 1998. He put in 18 years at a local tire shop, before deciding last year it was time for a change.
“I wanted to do more for the community,” Gordon explained. “I wanted to be able to give people a place they trust that they can take their cars no matter what’s wrong with them, without having to go to the dealer, or to Wilmington or Fayetteville.”
On Nov. 21, Bladen Offroad opened on N.C. 131 in Bladenboro. In the almost five months since the shop has been open, business has been booming.
“I spend a lot of time taking care of people, and most everybody that’s dealt with me knew I was going to take care of them,” commented Gordon. “Nobody wants to spend a lot of money on their car, and when they have to, they need to know you’re there for them. I think I’ve built a strong reputation for that, and it’s followed me here.”
On Wednesday, the waiting room was filled with customers, and each spot in the bays had a vehicle in it. The waiting room had Bladen Offroad T-shirts for sale, and a freezer offered — for a price — ice cream sandwiches, Nutter Butters, popsicles, and frozen candy bars. Gordon’s wife was manning the desk.
In the garage, four mechanics were busy doing tire rotations, replacing a cracked window cleaner tank, changing oil, and working on wiring.
“A lot of people think, because of the name, that we just do 4-wheeler stuff,” Gordon said. “But we work on cars — tire work, if your mirror is missing, oil changes, wiring or a taillight problem, any kind of mechanic work — there’s not much we don’t do.”
Despite all the services the shop offers, Gordon said if he has pride, it’s in something else — helping people, and he has been getting his hands dirty with community work. Bladen Offroad started a 501(c) foundation into which money from the business is put each month. Bladenboro Middle School, the Sheriff’s Office, and the J.T. Higgs family have all been recipients of Gordon’s kindness.
The mechanic isn’t stopping there. He has already begun conversations with school board members about conducting an education program. Gordon envisions interested high schoolers coming to the shop on Saturdays and learning mechanics.
“I was kind of a troubled child growing up,” he explained of his desire to help others. “One day something changed, and from there on out, I started trying to give back. I honestly feel like there’s not enough people in the world trying to take care of others.”
As a way of caring for people, Bladen Offroad has a standing 10 percent discount offered to senior citizens, police officers, fire personnel, EMS employees, and military veterans.
Fixing cars and fixing communities — that combination is definitely off road.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.