Meet your Merchant: The father-son duo at Monte’s Auto has built a reputation for their expertise and integrity
10933 Ironclad Rd., Rough and Ready
Facebook: Monte’s Auto
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday
Drive south past the Rough and Ready Grange, then make a left on Ironclad Road and keeping driving ‘til the road isn’t paved anymore.
Just as you’re about to give up and turn around, you’ll see the sign for Monte’s Auto. Inside his spacious garage situated on a stunning 20-acre family compound, Monte Pearson was warming his hands by the pellet stove Friday morning to ward off the biting cold. Cars of all ages, makes and models were parked outside, presumably awaiting a diagnosis and repair.
A Toyota Tacoma sat in the farthest bay with its hood open and Monte’s son, Archie, peering inside. Beulah, an aging basset hound and the shop’s “official greeter,” moved slowly around the grounds, donning a plaid coat.
Just outside, a pair of longhorn steers grazed lazily in an adjacent field, long ago deemed friends and not food.
“We can’t eat ‘em — they’re our pets,” said Monte. “They’re too majestic.”
Back in the seventies, Monte played high school football in San Leandro and worked on his ‘62 International Harvester Scout in the driveway after school. He found a certain reward in the problem-solving aspect of auto repair, and he was good at it.
His talents might have been in his DNA, as his father was an aircraft mechanic for the U.S. Navy. When Monte joined the Marine Corps at the age of 17, he and his buddies got hooked on fixing up hot rods and drag racing in their free time.
Fresh out of the Marines at 21, Monte landed a job working at an aerospace manufacturing plant, working for the defense industry. But when the Berlin Wall fell, the bottom dropped out of the defense industry market, leaving Monte without a job. That’s when his career in auto repair began in earnest.
He moved to Colorado for seven years, where he worked at a variety of auto shops, then to Nevada County in 1999, where his father owned property. After spending more than a decade of working for four separate shops, he was ready to branch out on his own. In 2012, he opened Monte’s Auto in Rough and Ready, and was joined by his son, Archie, now 32.
“I’ve learned everything I know from my dad,” said Archie, with a laugh and a teasing glance at his dad. “I learned not to make him too mad.”
But longtime customers aren’t fooled by the casual banter and informal atmosphere — they know the father-son duo is serious about the job. They’re able to work on every kind of car — both domestic and foreign— and continue to stay abreast of the newest technology, training and certification.
They pride themselves on their integrity and never talk down to customers who don’t know much about cars, or are challenged by a tight budget. By far, their best advertising has been word of mouth.
While Archie and his wife are busy with five children and caring for Monte’s 94-year-old father, Monte’s latest hobby is music. Just three years ago he learned to play drums, and now performs with his band, “Porkchop,” at a variety of local venues. On Friday it was the Dew Drop Inn.
“Come on down,” he said. “We’re all one big family. Honestly? So many of my customers have become friends.”
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at Cory@theunion.com.
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