At the intersection of Outer Drive and Burt Road, a small stretch of land sports church pews and large, metal flowers with a banner urging, “Pray Here! Watch what God will do.”
More inspiring and decorative than surroundings of the average repair shop, the display marks the location of a Brightmoor-area garage that prides itself on community involvement.
S&S Auto, located at 11010 W. Outer Drive, is co-owned and operated by brothers Derrick and Frederick Williams. S&S Auto opened four years ago, but the business’ roots date back nearly a generation. The trade seems to run in the Williams family.
The brothers say working with cars was just a part of their upbringing.
“My father did it for years,” says Derrick who grew up with his family on Six Mile Road and Kentfield. “I just took after him… Every job I ever had was mechanic work and I just decided this is what I need to do and just pursued it.”
The shop is a stand-out among Detroit’s 62,000 businesses and the “been-ups,” frequently called out by Mayor Mike Duggan and his administration, who are trying to elevate the success rate of start-ups.
Frederick says he experienced the same exposure growing up around his family. Even though working on cars didn’t interest him like it interested his relatives, Frederick says “they gave me a part in it.”
The repair shop used to be an old gas station. Eventually, Derrick’s and Frederick’s uncle, Keith, bought the location and made it a tire repair and oil change service, TJ’s New & Used Tires. He ran the business for 18 years before the nephews took over, turning it into a full-service mechanic stop.Today S&S is the only full-service garage in the area from Plymouth and Burt Roads all the way to Grand River Avenue, Derrick says.
S&S is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Service is available on new, used, domestic and foreign cars, including fixing transmissions, rebuilding motors and other repairs. S&S also serves the community by repairing children’s bicycles and supporting its residents.
“The kids right over here, we help with their bikes and we make sure their bikes are fixed,” says Frederick, “and we keep the neighborhood clean – don’t let anybody tear the neighborhood up. We just try to keep the community right.”
The Williams brothers’ community involvement brought the business together with local churches. Derrick and Frederick built the prayer station directly across from its building with the church next door to S&S, Baber African Methodist Episcopal. Another church further north, Mount Vernon Missionary Baptist, gives S&S a lot of business and has helped clean up the area.
“This business means a lot,” Frederick says. “It helps me provide for my kids, myself and my brother, Derrick.”
Editor’s Note: S&S Auto is located at 11010 W. Outer Drive Detroit, MI 48223.
This Small Shops series is sponsored by Bank of America.
To learn more about Bank of America’s many programs and resources for small business owners visit: https://www.bankofamerica.com/smallbusiness/business-financing.go