(NEW CASTLE) – What R.A. Riley started nearly 60 years ago in his two-car garage is expanding – again.
Tim Riley and Dave Driggers have announced Riley and Son’s Collision and Mechanical Specialists, based in Anderson, recently purchased Smiley’s Body Shop in New Castle, which has been in business since 1931.
Driggers described the acquisition was “from one proud collision family to another.”
“The value we see in New Castle is that it mirrors what we have in Anderson,” Driggers said. “The name Smiley is as well known in New Castle as Riley is here. Their longevity in the business is impressive. Their staff has lots of tenure and experience, like ours does here. I think we are mirror images of each other.”
Together, the two companies have more than 130 years of experience in the body shop business.
The acquisition will add a fourth location to Riley and Son’s. In addition to its Anderson body shop, the company also has a stand-alone mechanical facility in Anderson and a body shop in Pendleton.
Jeff Smiley, said deciding to sell the 84-year-old New Castle business his dad started in a barn on the family farm was made easier by the reputation Riley and Son’s has earned over the years.
“I’m extremely grateful that we were fortunate enough to have them as a buyer. There were other buyers out there,” Smiley said. “I could have gone other directions. But I knew if it wasn’t a family member, it was more than likely going to be them.”
Riley and Smiley have known each other for 25 years. They met each other through membership in an elite group known as Acoat Selected, and have helped each other stay on the cutting edge of changes in the industry.
“We became travel partners,” Jeff Smiley said. “We have traveled across the United States and to some other countries networking with other shop owners to work on industry issues.”
“You’d have a problem here and not be able to figure it out, but someone you’d see at these meetings had figured it out,” Driggers said. “Being involved with Acoat Selective has been extremely valuable.”
Roots of each company have deep similarities.
Gerald Emerson Smiley began working out of a barn on his father-in-law’s farm. R.A. Riley started his business in just a two-car garage. Both men were clever and resourceful. Both businesses were family-oriented from day one.
Both also valued the people who work for them. Like Smiley’s, Riley’s have employees with 20 and 30 years of experience.
“That is truly the only way to deliver a consistent product for the customer,” Driggers said.
Tim Riley bought the business from his dad in 1994. Then in 2003, Driggers who has a master degree in business management became a partner in the business.
“We’ve been working together for more than 31 years now,” Driggers said. “We’re like brothers.”
In fact, in their younger days, Riley and Driggers built cars together, experiences that have helped them grow Riley and Son’s into the success story it is today. It is not uncommon for second and even third generations of family members come to Riley and Son’s for automotive body repair needs.
Driggers smiled when he reflected about the proximity of both Anderson and New Castle founders to his daily business activities.
“I have the original founder in Anderson living right on the property and in New Castle, I will have the original founder living just across the street,” Driggers said. “So, needless to say, I have big shadows.”