NAPLES — In these days, when often bigger means better and products are sized large, extra large and grande, there is one that proudly emphasizes its smallness. And that is the Mini Cooper automobile that we see more and more of on our local roads.
Two proud owners of the Mini Cooper are Alan and Ruth Williams who bought their first Cooper in 2003.
“We really enjoyed driving the car, but at the time we had no thought of going into the Mini repair service,” Alan explained.
However, as they saw more and Coopers in the Naples area, they realized that there was a need for such a facility. What better way to combine business with pleasure than to open a repair shop for the car they had grown to love, as well as to drive and own.
“Like any other automobile, the Mini Cooper requires maintenance," said Alan Williams. "And now there is a repair shop in Naples dedicated to helping the increasing number of local Cooper owners maintain their vehicles.”
While new to this specialty, they are anything but ingénues to the automobile repair business. Both Williams are from Michigan, where they owned an auto repair shop in Detroit that had originally belonged to Alan’s parents.
After Alan Williams completed high school in 1980, he bought the business from his parents. He and Ruth continued to operate it until they moved to Naples in 1998 to enter the commercial real estate market. Still involved in that business, they own the Walden Oaks commercial buildings.
“We were looking for something else to do,“ said Ruth Williams.
So, they decided to fill the void that they had observed regarding a repair shop dedicated to servicing the Mini Cooper.
MinTech opened its doors July 1 at 5567 Taylor Road, in the industrial park area off of Airport-Pulling Road, enabling the more than 600 Mini Cooper owners in the area to receive service locally rather than traveling to Fort Myers to the closest dealership, or using a repair shop that does not specialize in the unique car.
A check of the local yellow pages shows no shops listing the Cooper as one of the vehicles they repair, although a call to three of those that repair European cars indicate their ability to work on them.
The automobile, first introduced in the United Kingdom in 1956, actually is manufactured by BMW and assembled in Oxford, England.
In addition to the Williams, a third member of the team at MinTech is Keith Nickols, the technician. Nickols had previously worked at BMW in Fort Myers, where he still lives. Because of the BMW connection, Nickols is quite familiar with the “mechanics” of the Cooper and its entire computer system. He and Alan Williams handle the repair work.
Ruth Williams, who is an architect by education and profession and who is still associated with a local architectural firm, is a natural greeter with a wide grin and a good sense of humor.
“The three of us have formed a team to use the best of our individual talents to the fullest,” she said.
In her role as the “public relations guru” of MinTech, Ruth has planned several events for the Pirate Coast Coopers, a club of Mini Cooper owners in the Naples-Fort Myers area.
As one of the club’s flyers states in announcing an October open house at the MinTech facility, “this event will be a meet and greet between members and new members and especially for all members to meet Alan and Ruth Williams, the owners of MinTech.”
If owning a Mini Cooper qualifies you to be a part of a growing fad, being the proprietors of the only facility that dedicates its services to maintaining that fad is a special opportunity.
Alan and Ruth Williams and their MinTech business have the potential and market to become a big business in Naples despite the mini size of the cars they repair.