Severna Park native Mike McNealey, who was one of three partners who owned and operated Severna Park Automotive for the past 20 years, became sole proprietor of the shop this past October after his two former partners, Lonny Wiezorek and Andrew Wollentin, both retired from the business.
“Our lease was coming due and had to be renegotiated, so we thought it was a good breaking point to buy them out,” said McNealey. “It was good timing. Everything was coordinated together.”
McNealey developed an interest in automotive mechanics at a young age. He was raised in Severna Park and attended Severna Park elementary, middle and high schools. But during high school, he had an opportunity to take classes at the Center for Applied Technology at South River High School. High school students can attend CAT as a part of their regular daily schedule and earn credits required for graduation. McNealey graduated specializing in automotive technology and spoke highly of the program.
“The vocational program worked very well for me,” attested McNealey. “There’s a shortage of mechanics today, and I encourage kids to consider vocational training.”
Immediately after graduating high school in 1979, McNealey started working at a Shell gas station that occupied the current location of Severna Park Automotive, putting his newly attained vocational skills to work, where he started working with fellow employees Wiezorek and Wollentin. When the owner of the Shell station decided to retire in 1998, the trio bought the business, removed the gas tanks and pumps to focus solely on auto repair and maintenance, and renamed the establishment Severna Park Automotive.
When McNealey bought out his partners, not much changed, and all of the company’s employees stayed. “I was very fortunate to maintain the same crew, some of whom have been here for 30 to 35 years,” he said.
McNealey values strong community ties and is expanding his neighborhood outreach efforts. “We’re giving back to the community and helping the people who support Severna Park,” he said.
Severna Park Automotive has developed a loyal customer following over the years. It has been named No. 1 auto repair facility for nine consecutive years from Severna Park Voice’s Best Of contest.
“We’ve served multiple generations of families,” lauded McNealey. “The neat part is that we’re in such a relationship business. I started out my career working on the grandparent’s car; now I’m working on the grandkid’s car.”