When Bert Knight decided he wanted to sell auto parts to the citizens of Logan County, he was met with a little resistance from those who felt there wasn’t room for another auto parts store in Russellville. Well anyone who knows Bert- and for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure- that goes against the very grain of a man who sees that there is nothing that is to difficult, nothing that you can’t do, as long as you have God and put your mind to it.
On Saturday, June 7, there will be a celebration at Bert’s Auto Parts located at 100 Hopkinsville Street to honor 50 years of what some said in the beginning, would never fly. That’s right, 50 years of serving Logan County with a smile and a dedication to assuring everyone is taken care of when they come through the door of his business.
It all began in 1964, when Bert got back from overseas serving in the United States Army. He leased the old skating rink that was once right next to his current store, it has since been torn down. Bert was planning on building a store right off the bat, however, the banks in Russellville wouldn’t give the fresh out of the Army soldier the time of day.
To give you a glimpse into the type of man Bert is, he didn’t allow the lack of support for a young man who served his country stop him from making his dream a reality. He kept dreaming that one day, someone would give him a chance to prove what he could do, and once again Bert’s determination paid off and became reality.
“I contacted the fellow who owned the skating rink and asked if I could lease it,” said Bert, who was determined to open his business despite the obstacles that kept blocking his way. Bert became friends with a parts man in Tennessee who did have faith in him and helped him stock his first store, which quickly proved to be a great investment for both.
After Bert’s store got up and running a funny thing happened, the local banks started asking what they could do for him.
Bert’s Auto Parts quickly became one of Logan County’s most popular places to go when you needed something mechanical. It didn’t take long before people in the community knew that if they needed something, rather it be for a car, a lawn mower or even a washing machine, they knew Bert had it, or would do everything he could to get it.
It is common, still is today, to see Bert scrambling about, running up and down the isles of his store to make sure the customer is- as he puts it- “taken care of.” Bert’s arms have consistently been marked up over the years from ink where he used them as a tablet to write upon what it was that people needed. The door of Bert’s Auto is always swinging open with him flying through it onto his next delivery. Even today, as Bert gets older, he is still as vibrant as the day he began.
Bert starts his day out behind the counter of his store, doing push-ups to stay in shape. For a man well into his 70s, Bert is as healthy as a horse. Maybe that’s because he never sits down long enough to allow age to catch up to him.
What has been the most enjoyable aspect of his years behind the counter? Well that was a simple answer for Bert, it’s the people that have made it all worth while to him.
“I really love people,” said Bert. “They are the reason my store has been so successful, and one of the main reasons I do what I do.”
It hasn’t always been easy for Bert, first fighting all odds to get his business opened and then suffering a fire that nearly destroyed everything he had built up in that business in the early 1980’s. But being the man he is, Bert bounced back in a bigger way and decided to turn a tragedy into a opportunity building a bigger store right next door to where the old one burned.
“It was hard, but we got through it,” said Bert.
Perhaps Bert became as determined as he is from heading off to fight a war at such an early age. In 1956, after enlisting in the United States Army, Bert found himself in Germany where he spent 18 months. The time he spent in the Army helped sculpt his life and taught him never to give up.
Bert and his wife Faye have three daughters, Lisa Green of Tennessee, Fadocia Angel of Schochoch and Donna Huddleston of Logan County. They have nine grandchildren and two great-grandsons.
“I couldn’t have done what I did without the support of my family,” said Bert. “I had to spend a lot of time away from home and they were always very supportive of me and the business. Bert’s daughters spent a good deal of time when they were young in the store, which allowed the family to spend more time with one another. According to his daughter Lisa, she was stocking the shelves when she was in the fourth grade.
“I loved working here with my dad. Watching him with the customers made me see they type of man he is, caring and considerate. It helped mold me into who I am today,” said Lisa.
What’s next for Bert, well the same thing he has been doing for the past 50 years of course, making sure the community is “taken care of.”
“I’m looking forward to the next 50 years,” laughed Bert.
The community is invited to help Bert and Faye celebrate 50 years in business. Everyone is invited to share this special moment on Saturday, June 7 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at Bert’s Auto Parts located at 100 Hopkinsville Street in Russellville. There will be light refreshments and an open cruise-in to show off your antique or special automobile.