Special to Auburn Journal
For just about 50 years now, Monroe Transmission has been owned and operated by the Monroe family.
It all started when Bud Monroe began working for an auto dealership in the Bay Area. His interest in auto was piqued and in 1966 Monroe Transmission opened their first store in Antioch, Calif. Since then, they have opened up two other locations. One in Yuba City and the other in Newcastle. The Newcastle location was up and running in 1976 and Yuba City in 2000. Founder Bud and his wife Linda retired in 1997 passing down the responsibilities to their sons, Don and Dwayne.
Don and Dwayne have been a helping hand in the business since they were a young age. The Newcastle office has a picture of the boys getting caught with their hands in the tool box.
It was a natural progression for them to remain in the business.
Don is the eldest of the four children and began working at the shop around the age of 10. He mostly just picked up the rags around the shop when he started.
“We got paid with root beer floats for picking up rags,” Don said.
“It was great babysitting,” his mother Linda stated.
“It got us out of the house and out of the way,” Don said.
Even as kids, Bud would bring home bits and pieces of parts for the boys to play with.
“Kind of like a jigsaw puzzle,“ Linda said.
Don began working at the shop part time when he was 13. Washing a transmission would earn him up to $5 and pulling out a transmission would earn him another $5.
“I could go home with up to $10 in my pocket,” Don said.
“That was too much,” quickly retorted Bud with a chuckle.
He earned more in a day at the shop than working his paper route for the Antioch Ledger, and after high school, Don and Dwayne started working full time. It was imminent that Bud's sons follow in his footsteps. Don now operates the Yuba City location while Dwayne operates the Newcastle shop.
Three generations of Monroes have in one way or another been involved in the family business. Even from a young age the grandchildren would put a rag in their back pocket in order to look just like grandpa.
“David did that the longest,” Linda said about their grandchild.
Dwayne and his wife Barbara have a son, David, who has also caught the car bug. David works at a custom car shop in Grass Valley.
All of the grandchildren have at one point or another worked in the field of auto. It is a career that stuck in the family.
“All have gone on with the trade,” Don said.
Monroe Transmission truly embodies what a family business should look like. Not only has it been kept in the family for generations, but even extended family has come to help when needed. Not to mention, most of the employees have stayed with the company for anywhere up to 30 years, therefore the Monroes have made them honorary members of the family.
“They just kind of melded together,” Linda said.
The Monroe family has become a long-lasting family business, as well as a friend to the community. They involve themselves in a number of community events. They annually attend trade shows, sponsor cruise nights and riders during Fast Fridays, as well as support the local little league. Bud is still known around the Auburn area for his “fast pitch” and in 2015 they were acknowledged with the Auburn Journal's Best of the Best award.
“Auburn has been good to us,” said Don's wife Polly.
At the rate Monroe Transmission is going, it looks like it will be a family business for many generations to come.