Ronnie Kizer: A love of cars leads to the opening of Zippy Lube — a true family business

in Profile by

By Lanier Laney

Ronnie Kizer had no idea that his decision to buy a cool car in the summer of 1968 would eventually lead to a wife, three children and eight grandchildren.

When Ronnie remembers that eventful summer, he said, “Back in the day in Beaufort, my brothers and friends drove ‘muscle’ cars, you had to have one to cruise through the Shack Drive In and Piggy Park on

Ronnie Kizer is seen in front of one of the three Zippy Lube oil change centers around Beaufort.

Friday and Saturday nights. The Camaros and Mustangs had become real popular so when Barbara Quick, a friend of a friend who’d recently moved back to Beaufort, decided to sell her red ‘67 Camaro, I jumped at the opportunity. Her only stipulation was that I take her daughter, Donna, for a ride in it when she moved here from California. I figured, how bad could she be?  So, I agreed. When Donna arrived,  and I saw her, I thought, I got a double good deal from Barbara: A new Camaro and a hot chick from California, too!”

He was smitten with Donna and they dated for several years. Ronnie says with a smile, “I think it took her a while to get used to a country boy, but she finally gave in.” He and Donna were married in 1971 and are still happily married 41 years later.

Together they have three children: Keith, who just turned the big 40, and his wife Paula have five kids — Justin, Jarrett, Mary Beth, Madison, David — and one on the way; Corey is 36; and  Kelli, 33, has three kids — Kaitlyn, Kaydence and Kole.

Cars have always figured prominently in Ronnie’s life: “I’ve always loved fast cars and Nascar racing,” he admits. So it’s not surprising when his brother Larry’s employer, Blue Channel Corporation, closed its doors, that the two brothers came up with the idea to open their own car repair and service business — Zippy Lube.

Ronnie said, “We came up with the idea of a quick lube shop because at that time cars were getting harder to work on and people were less inclined to change their own oil. Dealerships were in the habit of taking hours to an entire day just to do an oil change. We partnered with Quaker State and opened with the philosophy that we should be as friendly and helpful as possible while still charging a fair price, which remains our philosophy today.  We pride ourselves on being fair, honest and keeping an eye on our customers’ cars.”

He describes their services: “Our signature 14 point service includes new oil, a new oil filter, checking and filling all of the vital fluids (coolant, brake, power steering, transmission, etc) and checking the tire pressure. We also are happy to address any concerns the customer may have while we are under the car (we are funny noise specialists). We also perform all major mechanical repairs and standard maintenance:  tune-ups, brakes, A/C and heat, transmission service, radiator service and pretty much anything else that could go wrong with the car.”

The Kizer family’s Zippy Lube, which has now expanded to three locations since the first one opened 25 years ago, has been voted “Best Oil Change” many years in a row.

 

ZIPPY LUBE: A REAL FAMILY BUSINESS

“Zippy Lube, is a family operation and everyone in the family is involved in some capacity,” Ronnie says. “Each of the kids’ first jobs were here, and they’ve continued to help since they are old enough. Keith grew up working at Zippy I and Zippy II, now he manages Zippy Lube III on Robert Smalls Parkway. He knows the business better than me! Corey helps Keith part-time and Kelli manages the front office for me.  Keith’s oldest son Justin is even learning at 13! In addition to the kids, my oldest brother Billy is the senior mechanic at Zippy II on Lady’s Island. My sister Cheryl worked for me for years but has since retired. Larry’s daughter Bonnie does the accounting for all three shops over in Shell Point, and his wife Lane and daughter Heidi work there. Heidi’s husband Wesley is the mechanic at Zippy Lube I as well.  This makes us a pretty close-knit family!”

Ronnie’s wife Donna — retired manager of Omega World Travel on Parris Island and currently full-time grandma to their eight (and a half) grandchildren — seems like one of the few family members not to be working in the family businesses. (But I’m sure she’s heard enough around the dinner table over the years to qualify as a “non-paid employee.”)

A couple of years ago, Ronnie and his son, Keith, received a special treat. Quaker State took them to Charlotte and let them drive 30 laps in a NASCAR race car.  They averaged about 140 mph.

As for the future? “Hopefully in the future we can pass the business along to the next generation — that is, if they want to work as hard as Larry and me!” said Ronnie with a smile.

There is a Southern saying that goes something like this:  “The two most important things in a man’s life are to find a good wife and a good mechanic.” Thanks to the hard-working Kizer family, Beaufort’s got the “good mechanic” part of that saying covered.

Visit the Kizer family at any
of these three convenient locations:

Zippy Lube I

718 Parris Island Gateway

Beaufort, SC 29906

Near Shell Point Plaza

843-522-1335

Zippy Lube II

149 Sea Island Parkway,

Beaufort, SC 29907

In between Walgreen’s and

Sonic on Lady’s Island

843-522-3560

843-263-9782: Ronnie’s Cell

Zippy Lube III

43 Robert Smalls Pkwy

Beaufort, SC 29906

Next to the movie theater

843-522-2120

They specialize in:

• 10 minute oil changes

• All maintenance services

• Diagnostics

• All major mechanical