Sperryville column for Nov. 17

It’s ‘Farmily’ time

Rappahannock County is much like an extended family, meaning it enjoys small town, intimate rural qualities, populated by people who, for the most part, know each other. It’s a county of people who till the soil together, raise horses and all manner of livestock, cut hay and timber, run local businesses and together celebrate the beauty of country roads. So it is with enormous congratulations that I share this news from Molly and Mike Peterson of Heritage Hollow Farms: “Farmily: We have some news . . . we’d like you to meet our newest addition,” as Molly posted on social media last week.

“Mike and I have adopted a sweet baby boy. He’s perfect and healthy and so very loved by his First Mom. Our hearts are overflowing with gratitude for being trusted to be his parents and for being welcomed in on the most intimate and early moments of his life. We’ve also been completely held in faith, love, and support by our family and friends while we navigate the legal processes out of state, the newness and foggy state of parenting a newborn, and had to step away from all that is dear to us back home on the farm. We’ve felt at our most vulnerable and raw in a whirlwind (nearly) two weeks but have been comforted by so many reaching out asking how they can help and words can never come close to properly thanking them.”

Congratulations, Molly and Mike, I can’t think of a nicer couple to be given the chance to raise a child, and to raise him here. He’s a lucky little boy, indeed.

Shaw’s success story

Shaw’s Automotive Services in Sperryville is a family-run company, the family most everyone knows being James and Ricky Shaw, father and son, who established Shaw’s almost 24 years ago. James is a highly respected mechanic who has honed his craft over more than 50 years of experience. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree, and as a young boy, Ricky was caught by the mechanical bug and loves all things car-related. He initially cut his teeth at B&B Service Center; the same year he married Stefanie, in 1992, he and his dad launched Shaw’s together. It’s been a successful journey ever since.

James (left) and Ricky Shaw behind the counter at Shaw's Services in Sperryville.By Chris Green
James (left) and Ricky Shaw behind the counter at Shaw’s Services in Sperryville.

James is originally from Castleton, where his family farm straddled Rappahannock and Culpeper counties. He’s a quiet man, polite, focused and when he smiles, you can’t help wanting to smile back. He’s a former scoutmaster, and many a young man in Rappahannock are the beneficiaries of his sound leadership, including Ricky. He’s a wise man, sharing good counsel, telling his son Ricky, looking for his first vehicle when he was young, to get a make and model of car not often seen in the repair shop.

Shaw’s customers are not only from Rappahannock but surrounding counties, loyal customers who come back year after year. Indeed, a gentleman by the name of Jennings Webb sitting in the waiting area while I talked with Ricky and James told me: “I’m from Warrenton and I’ve been coming here for a very long time, and these men are so honest and they do excellent work”. He then proceeded to open his jacket and proudly showed me his Shaw’s T-shirt emblazoned with their logo. He looked up at one point and asked, “Ricky, how long have I been coming here?” Without pause, Ricky deadpanned, “Too long.” We all let out a good chortle.

Ricky tells me he and his dad complement each other. James is the scion of mechanics and Ricky is the businesses operational expert. James is a proud family man, happily married, he tells me, for 51 years to his wife Jean. Their children include Sherry Cillo, who works with Union Bank & Trust in Rappahannock, and their sister Tammy. The business is definitely a family affair. Tammy is married to Bobby Jenkins, a Shaw’s mechanic; Bobby’s brother Tom is a Shaw’s mechanic as well. Stefanie Shaw runs the Burgers N Things adjacent to the auto shop, and she and Ricky have two daughters, Jessica, 22, at U.Va., and Miranda, currently in college in Delaware. (Ricky, whose job requires long hours, does his darndest to attend her volleyball games). Another family member works for Shaw’s as well, namely young apprentice Jake Jenkins.

Stories abound of excellent Shaw customer service, tales of them going above and beyond to help out their clients. Daphne Hutchinson tells of her experiences, one of which happened when she was newly widowed and needing a more reliable vehicle. After a long work day, Ricky drove with her to Warrenton and helped her identify the best car.

Finding myself caught in a sudden torrential rain en route to Little Washington, my windshield wiper motor croaked; I pulled into Shaw’s, panicked and barely able to see. They immediately serviced my vehicle, enabling me to safely make my appointment in town.

Ricky and James told me colorful stories of customer experiences such as a gentleman who complained of smelling gas fumes; turned out he’d driven a bolt through through his floorboards and punctured the gas tank when he installed his car speakers. Another customer, observed careening down 211, her car aflame, pulled right up to the gas tanks. James said they rushed to her aid with fire extinguishers, followed shortly thereafter by the Sperryville Fire Department’s foam application.

James is proud of his family and of the business he and his family run. He often gets sales calls, he said, from folks wanting to sell him business advertising. He smiles and tells me he always politely declines; his advertising is word of mouth.

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