Getting Personal: Ashley Pinnell

Getting Personal: Ashley Pinnell

Each week, we offer a Q&A with a local personality. Today, 33-year-old ASHLEY PINNELL of rural Dewey, the owner of Ron's Truck and Auto Repair, chats with staff writer Paul Wood. She's quite a volunteer and a horse lover.

How did you come to be a supporter of Fellowship for Christian Athletes? Were you in the group as a student?

I was in FCA at Rantoul High School. I became a supporter of it through my friend Eric Kraft. He in turn introduced me to Robbie Gwen, and I have been grateful to be a part of FCA ever since, most recently donating to their summer sports camps in Champaign and Urbana.

You donate Christmas backpacks to the Daily Bread Soup Kitchen yearly. How did you get started in this?

My mother, Debby Raup, read about the event in The News-Gazette five years ago and asked me to it with her. It has become a yearly tradition for us to do together ever since. The last two years, my mother-in-law, Donna Pinnell, has also joined us.

You're the owner at Ron's Truck and Auto Repair. Is this a family tradition?

I would like to think we are building a tradition at Ron's to pass down again and again. I am a second generation owner, having purchased the business from my father, Ron Raup, in 2010. We also have a second-generation technician, Sam Gillespie, whose father, Rick Gillespie, worked with my father before us. Ron's Truck and Auto is also very proud to serve second- and third-generation customers.

You studied management at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. Did you know then you'd be managing an auto shop?

I did not plan to take over the "family business" after college. I had a job offer before I graduated, but God had other plans for me. I turned the job down, came home and worked for my father, who ended up falling ill in 2009 and was unable to maintain day-to-day activities for some time. I ran the shop in his absence, and when he was well, he decided to sell the business and retire. I grew up in that shop, running around, sorting tools, putting on tires, etc. and just couldn't imagine someone else coming in and Ron's not being around anymore. So I sat my father down and told him I wanted to buy the business. It took some convincing, but luckily he agreed and here we are today. Best decision I have ever made in my life.

Tell me your favorite thing about Dewey and Thomasboro.

I have always lived in the country. I love how "neighbors," even if they are a few miles away, will always stop and help each other, sometimes without even being asked.

You're a member of Webber Street Christian Church, a business sponsor of Soccer Planet and also Lifeline-connect, a 12-month residential recovery program. How do you find the time?

I am so very blessed to have an amazing support system around me that allows me to split my time between different activities. It starts with the amazing group of employees I have working at my shop that uphold the same level of service I myself would provide. Also, my family and my husband, Jarod, support and help me with anything I choose to pursue.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of purchasing Ron's Truck and Auto at the age of 23, continuing the level of service and integrity that my parents instilled in me and blessed to see growth and success from that each year. My parents raised me to be accountable and to work hard for what I want in life. I have applied this not only to my business, but also to my relationships with my customers and employees.

Tell us about Wyatt.

Wyatt just turned 2 years old in September. My husband and I thank God every day for blessing us with such an amazing child. He is a smart, outgoing and determined child that smiles at anyone who passes by. I learn something from him every day. He loves playing with tractors, "farming," being outside as much as possible and definitely keeps us on our toes.

Do you love gardening?

I have an appreciation for gardening that I attribute to my mom and grandmother. I grew up working in their gardens and helping to can and put away our bounty. Although it is hard work, the benefits of being able to provide my family, as well as others, with homegrown vegetables and meals from it fills my heart.

You enjoy riding horses and "choring" around the farm with your family. How long have you had horses?

Horses have been in my life since birth. My mother grew up racing standardbreds, which progressed into Tennessee Walking Horses later on. I grew up showing horses, trail riding and also dabbled in barrel racing for a bit. Currently, I have my old show horse, Night, and Wyatt has a miniature horse named Tito. "Choring around" on the farm with horses brings me happiness. I hope to pass along a hard work ethic and love for animals to my son.

What's something almost nobody knows about you?

I have a fear of grasshoppers, but only when they jump or fly.

What's your favorite sports team?

My husband and I are huge St. Louis Cardinals fans.

What's your best piece of advice?

Surround yourself with people who are going to push you, encourage you, support you — but always be truthful, in whatever you do.

What was your first job and how much did you make an hour?

My first job was at The Apple Dumpling in Urbana. I don't recall exactly what I made, but being my first job, even a dollar was exciting to me.

Do you have any regrets in your life? What are they?

I don't have regrets, just situations that I learn from. I try and take situations that don't go as planned and turn them into something positive to be used the next time.

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