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December 7, 2018

Faces of Fauquier: Tires, volunteerism in his blood

Photo/Cassandra Brown
“We have to deal with competition, but there are a lot of people who still like the hometown service,” RTO Tire and Automotive owner Steve Wright says.
It seems like when you get into the tire business, rubber’s in your blood and you don’t get it out
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
With oil-stained fingers forming hands that have led a life of labor, he reaches for a gumball in the lobby of his tire and auto repair shop in Remington.

Southern Fauquier native Steve Wright owns RTO Tire and Automotive in the center of the Rappahannock River-front town.

He still dedicates countless hours to helping others in his community through the Remington Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department.

“I grew up in Bealeton, when there was a caution light” at Routes 28 and 17 . . . . My dad died when I was 6 years old . . . and my mom was a waitress and raised three boys on a waitress’ salary” at the Opal truck stop.

A product of the county’s public school system, Mr. Wright took auto mechanics classes his junior and senior years at Fauquier High. His grandfather, uncles and cousins all worked in the trade.

Right out of school, he got a job at Rosson and Troilo in Brandy Station, where his uncle worked, and “started out delivering and changing tires, doing road service and mounting truck tires.

“I applied and got hired right there. I got into the tire business, and it seems like when you get into the tire business, rubber’s in your blood and you don’t get it out,” he says.

In 2002, Mr. Wright bought the Rosson and Troilo location in Opal and renamed it RTO Tire and Automotive. He moved the business to Remington in 2007.

Mr. Wright sells tires and does minor vehicle repairs in a former Gulf gas station building.

“I like saving my customers money and being fair to my customers,” the proprietor says. “Delivering a good product at a fair price.”

The rewards of running a small business include “knowing people by name, being able to go home at night and sleep and knowing I didn’t take advantage of customers.”

But, the challenges include online competition selling tires, and the high taxes and insurance premiums the entrepreneur pays.

“We have to deal with competition, but there are a lot of people who still like the hometown service,” he says.

Giving back to the community always has ranked among Mr. Wright’s priorities.

A volunteer firefighter in Remington for more than a decade, he still dedicates one night a week to the fire/rescue station on East Marshall Street.

He has served as the volunteer Company 2’s vice president and president, leading numerous fundraising committees and events.

Over the years, Mr. Wright has helped with the annual Shop With a Cop spaghetti dinner fundraiser and “Stuff the Ambulance,” during which volunteers drive around Remington and Bealeton to collect donations for U.S. Marines’ Toys for Tots program.

“None of these events are just me,” he stresses.

“To me, the best Christmas gift we get is doing this,” he says of “Stuff the Ambulance” with Santa.

For the Remington Firemen’s Carnival — the last of its kind in Fauquier, he cooks, mows the grass, “whatever needs to be done, I’ll do it.

“I like helping people. I don’t know how to put it,” Mr. Wright says. “I feel like we should do that — help people in need. That’s what we’re here for.”

• Age

• Home

• Work
Owner/operator, RTO Tire and Automotive, Opal and then Remington, 2002 to present; auto and tire repair work, Rosson & Troilo, Brandy Station and Opal, 1984-2002; Tom’s Towing in Warrenton, part-time, 1988-94.

• Why do you do the job?
Most places you take your car, the people are not fair. Other businesses don’t tell them what their car needs, or they try to sell them stuff their car doesn’t need, and I feel like that’s not right. That’s stealing. I like being part of a small community.

• Family
Wife, Michelle; daughters, Katherine and Jessica.

• Education
Fauquier High School, 1984.

• Civic and/or Church involvement
Remington Volunteer Fire & Rescue Volunteer Department, 2005 to present; vice president, Fauquier County Fire and Rescue Association, January 2018 to present; past president, Bealeton/Remington Ruritan Club.

• How long have you lived in Fauquier?
All my life.

• Why do you live here?
Because this is home, and I don’t know another place.

• How do you describe this county?
Fauquier is unique because we have the mountains and the water. It could snow in Northern Fauquier and be sunny and warm down here. The people are caring, giving people. They make the events successful — the people that support us.

• What would you change about Fauquier?
Have more industry, more businesses. Industry is what we need for jobs. Data centers, Amazon. We used to have in Remington, Trinity Plastics. Clean business is what we need.

I like the idea of data centers. The employees there are going to have cars that are going to need to be worked on. They have to have a place to eat. It’s a win-win.

More trails to walk.

• What do you do for fun?
I like to walk, camp, go places in my RV, play golf, go on cruises and spend time with my family; collect vintage automotive and Fauquier County memorabilia.

• What’s your favorite place in Fauquier?
The Warrenton Greenway. I used to walk it two to three times a week.

• What will Fauquier be like in 10 years?
More business. I think housing growth will slow down. I think the county will grow business-wise. Farms will be here.

I want to see jobs. Every dollar you spend in Culpeper goes to Culpeper. We need Lowe’s and bigger stuff, big-box stores. Does it hurt small business? Absolutely.

• Favorite TV show?
“The Andy Griffith Show” and “The Big Bang Theory.”

• Favorite Movie?
“The Shawshank Redemption” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

• Favorite book?
History books.

• Favorite vacation spot?
The Caribbean.

• Favorite food?
My wife’s cooking. Italian, Mexican, Chinese and sushi. I pretty much like everything.

• What is the best advice you have ever received? From whom?
I live by honesty. I got into helping people because (former boss) Tony Troilo paid my dues to be in the Bealeton/Remington Ruritan Club, and he showed me that you need to help the community.

You never know what effect you have on someone today that 10 years down the road will affect him or her.

• Who’s your hero and why?
My mother, Irene, because she raised three kids on a waitress’ salary. She’s 82 and lives in Culpeper and still works for her brother in Manassas.

And, my wife, for putting up with me.

• What would you do if you won $5 million in the lottery?
Buy Remington a new fire truck, pay some bills and take a cruise.

Have a suggestion?

Do you know someone who lives in Fauquier County you would like to see in Faces of Fauquier? E-mail Cassandra Brown at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), Don Del Rosso at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or Lou Emerson at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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stan · December 7, 2018 at 7:48 pm
Great community resident, friend and businessman. Need auto repairs, stop here first.
Smccormack · December 7, 2018 at 4:19 pm
Steve Wright and Shelly are the BEST. Good luck in the future and Merry Christmas.
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