ABERDEEN – For Auto Networx owner Deryl Clayton, working on automobiles is in his bloodline. His father was a mechanic who used to race cars, his grandfather was a mechanic, and his mother, JoAnn McKinney, even knows how to handle general roadside service.
“He was born with that talent. It was a rolldown,” she said.
Clayton opened his business earlier this year, which handles auto repair, body work and detailing. He and McKinney even work on tabletops.
“People can bring it in for an oil change all the way to a complete restoration. I can build engines and transmissions, paint, do body work and epoxy,” Clayton said.
He started working on cars when he was 14 and has spent a collective 15 years in the trade.
“I had a brand new Grand Am that was parked in the shop for a couple of months waiting for lifters to come in. He had been tinkering around with it in the garage and fixed it,” McKinney said. “People say, ‘I know you’re going to give him high praises because he’s your son,’ but I tell them, ‘Let me tell you about my experience.’”
Clayton served as a military police officer in the U.S. Army to take a break from being a mechanic but still helped work on military trucks while serving. He never took a body shop class while in high school but was schooled, rather, while working at AutoZone selling parts and at Mt. Moriah Auto Sales in Memphis, where he started as a technician.
After leaving the Army, he went back there to work as a technician, lead technician and ultimately a manager.
“[AutoZone] really helped. When I first started, I knew the basics, but it taught me where internal parts were. When I first started working at shops, I learned how to do things like a piston job. AutoZone taught me what I may or may not need to do the jobs,” he said.
While at Mt. Moriah Auto Sales, he worked on everything from Hondas to Maseratis. With AutoNetworx, he works on all makes and even diesels and school buses.
While attending high school in Memphis, Clayton built Chevrolet motors and sold them to make extra money. A Mustang lover, his passion now is building Ford engines.
“That’s my favorite. As far as everything else, I can figure it out and fix it,” he said.
Clayton and McKinney relocated to Aberdeen nearly two years ago, partly because his father grew up there.