Brothers Ernie and John Rowan learned to fix cars growing up around their dad’s junkyard in the 1960s and ’70s. In the late ’70s, Ernie bought Shorty Anderson’s garage on Stewart Street. Anderson had started the business in 1927, when there were hardly any cars yet in Morgantown, and earned a solid reputation. John later came in as Ernie’s partner, and they never changed the name. “It had been such a good name,” says Ernie and John’s nephew Travis, who runs the office at Shorty Anderson’s Auto Service today. “Not much else has changed over the years, either—we do have diagnostic computers, but we have no computers in the office. Everything’s written by hand.”

The Rowans have always upheld the good name Anderson built. “We try to do everything the same day or the next day,” Travis says. “And we’re just very, very honest with customers. It’s not rare for somebody to come in here thinking they need something, and us to tell them their car’s fine.” Shorty’s has lifelong customers and third-generation customers, some of them from before Ernie owned it. They’ve voted Shorty’s Best Mechanic three years in a row.

Ernie and John will eventually pass the business along to their nephews, Travis and his brother Shawn. “We plan to try to keep things the same, because it’s worked so well,” Travis says. Well, maybe one change: “We probably will get a computer.” — PK

908 Stewart Street, 304.599.4419


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Pam Kasey
Written by Pam Kasey
Pam Kasey has traveled, brewed, farmed, counseled, and renovated, but most loves to write. She has degrees in economics from the University of Chicago and in journalism from West Virginia University. She loves celebrating Morgantown and West Virginia as executive editor at New South Media.