Bob Cole has been in his profession for quite some time. He started working for Volkswagen back in 1974, and has honed his skill over his years of experience. Bob served our country in the Navy as well. Bob and his wife, Sheila, love to travel and see the wonderful world. One of Bob’s goals is to see all of the national parks and explore what’s out there.
What inspired you or led you to your current career/owning your business?
For several years, after I got out of the Navy, I worked as a mechanic for dealerships and other garages. I realized that the only way to get ahead in life was to step out on my own and start my own business.
How long have you lived or worked in the Pensacola area?
Well, I moved here after I got out of the Navy in 1974. The first place I got a job at was at Pick Me Volkswagen, over off Warrington. So, I had about a 35 mile commute to work every day and I had to be there at 7 in the morning. I did well though, I got a lot of experience there at the Volkswagen shop on import cars, especially Volkswagen and European cars. It was enjoyable and I liked the people I worked with. I still associate with some of them and call my friends.
After Volkswagen, I got a job for a couple years back out at Whiting Field, on the Vietnam Reappointment Act, trying to work my way into a sand-crabbing position there. It didn’t work out, I got passed over for jobs and realized I couldn’t get on civil service. I wasn’t making enough money, so I went back to turning wrenches at Volkswagen again.
After about a year and a half there, a fella called me that was on 9th Ave, and asked me to come by and take a look at an Audi Fox(same as the Volkswagen Dasher) that they were having problems with. They couldn’t get the timing belt set up right. I took care of that for them and the next day got a phone call being offered a position as the manager. So, I took it because it was about half the distance as Pick Me Volkswagen was. I managed that shop for Dennis West for about 2 years. In the process, I got to know the Blakes, and we opened Runway Imports. That lasted for a couple years. Through some partnership difficulties, Sheila and I decided to go around the corner and open Bob Cole automotive. At the time, we called it Import Automotive.
Who is the most interesting person/business owner you’ve met here in Pensacola? Who would you like to see nominated as a Face of Pensacola?
That’s a hard question, I’ve met so many great people in the Pensacola and two county area, that it’s hard to pick one out.
What advice would you give a crowd of people? (Or someone starting their own business?)
Don’t give up and work hard. Try to gauge your time. The only mistake I’ve made in business, is taking time away from my family to grow the business. Don’t do that. Balance your time. They’re gonna grow before you in a blink of an eye.
What makes you the most nostalgic about (or what is most iconic in) Pensacola?
Fade Auto Parts. The day I opened my shop, I called down to Fade, and he knew me from my reputation. The counter man said, well “Mr. Cole, you’re going to have to open an account.”, and Mr. Fade called back in 5 minutes and said that I had a $10,000 open account starting right now.
Also, I would say Joe Patti’s.
Where do you see yourself (and your career/business) in 5 or 10 years?
Kicking back and relaxing. I’ll be enjoying life with Sheila.
What is your favorite restaurant in Pensacola, and what do you love there? (What is your favorite dish, and where do you get it?)
La Hacienda is a great place if you like Hispanic food. I do like good Italian though too.
If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be? And why?
I would go back to Alaska. We went for 9 weeks total. It’s just beautiful. I like to get to a location and go out and explore. If anyone tells you that you can see all of Alaska in a month, it’d be like me telling you that you can see all Florida in a day. There’s so much to see.
What is your favorite movie OR what is the first movie you remember seeing in a theater?
The first movie I saw in a theater was Godzilla, and it was at a drive in. My favorite is probably Vanishing Point or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
What is something on your bucket list?
I want to see as many national parks as I can. All of them if possible.
What is your favorite thing or something unique about Pensacola?
I would say the Navy base.
Choosing anyone alive and a non-relative: with whom would you love to have lunch?
I would choose President Trump. The main reason would be to thank him for the great job he’s doing.
What is your favorite music/ 3 bands you would like to see (dead or alive)?
Crosby, Stills, & Nash, Roy Orbison, and 3 Dog Night.
(Even for friends or family), what is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
I like to sing.
What words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word HOME?
“Yinz”(it means ya’ll) and “home fries”(it means hash-browns).
If you were cast into a major motion picture and had your choice of anyone to be your co-star, who would you choose?
I would choose James Arness.
If you had a full-time staff member that was fully paid for, who would you choose?
Chef, Housekeeper, Driver, Coach, Physical Fitness Trainer, or Nanny?
Housekeeper for sure.
To learn more about Bob and his business, or you need services, check out his website!
Address: 5868 McAllister Ave, Pensacola, FL 32504
Phone: (850) 478-9580
Be sure to check out what our other nominees have to say!