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A humane body of work: Evergreen couple stay busy running auto body shops, fostering retrievers

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By Deb Hurley Brobst

If there’s anything to be said about Randy and Sharon Massey, it’s that they’re dedicated to everyone — whether on two legs or four.

The Soda Creek couple are passionate about taking care of their customers at L&H Auto Body, and just as passionate — or even more so — about taking care of dogs. Sharon is the president of Retriever Rescue of Colorado, and the two have intertwined their callings to take care of auto repair customers and rescued retrievers.

“We love working together, playing together and rescuing (dogs) together,” Sharon said.

The Masseys have owned L&H Auto Body for 22 years, taking over a business owned by Larry and Howard Caldwell for 45 years before that. The original auto repair shop is in Wheat Ridge, and the Masseys have expanded west to Silverthorne, Minturn and within the last year to Evergreen.

The Evergreen expansion has taken L&H to the former Rocky Mountain Academy of Evergreen building on Bryant Drive. The Masseys are renovating the structure to have auto bays in addition to office space.

 

Lots of changes

The auto repair business has changed a lot in 22 years, said Randy, 57, who was raised in northern Indiana but has made Indian Hills and Evergreen his home for 36 years.

“We used to just fix cars,” he said. “Now we’re a liaison, a consultant between the owner and the insurance company.”

What has made L&H so successful, he said, is the integrity built into a family-owned business.

“This is not about earning money,” Randy said. “It’s about whether (fixing a car) is the right thing to do. If you would fix it for a family member, then you fix it for anyone.”

He said working on cars should not have a cookie-cutter mentality. Much of his job is listening to customers — what they need, what will make the most sense for their cars and their budgets.

It’s about treating people like family, and the Masseys do the same with their employees. The people working at L&H are a tight-knit group, and the Masseys have found that most of their employees are as crazy about dogs as they are. Some of their employees are involved in the husky and greyhound rescue organizations.

 

A labor of love

Randy said all of the animal rescue organizations support each other because their goal is the same — giving all dogs loving homes.

The Masseys became involved in Retriever Rescue of Colorado about three years ago after their dog Buddy slipped out of their yard and was killed by a vehicle on Interstate 70. Talking about the loss of Buddy still makes them tear up, and they said their penance for allowing such a tragedy was to help other dogs.

“Buddy would have wanted us to help other dogs,” said Sharon, 50, a Denver native.

So Sharon decided to foster a dog for Retriever Rescue of Colorado, and she was hooked. She began doing more and more work for the organization, and in 2008 she was named a 7 Everyday Hero by KMGH-TV.

Retriever Rescue doesn’t have its own building, so the L&H Auto stores serve as informal adoption centers; when puppies are available for adoption, they are in puppy pens so customers can check out the dogs, too.

Randy estimates that 20 percent of his customers have adopted a dog, and sometimes people come to the shops to see the dogs, not to get auto repair service.

Evergreen is very dog-friendly, Sharon said, and Colorado is a safer place for dogs because the shelters here are well run. States farther east tend to have more puppy mills, and those dogs are sent to Colorado for adoption.

In fact, recently she received a litter of 5-week-old puppies that she will tend to until they are old enough to adopt. Finding the right dog owner for the rescued animals is a full-time job itself. For Sharon, it’s a labor of love.

Uppermost in her mind are the needs of the dogs, the need for more foster families and the need for more adoptive families, because every dog deserves a loving, happy home. Sharon is intent on finding the right match between dog and owner, so it’s a win-win situation for everyone.

Right now, there are 65 retrievers with foster families that are looking for permanent homes. The Masseys figure that over the last three years, they personally have fostered about 160 dogs.

The Evergreen L&H building is what Randy called “a new frontier” because of its additional space, and it can be used to store dog food and supplies that can be used by Retriever Rescue or donated to other rescue organizations.

In addition, the company donates 1 percent of its sales to an animal rescue organization of the customer’s choice. He estimated that a typical repair costs about $2,000, so the $20 donation would buy a large bag of food. Every little bit helps, he said.

 

Time for themselves

The Masseys have six dogs of their own, all rescued: Max, 6; Zipper, 8; Charlie, 3; Noah, 2; Bella, 3; and Ozzie, 3. They also have four grown children, all from previous marriages, and two granddaughters.

With the craziness of owning a business and operating the animal rescue, the Masseys still find time to relax.They recharge by going to Lake Powell, and Randy spends time on his “affliction,” playing hockey.

He’s as enthusiastic about his time on the ice as he is about running his business and helping dogs.

Their time, their energy, their enthusiasm — all go to helping others.

“We care very much,” Sharon said, and Randy added. “We’re helping those who need help.”

Contact Deb Hurley Brobst at deb@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1041. Check www.CanyonCourier.com for updates.

Retriever Rescue

For more information about Retriever Rescue of Colorado, visit www.retrieverrescueofcolorado.com.