Adolf Hoepfl & Son Garage is named after the company founder Adolf and his son Eugene. It was founded in 1946 when Shepherd was a dirt road and 43rd Street was the edge of the city.
The current owners are Sybren and Kathryn van der Pol. Sybren nicknamed “Doc” or “Adolf” bought the shop from Eugene in 2004. What follows below is a brief biography and history.
More than 66 years ago, Adolf Hoepfl started this repair shop. He and his wife, Lillie, built the shop themselves from cement blocks that they poured and using the pine trees that they had cut down as ceiling rafters. When they opened up on January 1, 1946, their first customer was Adolf’s dad who needed work done on his Dodge truck.
In the early 1940s, there were no automotive training programs in Texas so Adolf had to travel to Kansas City, Missouri for training. He was one of their top students and graduated from automotive school while earning his high school diploma at the same time. Adolf was one of the first certified technicians in Texas, and the first Texan to purchase one of the earliest engine analyzers which is still on display.
Lillie and Adolf had two children, Eugene and Linda. Both worked at the shop while growing up. Linda helped in the office while Eugene worked on cars and was the company tow truck driver. Eugene first started pulling a wrecker at age 13. By the time he finished high school, he was repairing automobiles and was an air-conditioning specialist.
Eugene and his wife Virginia took over the shop in 1985. Out of habit many customers just called Eugene “Adolf” just as they now call Sybren “Adolf.” Eugene expanded the shop, adding additional bays to the rear of the building and installed a dynamometer to perform state inspections. Eugene and Adolf had established a reputation of integrity and helpful service.
When Eugene was nearly 65, he decided it was time to sell the shop to another mom and pop. After interviewing numerous candidates, he chose Sybren and Kathryn van der Pol.
Sybren van der Pol is a first generation American. His Dutch father was a merchant marine who ended up in the U.S. during World War II unexpectedly. His father’s tanker was blown up by a German U-boat in the Gulf of Mexico and he was rescued by a British frigate. When the war ended, his wife joined him in the U.S., and his son, Sybren, was born in New Orleans.
Sybren was a born motor head. Always fascinated with anything that moved, he took apart and reassembled small machines from boyhood. By the time he was twelve, he was the family and neighborhood mechanic and by the time he was 18, he had worked for a Honda dealership as a motorcycle mechanic and for Oosterhuis Ship Repairers, repairing ship engines. Sybren graduated from Brother Martin High School and attended UNO.
After graduating with a degree in Business Administration from the University of New Orleans, Sybren moved to Houston. He worked primarily for the Archer family dealerships, specializing in Chryslers and Jeeps. In 2004, he was ready to find a shop of his own and met Eugene Hoepfl.
Sybren’s wife Kathryn, grew up as the daughter of a naval officer. She traveled extensively including four years in Japan. She studied classics and graduated from Rice University and taught high school Latin, history, and advised the school newspaper at St. John’s School until they bought Adolf Hoepfl Garage.
When Sybren and Kathryn first saw the shop, what sold them was the Hoepfl family. Their honesty, hard work, and self reliance impressed them and they wanted the challenge of carrying on this family business, which by this time was a landmark in the community.
Their first order of business was to make building repairs. They repaired the antique neon sign out front, added new lifts, a transmission room, and remodeled the office.
Today they employ five technicians and have eleven bays.
Early on, they decided to apply for the AAA of Texas Approved Repair facility program and became active in the Automotive Service Association (ASA). Adolf had been a founder of the Independent Garagemen’s Association, ASA’s predecessor. Currently, Kathryn is the President for 2010-2011.
Sybren and Kathryn’s basic philosophy is much like the Hoepfls. Take care of the customers, give back to the community and the business will take care of itself.
Sybren and Kathryn support two charities. Both love to ride bicycles and have ridden for years in the MS-150, the bike ride to Austin. They hold an annual fish fry to raise money for the M.S. Society and make a special oil change offer available in exchange for donations to Multiple Sclerosis. They also participate in Car Pros for Kids, a program that raises money for Child Advocates by providing free oil changes in exchange for a donation during the month of February.
Kathryn and Sybren are also active members in the Heights Chamber of Commerce. Kathryn is a former Board of Director for the Chamber of Commerce and currently chairs the Nominations committee.
Kathryn is the founder and first president of the North Shepherd Area Business Association and has also served as President of the Automotive Service Association in 2010 to 2011.
They believe that they are not just fixing a car, they are establishing a relationship held in trust.
Please read our mission statement on our website.