The story of Liberty Hoepfl Garage is the living, breathing embodiment of the American Dream, as hard work and hope paved the way to a successful auto repair shop. Now, armed with highly-trained auto mechanics, Liberty Hoepfl Garage has earned a reputation among the community as being someone Houston drivers can trust and rely on.
Liberty Hoepfl Garage in Houston was founded in 1946, and now, the current owners are Sybren and Kathryn van der Pol. Sybren, nicknamed “Doc” or “Adolf,” bought the shop from Eugene in 2004. The story of Liberty Hoepfl Garage began more than 73 years ago when 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 on the property that they cut down for 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 auto mechanics 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 for 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 motorhead. 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. When he reached the age of 18, he had worked for a Honda dealership as a motorcycle mechanic and 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. She 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 underlying 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 numerous 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. In addition, they also support the Battleship Texas Foundation, an organization dedicated to preserving the TEXAS, the only battleship that survives from WWI and WWII.
Other charities supported by Liberty Hoepfl Garage include the Garden Oaks Civic Club, Garden Oaks Montessori School, Durham Elementary School, YMCA on 34th Street, the Oaks Dad’s Club. Sybren is the President of the Automotive Service Association. Kathryn is the founder of the North Shepherd Community Alliance and sits on the board for a proposed charter school, Heritage Classical Academy.
We at Liberty Hoepfl believes that we are not just fixing a car; we are establishing a relationship held in trust.
America was founded on principles of virtue, faith, wisdom, and courage, and at Liberty Hoepfl Garage, we emulate these values in the service we provide to Houston drivers. Schedule a reservation for service today. We are conveniently located at 4610 N. Shepherd Drive, Houston, TX 77018. Our business hours are from Monday through Friday, 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM and Saturday, 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. We look forward to seeing you soon!