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The Dart: Hard work builds successful business

NATCHEZ — When The Dart landed on Mascagni Avenue in Natchez, Calvin J. Dee took a break from working on cars to talk about this slice of the American dream.

It’s ironic that Dee works on cars, because his commute to work involves walking out of his house to his mechanic shops behind his residence.

Dee is the owner and manager of Calvin James Auto Repair.

The rules in Dee’s house also apply in the backyard.

“Treat people with kindness, and you will get the respect back,” Dee said. “It should always be that way, at home and at work.”

Dee said sometimes folks are thoroughly frustrated when they come in with car trouble.

“I try to reach the people who have an attitude with understanding,” Dee said. “They don’t know what’s wrong, and I explain it to them, and they calm down.”

Dee said it takes balance to separate work from personal life, a practice he had to refine over the years because he lives and works at home.

“You have to set a pace,” Dee said. “I come out of the house at 8 a.m. and go back in at 5 p.m. That is the only way to have control. Otherwise, people come knocking at all hours. My schedule is set, and fits with my personal life. Work has to be separate from life, especially living where I work.”

Dee grew up under the hood, learning from his father, Levi Dee Sr., also a mechanic. Dee said he’s been referred to as a “mechanical whiz,” but he still looks to dad for the tougher automotive problems.

“I call dad and ask for advice all the time,” Dee said.

Dee has been a mechanic for 18 years, and built his shops from the ground, up. He takes on all kinds of jobs from simple break repairs to transmission and engine replacement.

“I’ve come a long way,” Dee said. “I stayed focused and wound up with everything a man could want.”

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