Speaking with Richard Shaffer and his daughter Cassie, you quickly recognize the commonalities in personality, attitude and common sense. Both are very personable, yet confident, both savvy, yet witty and both very grounded with a very down-to-earth demeanor.
Richard is the founder of Affordable Auto Rental & Sales. He began the company back in 1982 after losing his position with a large national corporation. “I lost my job when I got sideways with a vice president of the firm. I was working as an executive for the company and in charge of about 100 stores at the time,” Shaffer said as he reflected back about four decades ago. “After I lost my job, I attempted several things as a career; I sold computers for a little while… didn’t like it so I tried real estate. I really didn’t like that too well either, so again I began keeping my eyes open for other opportunities. Then one day when I was out west I saw an article in a magazine about a company called Rent-A-Wreck. I thought: hmmm, I like cars and I was renting cars all the time for my business. This sounds like something I could do and that I might really enjoy. So before too long I started Affordable.”
So Richard opened his first location on the east side of South Bend across from the once popular Playland Park, a local entertainment center at the time. He began to figure out his niche when one day he had a unique experience. “I wanted to sell my car and decided to try to get $400 for it. But before long this guy comes along and says, ‘I’ll give you $500 if you take $50 a week’. I thought heck yes and took the deal. This put me on a path that would soon be the staple for my company," Richard related. “At that time, most of the ‘buy here, pay here’ car guys would try to get a deposit on a car that would cover their costs, anything else was pure profit.” Richard decided, “I’ll take a little risk by offering a smaller payment and see if that works.” The rest, as they say, is history.
Before too long, Shaffer outgrew his first facility and felt the need to move forward. “We needed a larger repair facility.”, he stated, reflecting on those days. “We needed a much larger building for cleaning and repairing rental cars so after about six months we moved to the Roseland location.”
After a while, and a fair amount of success, Richard decided to partner with his brother Robert and open a second location. "Bob and I made the decision to work together and we opened another shop, this one in Mishawaka, and we have had a great partnership since that day.” As testament, not only have the first two locations been successful, but Shaffer has opened two more locations since then. Today, Affordable has two operations in South Bend, one in Elkhart and one in Mishawaka.