Anthony (Tony) Diller, 32, approaches his fledgling business the way he approaches life, with what he calls a Warrior’s Ethos. “I will never quit until the job is done,” he explained. "Life is not easy. A lot of it is just pushing through.” Diller’s perseverance is what got him through high school, through his 4 ½ years in the military, and ultimately back to his hometown of Marengo.

A self-proclaimed late-learner, Diller gives credit to Marengo Union High School teacher Mr. Schermer. “I learn more from doing than from reading,” said Diller. “Mr. Schermer and his auto classes showed me that I could be successful.” During Hiller’s high school years, Mr. Schermer got an old clunker car for the class to rebuild for the Demolition Derby. “The class had to make it safe enough for Mr. Schermer to drive,” said Diller. “We got put to work as part of the pit crew at the Demolition Derby.” That experience cemented Diller’s goal to become an auto mechanic. When he joined the military, he became a mechanic as part of the 1st Calvary Division, 4th Brigade, eventually deploying to Tillil Air Force Base in Iraq.

After leaving the military in 2010, Diller started college. According to Diller, a government shutdowns that year resulted in his brief period of homelessness. Following his Warrior’s Ethos, he scraped together enough funds to return to Marengo and go to college by selling cans and wood pallets and by working on cars in parking lots. He graduated from Universal Technical Institute in 2012 specializing in auto repair, diesel repair, industrial equipment and Ford Fact. He is ASE Certified. He is licensed to service and recharge air vehicle conditioning.

Diller began working for other mechanics at dealerships and area auto service franchises. He became disillusioned with the pricing schemes of the larger corporations. He decided to establish his own business in 2017, Cowboy Auto Repair, Inc. He started in his mother’s barn, and moved next to NAPA Auto Parts earlier this year.

“I tell people the way it is,” he explained. “I want to give them the best price possible.” With simple things like an oil change, Diller does a thorough inspection that includes suspension, air filter, brake line, tire pressure and tire inspection. “It’s more than a simple drain, refill and go.”

Diller credits the Marengo community for his success. “If it wasn’t for the community, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” he said. “The community gives me the trust I need for a successful business. In return, I’m here to make sure they have safe travels to where they need to go at a price that they can afford.


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