Richard Noble, Prince William County's deputy executive, has resigned his $58,000-year post to become a partner in QuikLube, a fast-service automotive business.

Noble, who has been with the county for six years, is leaving because the business opportunity is a "golden one," he said. He credits county experience with giving him the self-confidence he needed to make the move.

Noble, 41, came to Prince William from Fairfax County, where he had spent five years developing computer systems for Fairfax's general district, juvenile and circuit courts. County Executive Robert Noe, who hired Noble to organize Prince William's Office of Management Information and Audit, promoted Noble to his present position six months after Noble came aboard.

"He has been a great asset and an integral part of county government ever since," Noe said.

Noble's early duties leaned toward "trouble-shooting," he said, but in the last several years he has overseen the county's large construction projects, most notably the judicial center that opened last year and the county administration complex on Davis Ford Road that will open next month.

"It's hard to leave," Noble said. "It's like leaving family; I've lived and breathed Prince William County for six years."

Noble, along with partner and next-door neighbor George Milleson, will open their first automotive shop next month in Fairfax City, with a second one slated to open next summer. "The business climate is right," Noble said. "It's a good product, it's the right situation for me. If I don't make the move now, I might regret it the rest of my life."