When I left teaching 10 years ago, I had been a classroom teacher for 24 years. I had majored in Latin and Greek at Rice University. I started teaching while I was still a student. For much of that time, I taught Latin and Western Civilization. Towards the end of my teaching years, I added World History and Journalism to my repertoire. None of these things really prepared me to be a small business owner. On the other hand, all of these things prepared me better than any business degree could have. Somehow being rooted in the classics gave me a foundation that has served me well.
I think the biggest benefit is that I had a curious mind and by studying ancient Latin and Greek I learned how to analyze and approach challenges systematically.
Today marks our 10th anniversary of owning one of the oldest operating independent automotive repair shops in Houston. We are celebrating 10 years! Tempus fugit!
We are the second family to own this historic auto repair shop. When Adolf started, he was still repairing Model A Fords on a regular basis. Now, we are repairing Prius’s on a weekly basis. I have learned about cars, about people, and about business. It’s all wonderful. I still wake up every morning excited about coming to work. What cars are going to see? What new customers will stop by? Will I see some of my friends? We are always reaching for a new challenge and that causes our business to evolve.
The best thing about being in business however is all the wonderful friends we have made. Many of our customers are friends whose friendship is priceless. Sybren and I have learned from our friends and their friendship means so much to us. It is great to see a returning customer and greet them. We catch up on the children, on their spouse. We know their names. Sometimes, we even know the names of their pets. I still give rides almost daily to our clients. This gives me an opportunity to know them even better or to catch up on the news since the last oil change.
Looking back at our records, I see that we have serviced over 31,000 cars and 7,000 customers. We have done over 75,000 oil changes! We have replaced 1000s of water pumps, spark plugs, even engines and transmissions.
When we started, people’s cars had carburetors and their mufflers rusted out; their radiators were still repairable; few cars had coils and most still had plug wires. Now we have hybrids, fully electrics cars and more diesel automobiles than ever.
Sybren and I have evolved, too. We both have developed as business owners. Like our techs, we take classes almost weekly. While Sybren has locked his tool box, he has unlocked his creative business vision. I will be writing more about that shortly.
It is part of the American dream to be a business owner. In my opinion, it’s a privilege. Whatever success we enjoy, it is because of the confidence that our clients have placed in us. Success is the reward for doing the job right, doing it efficiently, and providing excellent customer service.
One of my customers said, nurturing a business is a bit like gardening. Plant the seed, water it and nurture it. Take care of it properly, and it grows and one day it will bloom. Well said!
Here’s to our next ten years!