Spark Auto began as many businesses do -- as a family affair. Our father, Stavros, began the business in 1967, specializing in auto repair and remanufacturing and rebuilding starters and electrical sy...
Spark Auto began as many businesses do — as a family affair. Our father, Stavros, began the business in 1967, specializing in auto repair and remanufacturing and rebuilding starters and electrical systems. Two years later, he was joined by his brother, Peter, and after some years, I and my brother Nick began to work there, helping in the growth of the business. After, some time, we soon took Spark Auto in a new direction, starting in the late 1980s by opening a parts business to complement the repair business and then transitioning Spark Auto from automotive repair and remanufacturing to being a full-time jobber operation.
If someone asks what our success as a jobber is based on, I will have to honestly answer that is comes from the many years toiling as technicians and owners of an established auto repair facility. We have never forgotten the amount of effort and time it takes to maintain and repair a vehicle, how much vehicle technologies have changed and what pressures that places on technicians. Twenty years ago, things were easier for the technician: there were fewer makes of vehicles on the roads and the underlying technology of vehicles involved fewer electronics and computer systems. Today, the number of makes of vehicles has increased, including more foreign and import nameplates, and the electronics and computer systems on today’s vehicles are daunting.
To repair and maintain such vehicles technicians have to update their skills and technical knowledge all the time, attend training programs and invest with their shop owners and managers in the latest diagnostic equipment. They also need the right parts and they need to be able to source them quickly.
Jobbers today have to understand these pressures and make sure to develop solid working relationships with technicians. In fact, we jobbers have to learn that technicians and shop owners are our partners in business, not simply clients. They not only buy parts from us, but they look to us to help them be successful. We have to be there to support them by making sure they get all the information they need on the latest motor vehicle technologies; that means we as jobbers have to keep in constant touch with manufacturers about what is the latest in their product lines, so we can pass that information onto the technicians when they call. As well, we also have to keep ready-at-hand all the parts and materials technicians need and make it available to them right away, which is a constant challenge, but one that has to be met if independent service shops are to remain profitable; and we also have to work at providing technicians with training programs and support through the suppliers. Success in this industry will come from everyone working together, thinking of each other as partners, not simply as clients and customers. When we can move beyond that, then this industry will thrive.
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