I’m sure that none of us particularly look forward to taking our vehicles in for service, but certainly it’s a fact of life. Whenever I do, I’m reminded of how some establishments understand that it’s as much about the owner as it is about the car. Luckily, I have a reputable repair facility available to me for those instances when I don’t feel competent enough to complete the repair myself.
I recently brought my car in to that repair facility for service, and when I returned to collect my vehicle, the advisor, who knows I’m a car enthusiast, asked me if I had time that evening to view some special cars. A local car enthusiast was opening his collection up to the public, and he told me I should try to stop by if possible. In today’s world where wacky people are prone to insane acts of violence and vandalism, I found it amazing that this collector would potentially put his babies in harm’s way. Nevertheless, I threw caution to the wind and put the family in the car to go check them out.
I was absolutely dumbfounded when we arrived. We were escorted to the basement of his business and there they were: 50 beautifully preserved vehicles from every vintage and interest you could imagine. From 1905 to current Indy race cars, it was all there – and all in perfect running order except for the 1905 and the Indy car. These weren’t trailer queens but highly detailed and maintained automobiles there for car nuts’ enjoyment. And get this – we were allowed to get in them and open the doors and hoods! There wasn’t a single “Do not touch” sign in the place.
This generous man also had his collection of automotive repair memorabilia on display. Topped off with food and beverages, it made for a very enjoyable evening with my family. Remember, I didn’t know this man from Adam. It was a word-of-mouth event and I would guess that 200 to 300 people showed up. That’s what I call giving back!
I guess “giving back” is the point of my column this month. In our industry, there are many things to be concerned about. We’re faced with immense business challenges each and every day, but we need to be sure we take the opportunity to enjoy the many things that exist around the automotive repair industry. Or, if we have a passion, share it. Local vocational programs and high schools are always looking for ways to help kids find their way in this challenging world. Don’t be afraid to get out there and share our industry with our youth.
In this business, we’re all getting older. The average body shop owner is 46 years old. We need the generations behind us to take up our trade and keep the vehicles in America looking good and running well. So as the title of this column indicates, ’tis the season. Get out and give something back, even if only to make yourself feel good. Here’s to a happy New Year and a prosperous 2010!