Kris Cesena, Auto Medics, San Mateo, CA
“My inspiration to become involved in the automotive repair industry came in the summer between high school and college I got a job working as a bookkeeper at a service station. It was there that I met my future husband, Dan Cesena, who was working there as a technician. Three months later we moved in together and 3 years later we opened our own shop. Although I had a full-time job at the time, I would go to the shop after work and on weekends to help Dan with the marketing and general office type work.
Dan had worked at many independent shops before working at the Honda Dealer and always wanted to have his own service facility. The popularity of Hondas in the eighties and people’s understanding of the importance of routine maintenance was the perfect formula to get the shop going. Dan found a great location in Downtown San Mateo and after several weekends of cleaning up the building we opened in April 1987. The formula worked and the shop was profitable from the very first month. Dan had a partner the first 13 years in business, but after we bought out his partner in 2000, I quit my drafting career and went to work full-time at the shop. Dan taught me everything he knew about running a successful service and repair shop. Together we attended classes from Bob Cooper at Elite, Maylan Newton at ESI, Chubby at ATI, and many others. Our level of customer service and our understanding of business management increased and now after 25 years, we’ve established ourselves solidly in the community. We feel we have achieved our goal of Auto Medics becoming a well-oiled machine that will live on past us.
Both Dan and I have gained so much from our ASCCA membership! The access to discounted programs and services is a no-brainer. And we’re glad to know we have a voice in legislative matters through our association, which is the main reason we joined. But to our surprise, the biggest gains have come from networking with other shop owners. We’ve learned so much from other’s successes, and mistakes. And we’ve been happy to share our experiences to help others out as well. At first I was concerned about attending meetings with our local competitors, but we soon realized that when we help each other out, we elevate the level of our industry for the better of all shop owners AND consumers.
Advice I would offer to new ASCCA members is to really take advantage of the discounts as much as possible by contacting all of the benefit providers and asking what they can offer you as an ASCCA member! The savings you’ll receive will more than pay for the cost of membership. But the real value is getting involved. Go to the meetings. Talk to your fellow shop owners. Share information. And then once you’ve realized all those benefits, become more involved. Join your Chapter’s Board of Directors. Become a Chapter Representative. Join the ASCCA Board of Directors. Remember, this association is only as good as its members and volunteers. We have to keep passing the torch to keep it alive, and that’s a very worthwhile endeavor.”