Paul Grech, Allied Engine & Auto Repair, San Francisco, CA
Paul is the president of Chapter 21 (San Francisco). He’s pictured with his 1936 Ford pickup.
In his own words:
I became involved in automotive repair because I watched my dad work on his cars from the age of four and when I was 16 my dad gave me a 1936 Ford truck. I was able to get a license at 15, but I wasn’t able to keep it very long, because I had five tickets before I had a license, so I lost my license for six months. During that time without a license, I was able to put an Oldsmobile motor, a Caddie box and a nine inch Ford rear end in the ’36, so it was a very dependable hot rod and I still have it.
The road to owning my own repair shop began when I was 12. At that time my father’s cousin was the manager of the seven western states for Vespa motor scooters. I use to assemble them out of the crate. When I was 14 someone bought the distributorship and my father’s cousin and I got canned, so I got an after-school job in a garage working on Vespas. At 18, I went to work for an independent garage and worked there for 11 years, but between the garage’s two partners they had four sons, so I did not see a long term future for me there. Fortunately, a great opportunity popped up and I was able to walk into Allied Engine for 2,500 bucks in 1973. Everything was cheap then, rent was cheap, water was cheap, phone was cheap . . . everything was simple then and it was easy for me to make money at what came naturally to me.
Being an ASCCA member has benefitted me and my business. For example, the first ASC convention I attended was in 1977 in Lake Tahoe. The speaker advised us to buy our property if we wanted to be in business down the road. At the time I had made and saved a ton of money, so I listen and bought the building even though, at the time, rent was really cheap. Another example occurred in 1985, when I needed to get an office computer and I was able to ask my fellow ASC associates, who had gone through the process, what questions to ask in choosing a computer system to run my shop. I was able to make the right decision on their advice, and my first shop computer lasted me 15.
I would advise new ASCCA members to go to as many meetings as you can and talk to as many members as you can. Pick their brains, watch how they run their shops, watch how they act and behave, and pick out the best parts of them and instill them in yourself, and you will succeed.