Robert Salerno, Salerno’s Auto Service Center, Redlands, CA
I became an automotive shop owner because my parents didn’t like the idea of my being an automotive mechanic. The long hours I spent redesigning four-cylinder engines into V8s, lowering vehicles, along with the loud exhaust became total frustration for my parents. Then there was marriage and children. I still had a desire to do something I liked. My first love was working on vehicles, and with the approval of my first wife we borrowed money to open a service station. That was 37 years ago and since then I have owned several service stations, until eventually I felt the need for a larger shop. March 10, 2014 will mark 48 years in business.
Here’s how I got involved with ASCCA. Never be in a meeting and have to go to the bathroom! What happened on April 15, 1980 was the beginning of 34 years of involvement with ASCCA. I was at an ASCCA meeting and at the end our executive director John Goodman said to me and the membership that I would be a leader of the association. Like a lot of shop owners, I said, “No way, I do not have the time.” “Yes, you will make the time and effort,” said the person next to me (now longtime friend and adviser Dale Bright). Three shop owners were installed that evening and I was the last one chosen. What happened was I came out of the bathroom to find a group of people standing up and applauding my return to the room. I asked what had happened. Dale replied, “You have been voted in as a chapter board member.” At another meeting later on this happened again — I took a bathroom break only to come back and hear President Pete Peterson state that I had been voted in as mechanical governor (chapter representative today).
The group of shop owners that we have now are more knowledgeable than us old timers. My love for our association is still strong and I am proud to be part of ASCCA. Without the work of volunteers we wouldn’t be as strong as we are. Without membership we are just alone in our shops. When you look around the table at meetings and conferences you can see we are all individuals working together. I stated one time at a meeting that we are not competitors — we are comrades in the same industry. We must all work together to make a better image for the automotive industry. Amen!