RR 373: Shop Talk 5 – Retired and Still Helping the Industry

Gary Summerfield started in the business in the early sixties pumping gas and doing general service station work. He opened his own service station in 1975 and received training from Shell, Sunoco, and Exxon.

Gary built his first garage in1990 and opened a second location in 1993  and his third in 1998, the fourth in 2002 and built a replacement facility Waxhaw in 2013.

Gary also had a large towing service from 1979 and grew it to 14 units. He closed it in 1999 sold the equipment and focused on the repair business.

He credits his success to attending training classes and required employees to attend also His business grew to 6 million dollars in total sales per year. Gary was to sell two locations with an offer he could not refuse. He also sold his Hybrid shop and repair and another location to his general manager and the fourth location to a towing service.

He is now a landlord but is considering building a new location for my youngest son and helping him run it.

Don Griffin started building transmissions in 1980 at a dealership. he left there in a year and worked interdependently for two years, then went back to a dealer. In 1983, he went to another independent shop until 1992 when he decided he wanted to rebuild transmissions his way and wanted to do European and Asian units.

He taught himself the electronics on those units when other shops didn’t want to bother with them. He made himself a name that he could fix anything foreign or domestic. His time in the shop was from 1992 until 2016. He had built a building in 1999 and still have that leased out. He was the one that can safely say he did it his way.

Tommy Kendal was born in Columbus County in 1939. He moved to Cumberland County in 1944. He lived on a farm and worked at a dairy until 1958 when he graduated from high school. He went to Danville Technical Institute for a 2-year auto mechanics course and in 1960, he graduated and went to work at H&L Auto as a mechanic.

During 1978, he took and passed all 8 ASE certification tests and received their Master Automobile Technician certificate. While in 1990, he moved up to management and during 1995, he passed the L1 Advanced Level test. He still enjoys working on cars. He really enjoys that more than management.


Key Talking Points:

  • Retired shop owner regrets
    • Running every aspect of the business yourself.
    • Not planning ahead for a succession plan.
  • The legacy they’re leaving behind
    • The mindset that customers enable you to pay your bills and feed your family- need to always go above and beyond for them.
    • Take pride in what you do.
  • Still helping shops
    • Information source- parts and vendors.
    • Business advice- margins, bottom line.
    • Reminder for constant training.
  • Technician pay
    • Cannot have the stereotypical mindset that entry-level techs live at home without spouse or children.
    • Entry level 50-75K salary- entry level need to have an understanding of electronics, shop owner needs to charge to compensate.
    • Important to hire the techs that are passionate about the industry.

Resources Mentioned:

  • Thanks to Tommy Kendall, Don Griffin, and Gary Summerfield for their contribution to the aftermarket’s premier podcast.
  • Link to the ‘BOOKS’ page highlighting all books discussed in the podcast library HERE. Leaders are readers.
  • Leave me an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one of them.

Be socially involved and in touch with the show:
Facebook   Twitter   Linked In   Email    Events    Speaking


This episode is brought to you by Federal-MogulMotorparts and Garage Gurus. With brands like Moog, Felpro, Wagner Brake, Champion, Sealed Power, FP Diesel and more, they’re the parts techs trust.  For serious technical training and support – online, onsite and on-demand – Garage Gurus is everything you need to know. Find out more at fmmotorparts.com  and fmgaragegurus.com

About the author, Carm Capriotto, AAP

Carm is the founder and host of the Remarkable Results Radio Podcast and the pioneer of automotive aftermarket podcasts. Carm calls on his years of experience in the aftermarket to bring engaging stories from his guests.

Listen to raw, unfiltered, honest, and sincere stories that include insights, trends, best practices, and expertise. Each interview brings an opportunity to learn one new thing through the stories of personal achievement. Many podcast guests tell their story of transformation from working in their business to working on it.

As host of over 1,000 episodes, Carm uses his enthusiasm and passion for the aftermarket especially the service sector to take his listeners on a journey showcasing successful service professionals’ paths to Remarkable Results. He also enjoys interviews with aftermarket industry thought leaders who bring their industry perspectives to his listener.

Follow the podcast on your favorite podcast listening app and always listen to learn just one thing!