Creative Connections with Jeff Gerlach at Challenger Auto and Truck Service

Creative Connections with Jeff Gerlach at Challenger Auto and Truck Service

  • Real Creative Group
  • 05/27/22
 

In this episode of Creative Connections I'm interviewing Jeff Gerlach with Challenger Auto & Truck Service in Pasadena, Maryland. Watch the episode to learn how this local, family owned business of 25+ years has broken the stigma of the automotive trade by focusing on relationships and building trust with their clients.

James Bowerman:
Hey, everyone. It's James Bowerman. You're watching another episode of Creative Connections. I'm here today with Jeff Gerlach with Challenger Auto and Truck Services right here in Pasadena. Thanks for being here with me, Jeff.

Jeff Gerlach:
Thank you for having me.

James Bowerman:
So, I always want to start out just for the people watching who don't know who you are, tell them a little about who you are, and Challenger, and what you guys do there.

Jeff Gerlach:
Yes sir. I'm Jeff Gerlach, my wife and I own Challenger Auto and Truck Service, and we service and repair all makes and models of vehicles, American, foreign, domestic, light trucks, medium-duty trucks. And, we even have some clients that want me to fix their [inaudible 00:00:43] or sometimes, their go-cart, so we'll take care of little things like that.

Jeff Gerlach:
Doing this now, pretty much my whole life. So I've had one career, 25 years plus. Don't really count the teenage years.

James Bowerman:
Yeah, that's impressive. 25 plus years.

Jeff Gerlach:
Yeah.

James Bowerman:
Tell me a little bit about the background of how you got into the trade.

Jeff Gerlach:
My father was very much a do-it-yourselfer on a lot of things. When I was probably about third or fourth grade, he had me give him a hand changing in the oil. Always knew dad had tools, but I actually discovered his toolbox. It was immediate. Anything that had screws, the old Fisher price toys, the record player. I just, I had to take them apart. I wasn't real good at putting it back together.

James Bowerman:
I was going to say that, putting them back together, because I've gotten into situations where I take things apart, and then, putting them back together now is a little bit...

Jeff Gerlach:
So yeah. So that's, dad would come to the rescue. Cars came really quickly. And by sixth grade, seventh grade, I just wanted to work on everything, bicycles, dirt bikes. I could put the stuff back together.

James Bowerman:
Figured that part out?

Jeff Gerlach:
Yep. Yep. And dad started doing more and more cars, and then kind of surpassed dad's ability. Just knew, I always loved music, and it was either music or going to be a mechanical trade. I'll probably have a better go at it with doing cars than being a musician.

James Bowerman:
Pretty much born, born to do it, it sounds like.

Jeff Gerlach:
Yeah, no actually I do feel, I say a lot, blessed by God that I'm definitely doing, I love what I do. And I'm fortunate enough to make a living doing what I love.

James Bowerman:
Tell me a little bit more about your business, because obviously you're not the only mechanic in town, and I think there's a stigma around mechanics, maybe not a positive one.

Jeff Gerlach:
Absolutely.

James Bowerman:
So how have you survived and what have you done with the business to separate yourself that maybe people watching in the community aren't aware of?

Jeff Gerlach:
I agree 100% about the statement with the stigma. My trade deserves the reputation it has, unfortunately. And that is a low trust factor. I knew pretty early on that I was going to own my own business one day. That was a big drive of mine. I wanted to have my own place. And I really believed in my heart that I could just do it better, and not just the working on the car part, it's with with the clients, with people. That was our big goal was, we want to actually have relationships with our clients.

Jeff Gerlach:
We're going to deliver better service, we're going to do it with integrity, we're going to do it with honesty. We looked at warranties on work, and I was personally of the opinion that if I'm using good parts on vehicles, I should easily be able to warranty that for two years, 24,000 miles. And so that was going to be our warranty and is our warranty.

Jeff Gerlach:
The other thing we wanted to do was make things a lot more convenient. When cars break down, when there's issues, when they need service repair, it's tough not having your vehicle. So we have a nice little fleet of loaner cars. Sometimes even, take a loaner car to a client, pick up their vehicle for convenience. And then also have, for those who didn't need a loaner vehicle, but needed a shuttle ride.

Jeff Gerlach:
The other big thing was, clients have an emergency, a breakdown. It's after business hours, it's on the weekend. We wanted our clients to have the ability to get in touch with us.

James Bowerman:
Yeah, it's never the most opportune time.

Jeff Gerlach:
It never is. Never is. So we started a 24-hour, we call it the emergency contact number, and it's for vehicle emergencies, but it's also for clients to to reach me even with questions, concerns in regards to other things other than just service and repair.

James Bowerman:
And I can give you a testimonial. I've actually experienced every piece of that. You've been an advisor when we were shopping for a new vehicle. And the reason we were shopping for a new vehicle was issues with the old vehicle had gone to the dealership a couple of times, and it just didn't feel like there was any trust there. And they didn't fix the issue.

James Bowerman:
Dealing with you, you really explained, not just like, here's the problem, here's what we're going to do, but here's your options. What are your goals with the vehicle? Understanding that we were going to trade it in, okay, maybe let's not replace the engine, and do something crazy. And then giving a loaner vehicle, which is also extremely convenient for, it was my wife's car, and we have two kids, and she had to get them to and fro, and not having to skip a beat to keep continuing life. As you know, you took your time and really addressed issues, which was great. Speaks a lot of you, and your family, and the company.

James Bowerman:
So Jeff, the last thing, just if somebody is experiencing a breakdown, or they need an oil change, any type of service, right, with the vehicle? And they want to schedule a time to come in and get a repair and get it fixed, when are you open, and how can they get a hold of you?

Jeff Gerlach:
Yep. We're open Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM. The shop phone number is (410) 439-8900. You can also schedule by the internet too. The website is www.challengerautotruck.com. The 24-hour emergency number is (410) 562-9632.

Jeff Gerlach:
And man, listen, thank you. Thank you for being a client. That's great to do an interview like this, and somebody's actually had the experience. Yeah. So very much appreciate it.

James Bowerman:
My pleasure, and you beat me to it, so thank you for being on the show. Appreciate your time, and look forward to continuing that relationship.

James Bowerman:
And like I said, if you have any issues, Jeff's your guy. So thanks Jeff.

Jeff Gerlach:
Very good man. Thank you.

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