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It might seem hard to believe when reading Ratchet+Wrench, but we rarely have an opportunity to set foot inside the shops we feature, or shake hands with the owners, managers and staff who run them.

Our editorial team of five (including myself) does nearly all of its work from our office in St. Paul, Minn. In the last year since launching this magazine, we’ve built a large network of industry sources, from shop leaders to consultants, vendors, manufacturer representatives and others. We’re on the phone with them every day, working on the next story and always looking for what’s next.

We’ve had the opportunity to visit some excellent Minnesota shops, including that of Ratchet+Wrench editorial advisory board member Wayne Watson, who owns Auto Works Automotive Service Center in Woodbury. But we’ve had very few chances to get in front of out-of-state shop operators.

So, when publisher Chris Messer and I were invited to attend the Management Success! Fall Convention in Glendale, Calif., we jumped at the opportunity to meet many of the shop owners we have featured and potentially get inside a few shops. What we weren’t prepared for is just how many past feature subjects we’d meet at the convention.

We don’t always ask the shop leaders we interview whether they are involved with a consultant or business coach. We’re more concerned with the actual processes, improvements and performance of the facilities and how they can help advance other shops in the industry. But, because of the progressive nature of many of the operators we speak to, they usually don’t operate on an island. Many are affiliated with a consulting company, networking group, industry association or other entity to help them grow.

We were thrilled to be able to meet story subjects Steve Ek, Charley Wilson, Jim Saeli, Randy Bunn, Steve McNamara and others in person. All of these individuals have volunteered their time to speak with the staff of this new publication during its first year, helping us grow by sharing their expertise with fellow shop operators across the country. We were delighted to hear how valuable Ratchet+Wrench has been to them and their peers.

Outside of the convention, we also had the opportunity to tour a couple of shops that will undoubtedly find their way into future issues. And we visited new editorial advisory board member Scott Osborn’s mighty three-bay facility and got a first-hand peek at the vehicle inspection sheet that we wrote about in the June issue.

As you read this, the Ratchet+Wrench team is likely just getting back from SEMA and AAPEX, where, hopefully, we were able to meet even more of you. More chances to get into the industry are sure to follow as we continue to grow. So, if you’ve got a shop you think we need to see, drop me a line.

Maybe we can stop in when we’re out your way. 

Jake Weyer

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