Nov. 22, 2017—Devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey has afflicted thousands of business owners throughout the Houston area, and the automotive repair industry is no exception. So when a shop owner and friend of William Hillmuth III showed him images of his Houston shop ravaged by the hurricane, Hillmuth knew he needed to take action.
“He showed me a picture of his shop being completely overtaken by water,” said Hillmuth, chief marketing officer at Maryland-based Hillmuth Certified Automotive. “I’m thinking he’s out of work, other people are out of work, this is not good.”
Hillmuth started contacting representatives at the Automotive Training Institute (ATI) back in September to see how many of its clients were affected by the damage. He learned there were over a dozen shop owners in the Houston area who either were forced to close their shop, or were picking up the pieces from major damages and several lost weeks of work.
After speaking with members of ATI and the Council of Automotive Repairs, Hillmuth started a GoFundMe page to help the shop owners and their employees get back on their feet. He opened up the page in September, with a goal of raising $100,000 to those in the industry who needed it most.
After two months, Hillmuth has raised $2,500, and the initial proceeds raised will be sent to Mike and Patricia Kurtz of Century Automotive, whose shop was completely flooded. Mike plans to distribute the money to his employees, who lost out on three weeks of pay.
He recommends shop owners donate $100 toward the campaign, but says that donations of any amount are welcome.
“A hundred bucks here, 100 bucks there, it really adds up,” Hillmuth says.”Any donation is going to help.”
Hillmuth is also looking to put a panel together of several auto shop owners throughout the country to help him decide where the money should go. Depending on how much is raised and what members of his panel advice, Hillmuth says he’ll likely also give the donations to shop owners affected by Hurricane Irma.
To donate to the cause, you can visit https://www.gofundme.com/3zgk60.