How to Turn Your Passion Into Progress

July 3, 2019
A Phoenix shop owner shares how his involvement in his community helps create a strong shop culture.

Dave Martin began his career in the automotive industry at just 10 years old. His dad owned a full- service gas station, and Martin was brought into the business young. Throughout the years, Martin worked his way up to running the shop. 

Since buying out his dad, Martin has moved twice, gotten rid of the gas portion of the business, and now owns Martin’s Auto Repair in Phoenix.

Through incorporating his own experience living with spina bifida, Martin has a strong passion for getting involved and giving back, all while distilling those values onto his employees and running a successful $1.3 million shop.   

Make a conscious effort.

When Martin first began managing his employees at Martin’s Auto Repair, he had the leadership style of, “get out of my way, I’ll do it.” Quickly over the years, he came to the realization that the way he was leading his staff was not sustainable, and soon changed his approach. Martin came to the conclusion that more work can be done with more hands on deck.

He now trusts his employees to make decisions, and always has their backs when things go wrong. 

“I let other people make mistakes now,” he explains. 

Martin will also look for input from his employees, adding to his strong shop culture—which Martin says has been a large priority for him.

“It’s been a conscious effort for the last five years for me to change my culture and my shop,” he says. 

In order to create a stronger team atmosphere, Martin says he had to change his management style. He now holds weekly meetings with his staff, which has helped build a cohesive team.

“If someone has fallen down, we need to pick them up and help them,” he says.

Become a role model. 

Martin is involved with many associations and groups that give back. One of the organizations he is most dedicated to is the Spina Bifida of Arizona Association. Martin got involved around eight years ago and now sits on the board. 

“I joined the organization because I wanted to help, but also because I wanted to show parents that, ‘Hey, look, you got little kids [with spina bifida], it’s not the end of the world. It’s not a death sentence—there’s a lot of things they can still do,’” he says.

Martin wants to give the families more of a positive outlook on the condition. The organization hosts two large events during the year, and offers countless services to those with spina bifida in his community. He is also involved in organizations that give refurbished cars to those in need. 

Martin puts the events he and his shop are involved in in their newsletters and on social media, which aids in his community knowing more about him and his mission, beyond fixing cars.

“I believe that other people from the outside look at those things,” he says. 

Get your employees involved.

Although it is sometimes difficult to get staff with younger kids to the events Martin is involved in—because of their hectic schedules—his team is always willing to help. Martin’s technicians fix up and work on all the vehicles that they give out, and attend events when they can.

Martin and his outlook on giving back has greatly impacted his community and has helped shape the culture and attitude of his shop as a whole.  

“Who you are is how you treat other people,” Martin says.

Martin suggests other owners to start small when starting to give back, and to just get involved in one event. 

“Once they can begin to see the difference they are making, they’ll be hungry for more,” he says.  

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