Continuing a Legacy

April 1, 2015
How second-generation operator Andy Massoll continues to grow the family business

Andy Massoll has been around cars his entire life. His father, Curt, officially started the family business out of a Sunoco station in 1981 after working out of his garage for a year, and ever since, Curt’s Service has never decreased in sales year-over-year and has blossomed into one of the most successful repair shops in the metro Detroit area. 

Andy serves as an operator and part owner for Curt’s Service, where he says that he serves the company better by running the business than turning a wrench. 

Growing up as a kid, everyone asks you what you want to do when you get older. I would say, ‘I want to work with my dad in his shop.’ My first memory in the shop is walking around and picking up ball bearings off the floor and putting them in a cup. You start cleaning the shop, then you learn how to change oil, tires, and eventually become immersed in the culture. 

 I went to Northwood University after high school. I left after a year to come home and help work in the business because the business and the family where going through crisis.  Being three hours away, I felt that I couldn’t help either situation and decided to go to school locally and help out in the shop.

It didn’t pan out with a full school load and a full-time work schedule, so in 2001 I had made the choice to not continue my college education. I wasn’t the most scholastic person, but I still continued to pursue a “higher education” by getting my Automotive Service Excellence master technician certification. I gained that by the time I was 21, and once I became ASE certified, I worked as a tech for a few years and then started transitioning to the office and answering the phone. 

“It feels really good to be able to continue the legacy my father started.

I remember having a revelation one day when my father was on vacation. I was service advising as well as being a technician in the shop when he was gone.

Some of the techs didn’t show up on time that day, I was helping a customer with a “no appointment waiter” oil change and the phone was ringing; at this moment I thought to myself, ‘I can only do so much, there has to be a better way, what is the best thing I can do for this business?’ I stopped changing the oil, apologized to the customer and explained we were having some delays and told them it’s going to be a little longer than normal… I had one hand in the toolbox and one on the phone, and thought, ‘this isn’t the best thing I can do for the business, and until it is, I don’t want to do this again.’ 

It was this funny (now) situation, lightbulb-in-my-head moment where I concentrated on the service side of the business and stopped wrenching on cars almost completely—we had really talented guys for that—so then I focused on being the best service advisor I could, and eventually became a manager. 

It feels really good to be able to continue the legacy my father started. He started the business in 1981. His dad was an engineer at Chrysler, and he helped my father get his business rolling when he started. My father has always worked very hard, and at heart he truly ‘likes’ being a technician, he is a doer. My brother Keith also grew up in the business and when he turned nineteen he joined the family business on a full-time basis.  Currently Keith is the shop foreman and he loves the complexity of managing the schedule for nine techs. 

Of course there is the expected dynamic that families have when they work together, and even though our views may differ at times on daily operations, we all realize we can’t manage this the same way now as when it was a three-bay gas station or even a seven-bay shop. It’s now a 14-bay operation, and requires a whole different approach. 

Both my father and I have been environmentally conscious. It was cost-effective enough to be a feasible option with our new expansion, so why wouldn’t we want to be more sustainable for the future? We both have electric vehicle charging stations, and currently drive Chevy Volts. “It’s a feather in your cap,” Curt says. 

Some people seek you out because you are green and environmentally conscious. It reflects the progressive thinking of the shop, and signifies that we’re going to be around for the long run. Throughout the shop we have talking points on signs of all the green features. People are impressed by it and it has led to a lot of publicity. We keep a very clean, very professional, and very organized shop; customers and employees notice and appreciate the difference.

“We keep a very clean, very professional, and very organized shop. Customers and employees notice and appreciate the difference.”
—Andy Massoll, general manager, Curt’s Service

I can’t stress enough the importance of investing in people. Everyone knows good techs are very hard to find, especially right now, but so are good service advisors, parts advisors, managers and even porters. Good people need to be rewarded appropriately for their efforts. As an operator you need a pay plan and a career path to put your people in a position to excel and grow with and alongside you and your business. 

We spend an exorbitant amount of money on training (on-site and off-site), as well as employee benefits such as health insurance, matching dollars on retirement plans, and uniforms to name a few. We maintain generous PTO, TPO (Training Paid Off), HPO (Holiday Paid Off) and new this year, VPO (Volunteer Paid Off) benefits. The VPO allocates a defined number of hours per year that each employee is required to volunteer in our local community.  

My father and I also invest in ourselves and our business by being active members in two different 20 Groups: IAP 20 (Import Automotive Professionals) and GLAMC (Great Lakes Automotive Management Council). The groups have given us invaluable understanding of our business and essential accountability. 

Investing in the industry we all engage in is also critical. Currently as a part of the Bosch Car Service Council as well as the board for Auto Care Association, I receive frontline insight into the issues our industry is dealing with as well as having the opportunity to help be a part of the solution. If we aren’t investing in people and ourselves then we are in serious trouble as a business and an industry. 

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