Chehalis shop leads telematics charge
Chehalis, Wash.—Maximilian Motorsports is not a typical repair center, foremost because of its view on diagnostics and telematics. Owner Maximilian Macdonald said his approach to service, repair, and other services embraces technology and the potential that telematics has to offer.
“We are the first in the state to provide a device that can remotely allow us access to scan a customer’s vehicle and then communicate the findings,” Macdonald said, “letting the customer know how serious the problem is, possibly advising them that they should stop driving the vehicle, or simply telling them that it’s just an O2 sensor problem that can be replaced when convenient for them. Looking at fault codes remotely is vital to providing exceptional customer service.”
A vocal advocate for customer education and transparency, Macdonald said the shop will soon have a video that educates customers about the industry, proper vehicle care, and the telematics issues. “It’s expensive to be on the leading edge, but bi-lateral communication is the real answer.” He noted that the repair industry often has a “black-eye” about services performed, so he wants his customer base to fully understand what is involved. “We look to be transparent and actively involve the customer in the repair/service of their vehicle with leading edge technologies, all at a great value.”
Founded in Redmond, Wash., in 1993, Macdonald moved to his current four-acre site a year later in a rural area outside Chehalis. The 6,500-square-foot shop with seven bays has ample parking for customer and special project vehicles, he said.
While Maximilian Motorsports, a Bosch Car Service center, performs complete service and repair for all makes, including engine rebuilds or upgrades, it specializes in brands such as Alfa Romeo, Audi, BMW, Bentley, Ferrari, Land Rover, Lamborghini, Lotus, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, Porsche, Volkswagen, Volvo, and others. BMW vehicles are the most common brand serviced at the shop, Macdonald said.
“We have received vehicles from Nova Scotia, Canada to South America, but most customers are from between Seattle and Portland,” Macdonald said.
Fully one-third of the shop’s business involves diagnostic service and the four Bosch-certified technicians use a variety of tools, Macdonald said. “We use Bosch tools, an OTC scope, Launch Tech tools, Ross-Tech OE software for VW/Audi vehicles, and older factory tools, plus we have a tool cabinet filled with everything from ABS testers to older tools for vintage cars that we work on. Live data on a screen is vital for the work we provide on such a wide variety of vehicles, and in order to properly diagnose both older and newer vehicles, we need tooling that will allow us to capture the right data.”
Management software includes Mitchell 1 and Bolt-on Technology that can interface with diagnostic tools and provide the data needed, Macdonald said, as well as serve as quality management and business systems.
In order to maintain a high level of customer service and quality repairs, Macdonald said he encourages his staff to obtain a minimum of 40 hours per year of ongoing training. “Training includes an all-access pass to AVI OnDemand so techs have a variety of topics they can learn about from the comfort of home,” he said. Macdonald himself serves on a Bosch council where he said he continuously obtains education and technology data, and is an active member of the Southwest Washington Unit of ASA Northwest.
With an extensive background in automotive recycling, Macdonald said his shop is passionate about environmental practices. “We have been recognized by the State of Washington for being a green shop. We recycle cardboard, metals, auto parts, all chemicals and fluids, and can help customers reduce their carbon footprints, plus we have invited the state Labor & Industries agency into our shop to review our protocols. We are 9/10ths a paperless company.” Macdonald added that he has been a speaker at SEMA regarding environmental issues for shops.
While comprehensive service and repair are the trademark of Maximilian Motorsports, the company also provides re-purchase inspections, classic and custom car appraisals, and upholstery work, plus 20 percent of the company’s business each year involves race, custom, and restoration projects, with some having been featured in Auto Week magazine, Macdonald said.
“We recently finished a 1959 El Camino project, plus we work on a variety of race cars. I have built and raced rally cars, as well as other vehicles,” Macdonald said, adding that rally events are staged each year on an adjacent lot to his shop. A former participant in the Cannonball Run, in 2018 he will participate in the Alcan 5000 Rally (Seattle area to Fairbanks, Alaska) in a 1957 VW Beetle that he will restore for the journey.