For success, St. Louis shop combines old-school integrity with ‘new school’ technologies
St. Louis, MO--In its nearly 40 years of business, Marty’s Auto Shop has experienced everything from name changes, location changes, and a 1984 shop explosion to a transition from an old-school Sinclair service station with a repair component to a modern full-service repair facility and neighborhood business anchor. And in the process, it has successfully transferred ownership and management from one generation to the next.
Founded in 1977 by Martin “Marty” Jungewaelter Jr. and owned and run today by his three sons, Rick, Gary, and Martin III (also Marty), Marty’s Auto Shop, in its 2,000-square-foot, nine-bay facility on busy Gravois Road just south of St. Louis’ southern city limit, offers customers a one-stop resource for automotive care, including diagnostics, underhood and undercar maintenance, engine and transmission service, electrical work, and towing.
In fact, except for body work, the shop “does nearly everything that’s automotive-related,” Rick Jungewaelter said. And although it isn’t a large part of the shop’s business, for a few regular customers the shop also services, repairs, and occasionally helps build collector cars, hot rods, and other performance vehicles, Jungewaelter said.
But “it’s pretty much general auto repair for us,” he added, noting that Marty’s is both a CARQUEST TechNet shop — something the shop has been “for a long time” — and an O’Reilly Auto Parts Certified Auto Repair shop.
To manage the shop, Jungewaelter said he and his brothers each focus on specific areas of the business. He “pretty much runs the shop,” including finances and payroll, Jungewaelter said. Marty serves as the resident diagnostics expert, and Gary focuses on undercar work. In addition, technician Scott Stephan “does the heavies” —cylinder heads, engine and transmission rebuilds, and differential work — while Corey Jungewaelter, Gary’s son, is learning the business from the bottom up. “Except for Corey, everybody’s got more than 20 years in the business,” Jungewaelter said.
Old school and ‘new school’
Jungewaelter said equipment in the shop’s bays includes Benwil and Challenger lifts, Snap-on tools, scanners from OTC, Genesis, Encore, Mastertech, Bosch, and VCI, and CEMB alignment equipment.
“We even have two drive-on racks, which have been here since the 1940s when this location was established as Align Right,” he said. “You don’t see racks like those any more. It’s old school. You drive onto the racks and get underneath them.”
Returning to the “new school” department, Jungewaelter said the shop uses AllData for service and repair information and QuickBooks for processing the shop’s financial information. Parts suppliers, in addition to O’Reilly’s and CARQUEST, include South County Auto Parts and, for tires, U.S. AutoForce.
Regardless of the source, a quality product and prompt delivery are key factors in choosing a supplier, Jungewaelter said.
“I don’t want to be waiting for hours for my parts to get here,” he said. “My customers want their cars in, they want them out. They don’t want to wait a day or two for their car to be fixed.”
Jungewaelter said the shop works on the range of cars typically found on the road today, from economy and budget models to Cadillacs and other high-end vehicles.
“We don’t get into the big, expensive Europeans like BMWs or Mercedes,” he said. “Volkswagen has its own breed of tools and everything for them, so we really don’t do too much with them, either. But we’re willing to work on whatever comes in. If it’s something I can’t fix, I’ll recommend the customer take it straight to the dealer.”
Dealing with ‘new school’ technology
As for the diagnostic issues the shop encounters, they run the gamut, says Rick’s brother Marty, an ASE L1 tech and the shop’s principal diagnostics technician.
When it comes to diagnostics, “we go from A to Z, from cars that quit running once every three weeks to cars that don’t start every two weeks because of a dead battery/charge/instrument problem. It’s endless,” Marty Jungewaelter said.
Jungewaelter, who has been an instructor for Snap-on and also has served on the automotive technology board at Jefferson Community College, said he enjoys the challenge of working on such cars, but, admittedly, it can be a headache, too.
When it does become a headache, Jungewaelter said he turns not only to typical sources such as iATN, but also to his automotive colleagues in St. Louis, who may be able to offer good advice when you’re temporarily at your wit’s end.
“We try to help each other,” he said.
Marty’s Auto Shop has a website, but many of the shop’s customers have been part of the business for years, and the shop’s best form of advertising is simply handling those customers with integrity and honesty, because they in turn refer their families, friends, and neighbors to the shop, Rick Jungewaelter said.
While potential customers can check customer reviews online, “to me, online is not very personable,” he said. “To understand what a business is actually doing, go and see them.”
In the long term, he added, the old rule applies: Be honest with your customers, because “that’s what keeps them coming back.”