Giving Something Back
Education has paid off for Gene Morrill, so he's busy giving something back.
Education has paid off for Gene Morrill. So now he's giving something back - to his employees, customers, community and youngsters aspiring to a career in the auto industry.
Gene is the owner of Certified Automotive Specialists in Glendora, Calif., an upscale community of about 52,000 people 25 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.
He knows what education has done for him.
It all started when he received a $50 scholarship from his high school auto shop teacher to attend Citrus Community College. His first semester, he was hired by Certified Automotive Specialists. It was owned by three of the college's professors, who had started the company in 1978.
Gene graduated from Citrus College with a degree in automotive technology. He continued working for Certified Automotive Specialists, but was invited to join the college staff as a part-time instructor.
After a few years of working all day and teaching at night, he bought the business. Along with his business partner and wife, Robin, he took on the shop in 1983 with high hopes.
Certified Automotive Specialists was a small shop. It had 1,000 square feet of floor space, four bays and two employees.
But Gene worked hard and the company expanded. He was so busy "minding the store," though, that he quit teaching and going to training classes. After years of plugging along just making a living and surviving the ups and downs of the auto repair business, he realized that although he was an ASE master technician, he had no management training.
He enrolled in every class he could find. He joined the Automotive Service Association and Automotive Service Councils of California and found bigger, better shops to go to for advice. He also earned an Accredited Automotive Manager (AAM) designation from the Automotive Management Institute (AMI).
"It was no overnight fix," says Gene. "It has taken years of gaining knowledge and educating myself and employees."
But Gene has seen the benefits of education.
The small shop he acquired now has 7,800 square feet of floor space, 20 bays and 12 employees. It's affording Gene and Robin a good living, less stress and more time off.
Realizing the importance of education, he requires each employee to be ASE certified. Employees also must complete eight hours of continuing education each quarter.
And, "walking the walk as well as talking the talk," Gene is continuing his own education.
He also gives back to the community by educating others. Gene writes automotive information articles for the local newspaper and is back teaching part time at Citrus College. "I am committed to giving something back by encouraging and educating young people about our industry, as well as doing what I can for the community and especially our customers," says Gene.
He's involved in the community on other levels, too. He's president of the Glendora Rotary Club and is a member of the Government Affairs Committee of the Glendora Chamber of Commerce. He's also politically involved.
Gene and Robin have found three keys to success:
1. Employees. "They are our first priority," says Gene. "You should trust them, train them and compensate them well."
2. Customers are "king" and will be best served if you take care of your employees.
3. The company benefits when the first two keys are performed well.
Gene and Robin believe the basics never change. You must be courteous in dealing with customers, and you must listen to your customers'concerns. You also must deliver what you promise. But most of all, you must have passion and enjoy what you do. "In other words," says Gene, "be professional."
He also believes the best thing he has done is going back to the premise on which the business was founded: knowledge and education.
It's paying off.
Name: Certified Automotive Specialists
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