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  Shop Profile

Father, Son Busy Growing Shops

Posted 5/1/2008
By Levy Joffrian

Sure, their 72-year-old shop in Cincinnati has a little bit of an obstacle, but this father-son team isn’t letting that slow them down.

Shop Stats

Name: Ulmer’s Auto Care
Locations: Cincinnati and Milford, Ohio
Web site: www.ulmersautocare.com
Square footage of shop: Cincinnati – 3,696 square feet; Milford – 4,150 square feet
Repairs per week: Cincinnati – 160 cars; Milford – 50 cars
No. of years in business: 72 years
Some things Bryan considers as a plus: “The fact there is an owner present at each of our two locations gives us the ability to review what happens in our operations day to day. Also, our quarterly newsletter and consistent marketing plan have been instrumental in our success. Our goal is to show up in our customer’s mailbox at least two times per month. Our complimentary loaner car program is very important to our customers as well.”

The team at Ulmer's Auto Care, Cincinnati, OH
The team at Ulmer’s Auto Care in Cincinnati includes, from left: Tom Steele, Bryan Kauffeld, Ron Wierwille, Alex Quiroz, Fred Berlund, Jeff Howell, Keith Berry, Jason Coulter and Dan Wierwille. Not available for photo, but part of that shop’s team, is Tessie Neel, a customer service representative. The main part of the shop they are standing in front of has three bays; rest of shop, down the street, has two bays.
You might think Greg Kauffeld and his son, Bryan, have a lot going against them in one of their two shops in Ohio. But the two are enjoying tremendous success. Sales volume and car count have doubled in the past seven years.

And for that, they give a lot of credit for the excellent training and coaching they have received from Jim Murphy of Elite Pro Service and George Zabrecky of Nwzworx.

What’s going against them is the fact that their main shop – in Cincinnati – is separated by a strip shopping mall. In spite of that handicap, they’re making it work.

Their Cincinnati shop – which is 72 years old – projects it will do $1.9 million in sales this year. The other shop – only five years old and in Milford, a suburb about 20 miles from the Cincinnati location – expects to do $750,000 in sales this year.

Greg & Bryan Kauffield
Greg and Bryan Kauffeld, the
father-son team that makes Ulmer’s go.
It all started when Greg, as a youth just 16 years old, went to work for Ulmer’s Auto Care in Cincinnati. Ulmer’s at that time was a two-bay Sohio gas station. It opened in 1936, so it had already been around for 39 years when Greg joined the team.

Greg initially pumped gas and did basic maintenance on vehicles. But by the time he was 22, he was ready to try his wings. He bought the business in 1981 from Bruce Ulmer, his boss at the time.

He expanded the business from two bays to five bays in 1990.  And in 2002, he recruited his son to join him in the business. Bryan graduated that year from Purdue University with a bachelor of science degree in management and finance. Greg offered Bryan a job and a promise to expand and open a new location within a year of being onboard. The second location, in Milford, opened in February of 2003.

Why the Kauffelds Are ASA Members

“We joined ASA to become part of an organization with similar interests and to stay on the cutting edge of our industry.

“The ability to network with such a large group of top shops throughout the country is very important.”
Bryan Kauffeld

Greg runs Ulmer’s Auto Care in Milford, and Bryan is in charge of Ulmer’s Auto Care in Cincinnati.

If they could change one thing about their business, they said they would prefer to have everything at the Cincinnati location under one roof with extra space for storage and more parking. It’s definitely a little bit of a handicap to have that shopping mall separate the business, says Bryan. There are two bays on one side of the strip mall and three bays on the other side. 

“We do a lot of walking between the two facilities,” says Bryan. “I bet there’s one of us going over to the other facility every five minutes. We have to cross a street, then walk across the shopping center parking lot, and pass a pizza parlor, hardware store and barbershop before we’re on the parking lot of the other facility. Sure, it’s counterproductive, but we make it work.”

There are 11 employees at the Cincinnati location and four employees in Milford.

Bryan is the service adviser for the Cincinnati location and his father is a technician at the Milford shop.

Both shops are AAA-approved auto repair centers, Bosch Service Centers,  ACDelco Total Service Support shops, and ASE Blue Seal of Excellence shops. Both shops also have Valvoline Quick Lube operations.

Here’s the other part of the shop in Cincinnati. It’s across a street and just past a strip shopping center from the main part of the shop.

Ulmer’s Auto Care “provides service beyond compare.” Bryan says, “This is our tagline and we truly live by it. Customer satisfaction is our top priority at Ulmer’s, and we could not service the customer as well as we do without our excellent team of employees.”

Bryan says their business philosophy is to surround themselves with the best people possible. “We employ only the highest quality people and we are able to keep them committed to the team by offering them great compensation packages, the best benefits in the industry, state-of-the-art equipment and a friendly work environment,” says Bryan. “Our technicians are highly trained ASE-certified specialists who work on all makes and models, both import and domestic.”

Asked in what ways he and his dad are alike and in what ways they differ, Bryan says “we’re carbon copies; we’re both very driven and very competitive.” They differ in that Bryan is more of a people, person and his dad is more the technician type. “Dad prefers the technical side of the business, although he does very well no matter what position he may be filling on any given day,” says Bryan. “I love dealing with people. Although people are sometimes difficult, the majority of our customers are a pleasure to do business with and are truly appreciative of our service. A happy customer makes a great day.”

The staff at Ulmer’s Auto Care in Milford includes, from left: Fred Shroeder, Darrell Smithson and Jason Loehner. Not in photo, but also part of the Milford team, is Greg Kauffeld, the owner of Ulmer’s Auto Care.

Do the two ever “talk shop?” “Oh yeah,” says Bryan, “Every day.”

Both Bryan and his father are former Bottom Line Impact Group members. When their coach, Jim Murphy, joined Elite Pro Service, they joined Elite as well. As pointed out above, they also give a great deal of credit for their success to George Zebrecky and his organization, Nwzworx.

“All of our superb coaching and training have really paid off,” says Bryan. “Eighty thousand dollars in sales was the largest month we ever had before joining those organizations, and in just seven years, we’ve doubled that.”

What’s ahead for Ulmer’s Auto Care? “We plan to expand our Cincinnati location in the near future and will certainly entertain the thought of a third location,” says Bryan.


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