Meet Frank Leutz: Auto shop owner & ‘force of nature’

Jazz musician, Navy vet, social media guru has led full life

Desert Car Care owner Frank Leutz works in his Chandler, Ariz. shop. (Photo by Mark Lipczynski)

CHANDLER, Ariz. – If you say Frank Leutz is a force of nature, you’d be accurate.

His energy never wavers. Never has. Never will.

Before becoming an extremely successful repair shop owner at Desert Car Care in Chandler, Ariz., Leutz served as a jazz salsa musician good enough to play Carnegie Hall.

While serving his country in the Navy, he did mine sweep operations in the Persian Gulf.

Today, you’ll see his engaging personality on social media. He frequently goes “live” on Facebook, providing a mixture of car care tips and entertaining banter.

It doesn’t take long to see why he’s been labeled affable and gregarious.

You see his bigger-than-life personality immediately in the words he chooses while describing his business philosophy.

“Fail fast and move quick to grow from those experiences while rocking the courage and opportunity that every single day is a new one as you lift up those on your squad,” Leutz said.

To be honest, it’s amazing how successful Leutz has become as a repair shop owner after he admits he possessed “no initial excitement” about a career in the automotive industry.

How did it all start?

Frank Leutz

Leutz joined the automotive industry when he got a job at a Chevy dealership, where he received “formal training.” A national buyout led to his dismissal and left him to decide whether he wanted to continue in the industry or return to “my musical roots,” Leutz said.

He elected to continue in auto repair – and he’s never looked back.

“I decided to open my first garage in 1995 with $6,000, lots of naivety and a vicious work ethic,” Leutz said.

That work ethic led Leutz to opening three locations in 2008. Two of those locations were later “profitably sold,” he said.

Let the awards begin…

Desert Car Care in Chandler, Ariz. (Photo by Mark Lipczynski)

His success has included winning a number of awards, including:

  • Best Places to Work (Phoenix Business Journal),
  • Small Business of the Year (Chandler Chamber of Commerce),
  • Top 10 Auto Repair by Ranking (Arizona Magazine),
  • Best of Chandler Auto Repair (East Valley Tribune), and
  • Community Impact Award (Youth World Project).

He’s also served:

  • As president of ASA’s Phoenix chapter,
  • A member of ASA’s national Mechanical Operations Committee,
  • On EVIT automotive and radio advisory boards, and
  • On TechForce (Arizona Workforce Development Council.)

His background

What’s especially interesting about Leutz is he truly started in the automotive industry with little or no business background.

Desert Car Care owner Frank Leutz (center) gathers with his staff. (Photo by Mark Lipczynski)

Leutz attended music and performing arts school in New York City.

A classically trained jazz trombonist, he performed with Tito Puente, Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, and Branford Marsalis.

He played at Carnegie Hall and on venues at Avery Fisher Hall and Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center.

Leutz became a member, along the way, of the Academy of Radio and TV Broadcasting.

He loves his job

Hearing how Leutz describes his love of his job in the auto repair industry gives more than a glimpse of his effervescent personality.

Desert Car Care in Chandler, Ariz. is touted as one of the best places to work in the Phoenix, Ariz. area. (Photo by Mark Lipczynski)

So here goes:

“What, Frank, do you like best about your job?”

“Human behavior and the ability to roll with the highs and lows of rescuing the oddball mechanical/repair ‘cat’ from the tree as a superhero,” Leutz said. “To then go directly in a burning forest of nuclear problem child vehicular mechanical conundrums and come out with solutions while putting profits in the bank.”

Well said…

“And what, Frank, makes your business unique, including marketing strategies?”

“We strategize to meet people where they are at with an emphasis on understanding particular market demos, related message, and the medium to execute and engage while giving a service experience that resembles one Tuba and a refined flute section in the key of life,” Leutz said.

And let the music play on.

Desert Car Care of Chandler, Ariz.
Square footage of business: 5,000
How many years in business: 23 (2 separate companies)
Number of employees when you first started & today: 4 & 7
Approximate number of repairs per week: 95
Projected annual sales volume: $1.7 million

Positives of ASA

Leutz said he joined ASA and continues to be a member of ASA because membership has played an integral role in his business success.

“The power and positive punch provided by real world, like-minded automotive service folks that pick up a phone and share experiences – good, bad or ugly – for the betterment of all,” Leutz said.

In addition, Leutz praised the efforts of ASA’s Washington, D.C. representative Robert L. Redding Jr.

ASA provides a “legal voice by way of a talented lobbyist who represents our collective industry interests every step of the way,” Leutz said.

The future

Future plans for his Arizona business are simple.

Workers inspect a vehicle at Desert Car Care Center in Chandler, Ariz. (Photo by Mark Lipczynski)

“Continue dominating our zip codes while slowly and methodically making other people better,” Leutz said.

If he could change one thing about his business, Leutz said it would be moving from a five to a four-day workweek.

“While maintaining trajectory towards $2 million sales target,” Leutz said.

Any advice?

For Leutz, his advice on being successful isn’t complicated.

“Trust that journey and do you,” he said, “while never forgetting to help out and share experiences with a fellow ASA member. Meet you there.”