Remembering Don Seyfer: A Good Man Who Made a Difference

An ASA member since 1963, Don was well-known in the automotive service industry for his involvement and volunteer work at both the state and national levels.
Don Seyfer

Don Seyfer, 1941-2020

WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. – Don Seyfer, owner of Seyfer Automotive, passed away peacefully on June 3 surrounded by family.

Although many of the younger members of the automotive service industry may not recognize his name, he was one of the leaders who impacted their lives and the lives of many others.

He was outgoing, but not ostentatious, and worked to make our industry better throughout his long career.

Don had his flaws, as we all do, but he never let anything get in the way of his commitment to excellence and professionalism.


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Don walked the talk and was, by any measure, a good man.

While those of us who knew Don are diminished by his passing, we are stronger for having known him, and in recognition of his lifetime of dedication to the Automotive Service Association and the industry he loved, we thought it appropriate to share his story.

ASA member since 1963

An ASA member since 1963, Don was well-known in the automotive service industry for his involvement and volunteer work at both the state and national levels. He served as ASA’s Mechanical Division Director from 1990-94; was a founding member of the Automotive Management Institute (AMi) in 1989 and was among the first to achieve Accredited Automotive Manager (AAM) status. As a volunteer leader, Don served as ASA Colorado state president for six years and was a member of the Automotive Hall of Fame.

His most recent recognition was receiving the ASA Chairman’s Award of Excellence in 2016. That award was presented to Don by his son, Donny, who followed in his father’s footsteps as chairman of ASA. When it came to volunteering to advance the independent repair shop community, it was and remains a family affair.

ASA chairman remembers Don Seyfer

Bob Wills

“I first met Don at an ASA Annual meeting,” said Bob Wills, current ASA Chairman and shop owner in Battlecreek, Mich. “I was new to ASA at that time and he introduced himself and said, ‘Welcome to ASA.’ Don was an outgoing person who was always generous with his time in volunteering to serve the industry he loved … and served on the ASA board. A friend to many, Don enjoyed his business and mentoring his son, Donny, who also served as ASA Chairman. Don was a proud man and a man to be proud of. He will be missed, and I speak for many in thanking Don and his family for giving so much to our industry.”

Perhaps the best way to remember Don and honor his service to our industry is to look back and quote him directly. He was, for example, a champion of the need for training and served as the Chairman of the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) in 1996. When elected, he said “Technician education is extremely important at this time, both entry-level and in-service. I am honored to be in a position to help that education.”

Don Seyfer ‘no stranger’ to ASA

Don was no stranger to volunteering his time to ASA. He served as Mechanical Division Director and at every position on the AS Board of Directors.

When Don was elected to Chairman of ASA, also in 1996, he began his first message to the members by saying “My turn at the wheel of this magnificent ASA machine has finally come. I am very proud of it. ASA members far and wide have toiled for many years to bring it to its excellent level of performance. I steer my work with the Association toward maintaining this excellence and pushing to achieve even greater levels of service to the industry. It continues to be quite a journey.”

He concluded those remarks with the words “Your ability to operate a successful business is directly related to the education and training you take advantage of. Technical and business challenges are more demanding now than they have ever been. Be receptive to all the wonderful people who want to fill your head with knowledge.”

Founding member of AMi

As stated earlier, Don walked the talk, and he realized words without action to back them up were meaningless. To that end, he again lent his wisdom, effort and treasure as a founding member of AMi to ensure that the management training he knew shop owners needed would be available long into the future. He then led by example by being one of the first shop owners to achieve AAM status.

But perhaps Don’s greatest contribution to the industry was his example. He believed fiercely in professionalism and found peers at ASA.

“When talking to ASA members –anywhere – I have found that several attributes are presented loud and clear,” he said. “ASA members are true professionals who are well-informed, caring and positive. It’s these attributes that define the quality of ASA members, and these attributes that push us forward.”

Finding excellence

And it wasn’t just ASA where Don found excellence.

He wrote often of his support for the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), NATEF, I-CAR, and other organizations with the mission to inform, improve and train technicians and shop owners now and for the future.

In this, Don was more visionary than even he knew at the time, as he wrote in September, 1996, “Often the focus is on training our employees, but let’s not overlook the role owners and managers play in finding and keeping quality entry-level technicians. Like myself, you may be a generation or two from many of the people you hire. Shop owners, ask yourself: How do you deal with differences?”

From making sure all of his technicians were ASE certified to continuously promoting the value of associations and ongoing training, Don served as a role model for many shop owners, both older and younger.

Simple advice

His advice could be simple: “Success or failure can be determined by five words – I Don’t Have the Time!” Or more nuanced: “When we give of our creativity, we become more creative. When we serve others and do our best, we’re promoting ourselves from within.”

Don readily shared his wisdom with many over the years, including a young technical editor at Motor Age magazine who learned a lot about the industry, but perhaps even more about how to be a good man.

In his last editorial as ASA Chairman in AutoInc in March of 1997, Don summed up his tenure in these words: “Accomplishments are important. Who made them is not. Many issues are on the table and many more are coming. We all need to stand and be counted. We need to forget petty differences and unite as an industry to realize our goals and mission. I am a firm believer that new volunteer leaders will improve the ASA process and bring with them unique and fresh ideas. I feel confident in turning over the wheel. Thank you for allowing me to drive for a while.”

Don Seyfer worked for ‘our industry’

Whether or not you knew Don, all of us benefited from his work on behalf of our industry. Someone once said that the measure of a man is not in the wealth or power he accumulates, but in the number of lives he touches that are left better because of the meeting. In this, Don has left behind a legacy of honor, service and integrity.

He was, simply, a good man.

Vaya con Dios, Don.

You will be missed and remembered.


Tony Molla is vice president, Industry Relations, for the Automotive Service Association.


 

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