Hi, I'm Debbie Nol, and I married a car guy. My 14 years of working at Arie Nol Auto Center has been an incredible journey, building amazing relationships with customers and learning so much from our experienced technicians.
Now I'm launching a blog to share what I've learned about cars and some of my most memorable customer stories. Hopefully you will find my blog both helpful and entertaining!
Grand Rapids is the home to many family-owned businesses. I feel really fortunate to work with my husband and son daily. It is rare to enter our business and not interact with a Nol family member. Most people that have been in our business eventually figure out the familial relationships.
January 1, 2017 was the beginning of the new year as well as Arie Nol Auto Center’s 41 st anniversary. When Arie Nol opened his business in 1976, there were very few repair facilities that worked on the imported vehicles that had started to be more prevalent in the American car market. Coming from the Netherlands and working for Porsche in California, Arie had a lot of experience working on European vehicles.
One of the biggest compliments we can get as a business is about how we made someone feel when they were in our facility. We pride ourselves on the repairs and maintenance that we perform. We appreciate that we can partner with our customers to keep their mode of transportation running, so they can accomplish their day-to- day obligations.
It’s summer time in Michigan! Beaches, barbeques and road trips. There are also a lot of car shows. A LOT of car shows.
Arie Nol opened Arie Nol Auto Center in 1976. It had a small office with two bays attached. The building had been a former gas station and, according to someone who had grown up in the area, a florist shop at one time.
The road was two lanes, no CVS pharmacy and there were two gas stations. Many of the strip malls that are here now did not exist.
Jeff was still in high school but would join the business as a full-time employee when he finished two years of college. Arie added an additional bay at that time. It was a time of no computers, one phone line, and vehicles were not nearly as technical as they are now. The answering machine was a cutting edge business tool.
It’s interesting to think back on that time as we celebrate our 40th anniversary this year. It is still a family- owned and operated business that takes pride in personal service and customer satisfaction. We have built relationships that span three generations. Cameron is the 3rd generation of the Nol family to work here. He is occasionally called “the new Jeff.” We have a customer that remembers coming to the United States from the Netherlands about the same time Arie did, stopping in for coffee and donuts, and another customer that remembers coming here with her parents as they brought their “new driver” in to get acquainted with us for automobile maintenance.
We fast forward to 2016, a much faster paced world with constantly changing technology. Our goal is to retain the values of integrity and fair pricing and build relationships with customers while continuing to provide excellent automotive repair and maintenance. We look forward to celebrating our anniversary this year and want to say “Thank you!” to all of the customers over the years that have placed their trust in us.
This is what I found when I was searching for a quote for the sign in front of our business. I found two other quotes that I thought would be good and they are now up, and hopefully a little inspiring. But the “Page 1 of 365” stuck with me.
I'm a list maker and goal setter. I have the plan laid out for the year. And I’m old enough to know that most items won't go according to plan, but yet, I still have a guideline and goals.
Every year right about now, we start evaluating what we can do to improve as a business in the upcoming year. We have discussions with our technicians about training. We send our technicians to classes both in Grand Rapids and also out-of-state. That requires planning so we look at what we need to accomplish in the upcoming year. We also look at tools and equipment. What do we need? Customer service. How can we improve? We constantly evaluate, but the beginning of the new year causes you to take a look and set some goals.
Realistically, long range plans are good. But the reality is the old adage, when you are busy making plans, life happens. It's a great idea to have resolutions. Lose weight, get healthy, stop smoking, be positive, work harder, work less. Get your car’s oil changed on time. Don't ignore the maintenance needed light on your dashboard.
I plan to remember, in the middle of the goal setting and resolutions, that Friday, January 1, is “Page 1 of the 365” days before me. Enjoy that day and while striving for my goals, I'm also going to enjoy “Page 1.”
There are many slogans in support of utilizing local business. Shop local. Eat local. Locovore.
My Dad owned his own business. My husband grew up in the small business we now own. My children all worked in our business and now work for family-owned or small businesses here in Grand Rapids. I've grown up knowing the impact of 'shop local'.
Grand Rapids is blessed with so many small businesses. From furniture making to restaurants, we have some of the best. Our service industry is also full of electricians, plumbers, auto and collision repair. Many of the local business commercials on TV highlight the fact that they are family owned and operated. Some of the places have grown to sell nationally and internationally. Meijer, GFS, Amway, Steelcase etc. all started as local businesses.
Why does this matter? Anyone can read the statistics about the impact shopping local has on the economy of your area. To me, it's personal. We pay our employees who then purchase goods and services in our area. When we as a company are able to use a local supplier or service provider, which is always our first choice.
We are fortunate to share our experiences with customers who start their own business. A coffee roaster that makes a difference, a new janitorial company that is committed to impacting others positively. Watching these people achieve their dream and make our area an even better place to live is a bonus.
As we approach the holidays, keep the ‘shop local’ slogan in mind. Supporting community and giving back is what Grand Rapids is built on.