My Journey Toward Car Literacy

I Married A Car Guy: My Journey Toward Car Literacy

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!

Articles:

A Woman In Auto Care

A Woman In Auto Care

Last year I had someone approach me to see if I would be interested in attending a leadership conference in Indianapolis for the Women in Auto Care. I had heard of this group over the years, but I hadn’t pursued learning more about them. The group’s focus is on industry insights, networking, and professional development. I have since attended that conference, as well as their winter leadership conference this past month. Many of the conferences and trainings Jeff and I attend are geared towards shop owners. The Women in Auto Care conference is geared towards women working in the automotive industry aftermarket. The speakers were amazing and I walked away feeling like I had learned about what is happening in the automotive industry, with a renewed opportunity to improve my skills as a business owner. Women share their experiences and expertise in their positions working in development, sales, logistics, engineering, technicians, etc. The Women in Auto Care also f ... read more

I Saw the Sign

I Saw the Sign

“I love your sign!” This is a sentence we hear a lot. And we love it! This is our own little piece of the world on the corner of 52nd and Eastern in Grand Rapids. We are fortunate to have a lot of traffic passing our business every day. From the standpoint of business visibility, etc, it's a great spot. When Arie Nol purchased the property in 1976, there wasn't much out here. It was the edge of Grand Rapids. The ’burbs. Having the ability to impact so many people every day is kind of fun. We made the decision 15 years ago, when we erected the new sign, to not put anything up but quotes, puns or something inspirational. At first it was tempting to place ‘specials’ on the sign. Where we missing a huge opportunity to reach potential customers? Maybe. As a small business owner, it's natural to revisit decisions to see if they were good ones. The unexpected aspect of our sign is how much enjoyment WE get out of it. Having someone that is not a customer come i ... read more

A Lasting Legacy

A Lasting Legacy

Cameron was only three months old when his grandfather, Arie Nol, the founder of our business, passed away. Cameron has no memories of his own but he has heard many other people’s memories of Arie. While working here, he has the unique opportunity to talk to people that worked with his grandfather or have customers share their stories about Arie. Arie loved what he did and shared his passion for cars with many people. He also loved people and enjoyed helping them and sharing his knowledge to enable them to keep their vehicles in safe condition. Even though Arie has been gone for almost twenty-five years, we still hear the stories of how he impacted people’s lives. Cameron has been able to hear stories about his grandfather negotiating with vendors who’ve since retired but stop in to say “HI.” On occasion, he’s heard stories from people that shared how they had to deal with Arie after they caused damage to the family car by ignoring needed maintenance or driving ... read more

Job Shadowing Opportunity

Job Shadowing Opportunity

There has been a lot of talk about the automotive technician shortage. If you don’t work in a trade, you may not be aware of how few students currently enter a trade field. The push for a college degree is important but not all high school students need to pursue a degree to achieve their goals. If your son or daughter likes to disassemble items to see how they work, hopefully they'll have the opportunity to use that skill in their job if that's what they enjoy. Being a naturally technical person is a gift. One I don't have but I watch it in action day-after- day. Most of the trades require post high school education. There are very few jobs you can walk into without some type of training in this day and age. We were fortunate to be asked to have a student from a local high school job shadow with us for part of a day. It's a great opportunity for all of us to share what we love about this business as well as give someone the opportunity to see what ‘a day in the life of ... read more

The Fitbit And Your Car Battery

The Fitbit And Your Car Battery

I have a Fitbit that I may be mildly obsessed with. It was charging one day and I left the house and arrived at work without it. Walking anywhere seemed so pointless. No steps counted. No way to tell if I was going to make my 250 steps every hour that day. Did I even sleep well the night before? My Fitbit wasn’t there to tell me. I’d like to admit I’m exaggerating but I’m not. We have several scanners that have the capability to let us know the health of certain parts of your vehicle. One of these that’s very important is your car battery health. I like seeing the printout from a battery test, especially when it’s bad. It shows the voltage and rates the battery’s health. Here’s my reasoning. It’s cold out. Having your battery fail in Michigan in February will probably be miserable. You could have avoided this by having your battery tested periodically. It doesn’t take long and it’s painless. Finding out that your battery is weak is an opportunity to say, “Hey, I ... read more

This Isn’t Your Grandparents Car

This Isn’t Your Grandparents Car

There was a time when car owners brought their vehicle in for a grease job and an oil change. You also made sure that your car was ‘tuned up’. You might also have needed your carburetor adjusted. Those services are no longer needed on the newer vehicles. Why? There are several reasons. A tune-up consisted of replacing spark plugs, wires and checking the distributor. Today's vehicles no longer have wires or a distributor, thanks to a direct ignition system. The spark plugs that previously had copper tips now have iridium tips, which last thousands more miles than their predecessors. We also have fuel injection which makes the carburetor obsolete. You needed a grease job because some of your suspension parts needed to be greased on a regular basis. That's not true of most anymore. They essentially don't have to be greased because they have more of a closed system that doesn't allow you to insert grease. They're ‘pregreased’. Pre-greased is not an actual ‘automotiv ... read more

Get To Know Your Technician - Ken

Get To Know Your Technician - Ken

Ken joined our team bringing a lot of experience as an ASE certified technician with twenty-four years of experience at dealerships and several years as an independent. Ken is our Volkswagen and Audi go-to guy. He enjoys working on German vehicles the most. I have learned a lot from him as he is very adept at explaining what transpired as a vehicle part was failing. I sat in Ken’s bay and peppered him with questions for this blog post. What is your favorite car – R129 Mercedes Benz SL from the 90’s. Why? They can be purchased reasonably and they are a beautiful car. Favorite thing to do when you’re not working? I sing in ‘Hark Up.’ I’m a bass singer and play bass, acoustic and electric guitar. My family, including my wife Mary, my two sons, and my daughter, enjoy going to Whitecaps baseball games as well. Why did you become a technician? – My first car was a 1972 Chevy Nova SS that was a “hunk of garbage” and I learned to work on that to keep it ... read more

Northern Drivers

Northern Drivers

Jeff and I just returned from the south. We drove my dad’s car to Florida and had the distinct pleasure of driving through the aftermath of Storm Helena. I still haven't decided if it was our most intelligent move but, I'll leave that thought alone. I learned several things on this trip. Firstly, windshield wipers, batteries and tires. I've blogged often about these things but the truth is, they really, really mattered on this trip. Secondly, Michigan snowplowers have amazing, incredible road clearing capabilities. Hats off to the plow drivers that keep our roads cleaned. I've always been thankful but have hit a new level of appreciation. I also will (probably) never laugh at a southern storm meme again. They don't have the equipment or driving skills. That's why they live in those states. They don't usually need them. Most of the people wisely stayed off the roads as they were told too. It was us, semitruck drivers, and some diehard Clemson fans with their flags waving ... read more

Happy anniversary (to us)!

Happy anniversary (to us)!

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. The timing was perfect and he could fulfill his dream of opening his own business. He opened his two- bay shop in the same location we currently occupy. Jeff worked part time until 1980 when he joined his Dad full time at the family business. It’s amazing to look back and see where we started and see how the business has grown. Arie laid the ground work for the business that exists today. We still have customers that come in and talk about Arie working on their vehicle. He was known for being blunt with his customers. He took car repairs and maintenance ser ... read more

Respect the Tow Trucks

Respect the Tow Trucks

We repair vehicles here and—on occasion—they need to be towed to us for repairs. Before I started working here, I had never really thought about what a tow truck driver does unless I needed one. I now have a lot more appreciation for them than I did in the past. These are the people that tow you out of the ditch in the worst weather, jump start your vehicle if your battery has failed and clear the road after an accident. I’ve been on the phone with someone that has just hit a curb during a snow storm and they’re waiting for the tow truck to come and bring the vehicle to us. When the driver arrives, they very efficiently handle the situation. To the car owner it may have seemed like a long wait, but in bad weather and with lots of people driving on snowy and icy roads, they’re required to do a lot in a short time frame. Many times they are dropping off a car, grabbing a cup of coffee and they are on their way to the next accident or disabled vehicle. When ... read more

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