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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:

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

The Car Whisperer

The Car Whisperer

2016 is swiftly coming to an end. This is traditionally the time of year that we look at what we did the past year regarding finances, weight, exercise, attitude, etc. Then we decide whether we need to have a New Year Resolution. If you read the statistics for keeping resolutions, many of us don’t even make it through January. If your car could talk to you, would it ask you to set a New Year resolution for car maintenance? I’m not the car whisperer but I bet some cars would ask you to add “Maintain the car correctly!” to your list. I can hear your car begging you to change the oil on time, have the fluids checked and make sure that you follow the recommended service schedule for your vehicle. Why? Because your car wants to have the longest life span possible, just like you do. Just like you resolve to go to the gym, pass up dessert and have a positive attitude, it will take you making a conscious decision to do these things. When you get an oil change, schedule ... read more

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

We are thankful for all of the wishes of Merry Christmas, the cards and all of the delicious treats that have been sent our way this holiday season. It's tough to add an unexpected expense to your credit card in December. Cars don't care about the upcoming holidays and they haven't seen your list of Christmas gifts you have to purchase. Coupled with the suddenly cold weather, we've had a lot of breakdowns this month in comparison to maintenance work. We hope that no matter what your month has been like that you enjoy the holiday weekend. Celebrate the people you are with, enjoy their company, and take time to remember those who aren't at the holiday table this year. It really isn't about the presents but being present. All of us at Arie Nol Auto Center wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and wish you and yours the best of the season

That’s not a present!

That’s not a present!

I’m getting a thermostat for Christmas. Ok, not really. I don’t often have vehicle issues because Jeff is pretty serious about maintaining our vehicles. I’ve only had one break down in thirty years and that was a bad starter. The vehicle I was driving had 175,000 miles so I couldn’t complain. Last week it was starting to get cold and it seemed like my heat wasn’t very warm. I thought that it was due to how cold it was. The thing is, I really do know better. I had no check engine light or anything indicating something was wrong. So, I chalked it up to the lovely freezing temperatures of Michigan. While driving early this week my check engine light came on. Jeff scanned it when I got to work and I told him, “My car hasn’t been getting very warm when I turn on the heat.” It has been getting very cold this week and a seat heater only does so much. I have learned it won’t warm up the whole car, no matter how high you turn it up. No one ever appreciates having ... read more

The Christmas Spirit

The Christmas Spirit

We are a Marine Corp Toys for Tots donation sight and it’s so terrific to watch the toys pile up in the donation box. Over the years, we’ve heard some heartwarming stories about why people donate to this particular charity. Sometimes it's someone who benefitted as a child from Toys for Tots. Other times, it's someone who brings their children in and has them put the unwrapped toys in the box as a lesson about giving back. Maybe it's someone who feels blessed and wants to bless a child with a gift at Christmas. When I walked into my office one day this week, there was a ten dollar bill on the desk with a note that read “Buy toys with this money.” Someone had come in and given Cameron the money and told him to buy toys for the Toys for Tots donation box. The holiday season can be stressful, hectic, emotional and overwhelming. Keeping the Christmas Spirit alive can be tough when battling lines at the store, frustrated people and lots of traffic. In our worl ... read more

Torch Award

Torch Award

We were one of the 2016 Better Business Bureau Torch Award for Ethics winners last week. We were excited and humbled to receive this award, especially as an automotive repair business. We are honored that someone felt strongly enough about our business to nominate it for this award. Automotive repair has had a reputation of not being honest or fair to its customers. It was probably deserved at times. I think that most repair shops will agree that it is an uphill battle at times when you are dealing with a customer that has a preconceived idea of your type of business. We take it as an opportunity to educate them about their car repairs and hopefully have them walk away feeling comfortable with the repairs or maintenance we’ve performed. Our goal is to express a value system that shows respect for the customer and their car. It’s an honor to be recognized for our commitment to ethics and we are thankful that the West Michigan Better Business Bureau gives the oppo ... read more

Why Small Business Saturday?

Why Small Business Saturday?

If you look around Grand Rapids, you realize that small business is the backbone of our city. Many of the entertainment venues, parks, and educational spaces we visit were funded by what was once a small business. Think Van Andel, Meijer, Seidman and DeVos. These are obviously exceptional examples. But they all started as a small business and prospered. We have all benefitted from their devotion to our city and its residents. On Saturday November 26, it is Small Business Saturday. I know it’s just another one of those ‘ made up’ holidays but it has real impact and meaning to the small business community. It is true that when you purchase from a small business, it directly and immediately impacts all of us. The profits as well as wages paid stay in the area. Many of us that own small businesses also support small business by trying to use local vendors whenever possible. The profits of those companies also stay in the area. And so it goes. I love to shop ... read more

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

AAA forecasts that 48.7 million Americans will travel farther than 50 miles. As I’m writing this, we have the bay doors open and it’s in the mid-60s. Mostly because it’s Michigan and we have been rewarded an incredible Fall this year, that’s about to change. That’s how Michigan works. If your vehicle is not prepared for a long trip, it’s usually tough to find someplace that can work on it the week of Thanksgiving. Traveling can be stressful so make sure you are prepared. Looking for a list of items to keep in your car? Here’s a good place to start. Being prepared can reduce the stress associated with a road trip. Before you leave, check your oil, windshield wiper fluid, and have your battery tested if you feel it’s been weak. Take a look at your windshield wipers and have them replaced if necessary. Mostly though, enjoy your holiday. Eat lots of turkey and pumpkin pie (with whip cream because what is the point of pumpkin pie without it?) ... read more

Our purple pens

Our purple pens

Sixteen years ago I began working at Arie Nol Auto Center. It was a completely male dominated environment. There were very few woman working in the automotive industry and there were pretty specific ways that things were done. I hadn’t worked in automotive and Jeff had worked his whole adult life in the shop. We occasionally differed on how something should be done. I’m fortunate in that he’s opened-minded and agreed with trying something to see if it worked for us. It didn’t always. I occasionally went down in flames but it was a learning experience. Sixteen years ago I began working at Arie Nol Auto Center. It was a completely male dominated environment. There were very few woman working in the automotive industry and there were pretty specific ways that things were done. I hadn’t worked in automotive and Jeff had worked his whole adult life in the shop. We occasionally differed on how something should be done. I’m fortunate in that he’s opened-minded and agreed with ... read more

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