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My Journey Toward Car Literacy

 I Married A Car Guy: My Journey Toward Car Literacy

 Welcome to the non-automotive automotive blog. My name is Debbie Nol, and I have been the Business Manager at Arie Nol Auto Center since 2000. I have a unique perspective, as I am not a ‘car person’ but work in an industry filled with people passionate about vehicles. It gives me the ability to share what I’ve learned over 20 years and hopefully help you navigate the world of car repair and maintenance more comfortably. However, posts will not always be vehicle related. I love to share observations and story’s from ‘auto world’ with shoes and cats thrown in for good measure.

I’m glad you’re here, and I look forward to you getting to know us a little bit better through this blog!

Articles:

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

Battery Life

Battery Life

Michigan is a beautiful state filled with incredible landscapes, hiking paths, parks and an incredible amount of lakeshore. Most of these places require some driving to access. The best way to ruin a good hike is to get back to your car and find out your battery is dead and you need to find someone to jump start your car. Not many people think about how old a battery is or what it's life span should be. I think about batteries. I don't know if this is an indication that I have been around car repair conversations for too long. Probably. Mostly because I see the inconvenience a bad battery causes and I know it can be avoided with correct maintenance and testing. Michigan is tough on batteries. Hot weather and cold weather both affect longevity of a battery. Winters that include the description snowpocolypse, polar vortex or snowmeggedon are especially harsh on batteries. Our hot summers are equally tough on the battery powering your vehicle. The first sign that ... read more

Who will take the wheel?

Who will take the wheel?

There is a lot of chatter about self-driving or, autonomous cars. There are articles in trade magazines talking about their possible capabilities and what being a passenger in an autonomous car may look like. There is a lot of discussion about the improved safety on the road. On a long trip where being tired could cause you to doze off and potentially cause an accident, it makes sense. If you have elderly parents and would feel better with them not driving, that also makes sense. The safety features of the autonomous vehicle are understandable. From what I’ve read, they are able to teach the vehicle to essentially make decisions. It can discern the difference between a deer and a person in the road. The vehicle also can ignore screaming children, a ringing cell phone and a spilled drink. These are all causes of accidents that most people struggle to ignore while driving. Most people in Michigan know when a deer leaps into the road not to swerve. It’s hard to not try to ... read more

Building relationships, not just fixing cars

Building relationships, not just fixing cars

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. Our business is repairing vehicles. Our goal is to do that well but at the same time, offer customer service we can be proud of. Having been in business for forty years has given us a deep base of customers, some who are third generation drivers just starting to use our services. We received an email last week from a long time customer who mountain bikes. He and Jeff have had many conversations about their shared interests. He had taken a bad tumble on his bike and emailed us to let us know we wouldn’t see him for a bit. He shared what had happened and knew Jeff would be able to relate to a crash on his bike, just not to the l ... read more

Why accessories, and belts, are important

Why accessories, and belts, are important

Drive belts are an integral part of your vehicle’s operating system as they, in conjunction with your engine, power your accessories. I’d like to share a little about the importance of maintaining your drive belts. I’m going to keep it simple and not throw around a bunch of technical words. Essentially, pulleys are attached to the engine, belts run through the pulleys which in turn power the accessory. So the belts are powered by the engine and power the accessories. If you are thinking purses, belts and jewelry, those are not the type of accessories I’m talking about. I’m talking about your water pump, charging system, air conditioning compressor, etc. There are usually several drive belts in each vehicle. When a belt breaks, it can cause damage to the surrounding parts. Replacing pulleys or other parts damaged by a belt breaking is costlier than replacing your car’s drive belt during normal routine maintenance. Technicians know how important your drive belts a ... read more

A Gift for Small Business

A Gift for Small Business

Running a small business requires you to wear so many hats and learn something new every day. One of the biggest challenges is marketing. Marketing dollars need to work to bring in business. Fourteen years ago our marketing consisted of deciding how big our telephone book ad was going to be. There are so many different opportunities now to get your business name out into the public. Internet ads, promotions, radio, TV, direct mail, email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. Some forms cost a lot, some are more inexpensive and some, thankfully, are free. Artprize in Grand Rapids is like a gift to the local small business is some respects. So much more foot traffic and out of town visitors to admire our great city and what it has to offer. They eat, sleep, and shop here, giving the downtown area a huge boost to most of the businesses. Artprize advertises the event and we all benefit. We also get to enjoy amazing art and artists in our own backyard. We are th ... read more

Building relationships, not just fixing cars

Building relationships, not just fixing cars

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. Our business is repairing vehicles. Our goal is to do that well but at the same time, offer customer service we can be proud of. Having been in business for forty years has given us a deep base of customers, some who are third generation drivers just starting to use our services. We received an email last week from a long time customer who mountain bikes. He and Jeff have had many conversations about their shared interests. He had taken a bad tumble on his bike and emailed us to let us know we wouldn’t see him for a bit. He shared what had happened and knew Jeff would be able to relate to a crash on his bike, just not to the l ... read more

An Interview with a Technician - Gordon

An Interview with a Technician - Gordon

I’m fortunate to work with a great bunch of professionals that love what they do. Customers will sometimes ask about the technician that worked on their vehicle. I decided that I would do a Q&A with our technicians so our customers would get to know a little bit about them. I’m going to start with Gordon because he has been here the shortest amount of time and has also been in the automotive industry a short time. We hired him shortly after his graduation from the MTEC program at Grand Rapids Community College. He had previously been in a completely different industry for the past ten years. How long have you worked at Arie Nol Auto Center? I’ve been here for nine months. Why did you decide to go into the automotive industry? When I was young, I watched my Dad and my uncle work on my Uncle’s race car and that sparked my interest but I didn’t pursue it until I decided to make a career change. What would you tell someone in high school th ... read more

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