It Ain’t Bragging If You Can Back It Up

It Ain’t Bragging If You Can Back It Up

For the great work they do, shop owners like Harrison Keyes talk less about “me” and more about “us.”

When Harrison Keyes learned that he was to be featured on the cover of this month’s ShopOwner magazine, he was not exactly thrilled.

Oh, he was pleased about the fact that he had been named the 2023 Technician of the Year by Auto Value and Bumper to Bumper, and that he and his fellow finalists from all over North and Latin America were going to be highlighed.

He was proud that his team at Jerry’s Auto Service in Waukesha, WI, would get the recognition it deserves for being part of a 60-plus-year legacy of service to the Greater Milwaukee driving public.

But, he admitted, “It’s hard to sit here and read about yourself.”

From a timid teenager nervous about doing something wrong in the shop, to a successful shop owner managing just shy of 20 employees, Keyes has definitely come out of his shell over the past 23 years. He’s had an impact on thousands of families over the decades and has a great story to tell. That doesn’t mean he relishes being in the spotlight.

Harrison Keyes says that his experience from the back of the shop to the front of the team photo has taught him that the people having his back are the secret to his success. 

Brag about his shop? You bet. Brag about himself? No thanks.

That’s the one trait I notice about the automotive professionals I’ve had the honor to interview for cover profiles in ShopOwner magazine. For the great work they do, for the services they perform, they’re less comfortable talking about “me” than about “us.”

Over the past three years of writing profiles, I’ve had to drag personal information out of the men and women leading today’s shops. Ask about their team, though, and I’ve been overwhelmed with more detail than I could ever use in the allotted space. Luckily, I can turn these extended conversations into something we in the media biz call “additional content.”

Thanks to the amazing changes in technology we’re all encountering, a conversation that goes on a tangent can easily be turned into something completely different. A profile about a shop owner’s search for new ADAS equipment can suddenly become a podcast about mentoring. 

In fact, recently, Roy Niemi, owner of A&D Auto Repair in Haslett, MI, was talking about the challenges he is facing in determining what type of equipment he needs to restore the wide range of vehicles his general repair and collision service business handles on a daily basis. 

Our conversation drifted from the “what” to the “who” in his shop and he began bragging about the skilled, experienced employees he has who have made it their mission to mentor the younger technicians to raise the level of teamwork, service and professionalism in the shop.

“It must be satisfying to recognize that you were smart enough to put such a successful program in place, by yourself, right?” I asked Roy, not even remotely seriously.

“I wish it was all me, brother,” he said. “I wish I could take all the credit in the world for it, but I’ve got really, really good people around me who I’ve been able to take ideas from and implement with my own. I couldn’t do it without my people. I couldn’t do it without my management staff. And, I certainly couldn’t do it without my team.”

Who has YOUR back?  Let them know how much you appreciate them.

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