Desert Car Care of Chandler a brain-child of Frank Leutz was born from the passion and spirit of an individual that believed in people, and the community it served. Through the years it would become a top 3 per cent national gross revenue shop, with award-winning service and numerous professional affiliations such as Automotive Service Association, Better Business Bureau Ethics Award Nominee and in 2016 Chandler Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year.
Frank Leutz, who said :”It is critical no matter the level of experience to continually seek training and never stop learning,” was recently engaged online by NATA News Editor-in-Chief, Samuel Oloyede Oriowo to bare his mind on the industry he boasts provided him “an opportunity to make a fairly decent living supporting” his “family.”
Excerpts of the Interview:
NATA News: Tell us where you were born, dates, parentage and your voyage to America.
Frank: Born in Frankfurt, Germany –immigrated to the U.S.A in 1972 –raised in a single family household. Active in playing Football and studying music
NATA News: Your educational background; year into each of the schools/institutions; and year of graduations.
Frank: Studied Performing Arts at the Fame School in New York City -Music & Art LaGauradia High School of The Arts -Performed at Carnegie Hall and played with Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Lionel Hampton and various artists throughout the New York City Area as a Trombonist.
NATA News: What motivated you into taking up vehicle repairs?
Frank: I was in the US Navy traveling the world and doing mine sweep operations during the mid to late 80’s and after my tour of duty, I started to work as a mechanic with my father in-law at the time not really enjoying it. I liked the camaraderie of the mechanics in the service bays, and only until I got hired at a GM dealership did I realize with proper training that the automotive industry was an exciting industry to be a part of, as well as, an opportunity to make a fairly decent living supporting my family.
NATA News: In what year did you set-up Desert Car Care of Chandler?
Frank: I actually started in business in 1995, after I was fired from the dealership at that time. When I was released, I had about 5 years experience as a mechanic, and was extremely frustrated from this event and almost decided to move back to New York and discontinue working in the automotive industry.
My wife and I at the time decided that we would first scrap the very little money we had, and open our very first garage and go into business. Many years later we sold that business and then started the Desert Car Care brand and ultimately went on to opening three locations; of which we later sold two, and now remain with one.
NATA News: In what areas of vehicle repairs are you most competent?
Frank: Import and Domestic vehicles is our strong suit; GM, Ford, Dodge and the Japanese imports.
NATA News: What is the staff strength of Desert Car Care of Chandler?
Frank: We currently have 7 employees on our team, all ASE Certified, with one Master Technician.
NATA News: As the Chief Operating Officer of Desert Car Care of Chandler, what are the challenges that confront you daily?
Frank: With technology blazing away and making huge advancements, training is critical as well as the investment in the proper equipment, tooling and hardware/software to keep up with testing.
NATA News: As the Host of a weekly Radio Program: Wrench Nation; when did you begin this?
Frank: We started Wrench Nation in 2015 and are now celebrating 181 shows to date with a multitude of guests from all over the world, highlighting the positive good works of the automotive industry.
NATA News: What have you used the platform to achieve?
Frank: Awareness to both the motoring public about the details of how mechanics actually go through the process of repairing modern day vehicles, as well as inspiring younger folks to take up a career as an automotive technician.
NATA News: Have you been seen as a role model through your activities in promoting taking up career in auto repair?
Frank: Actively work in the community with our Desert Car Care team –Small Business of the Year, Top 10 Ranking Arizona Auto Repair Shop, Best Places to Work by the Phoenix Business Journal –a multitude of car care clinics for woman and younger students take place in the garage throughout the year educating the community.
Work closely with the automotive industry nationally engaging in panel discussions and speaking engagements for educational purposes of marketing, operation functionality and productivity methods.
NATA News: How responsive should an auto repair technician/engineer be?
Frank: It is critical no matter the level of experience to continually seek training and never stop learning.
NATA News: What Unions/Associations of Auto Repair do you belong to and what are your primary roles there; as a member, and or officer?
Frank: Currently a member of the Automotive Service Association; National Mechanical Operations Committee
NATA News: Before one can become a Certified Automotive Technician/Engineer in the United States of America, what are the prerequisites/requirements?
Frank: There really aren’t any prerequisites other than a willingness to learn and the ability to maintain professionalism with the employer that they will eventually work for.
There are advanced levels of associate degrees that do require a High School Diploma. A.S.E. levels of certification do require 2 years experience of working in a professional garage environment.
NATA News: And how should a standard vehicle repair workshops should look like?
Frank: The biggest thing here is no matter the level of equipment or skill set –a positive attitude, and the ability to embrace helping the motoring public in a professional manner with pride of industry is critical.
I started with a floor jack and a minimal set of hand tools, and was able to pursue a methodical approach to business growth. An above ground lift/hoist, air compressor, hand tools along with the proper test equipment to communicate properly with vehicles is essential.
There should also be a respectable waiting area for clients to relax while their vehicle is being serviced.
NATA News: In what other areas of endeavours are you engaged?
Frank: Most of my time is set working at our business and Wrench Nation platform, along with serving the industry through association work.
NATA News: What are your core hubbies?
Frank: Music, Boating and all things family.
NATA News: What are your philosophies of life?
Frank: It isn’t about whether you fail or are successful –it is absolutely about the courage, and hard work.
There is no such thing as an overnight rocket to the top. Hard work, dedication and the ability to share that journey with as many people in and around your community helping them get better is what it is all about.
NATA News: Are you married?
Frank: Yes. Since 1990.
NATA News: To whom?
Frank: My lovely wife Josephine.
NATA News: Is the marriage blessed with the fruits of the womb?
NATA News: How many children have you?
NATA News: Is any, or all of them taking after you; professionally?
Frank: Not at this time.
NATA News: Devotion to the profession; has there been any time your home-front affected negatively?
Frank: When I started my first business making an incredible amount of mistakes working 18 hours a day losing money, I missed the first three years of my daughter’s life of to which created stress and strain on the family front.
NATA News: How do you manage your time; as a devoted career automotive repair engineer, a dutiful husband, a responsible father; who also must socialize to wind down?
Frank: Maintaining a balance in life is crucial. The reality is when you are hungry and eager to be successful; you tend to run long hours and can easily burn out. I work closely with a calendar of scheduled items and work hard to follow that, otherwise it would be chaotic.
Managing time is one of the most difficult things for an entrepreneur as we tend to be YES people and take on too much. Learning how to gracefully say NO when appropriate, along with eliminating as much of the interrupted time wasters isn’t easy, but crucial to maintaining time management and productivity.
I do not work on weekends and do my best to take care of my family activities and hobbies we enjoy.
NATA News: Your most valuable Awards?
FranK: Best Places to Work Phoenix Business Journal (2012), Small Business of the Year (2016), Top 10 Ranking Arizona Auto Repair (2016, 2017 & 2019), Automotive Service Association Communicator of the Year Award (2018), Woman In Auto Care Marketing Award Business to Consumer (2019) and Best of Chandler Auto Repair (2014, 2015 & 2016).
NATA News: It’s been a most pleasurable time chatting with you!
Frank: Thank you so much for sharing the story. Have an amazing evening!!