In today’s episode we have a guest that could test the knowledge of our host Jeremy. @autotechmike is a mechanic who runs his own shop and has been in the trade for decades. Mike takes us step by step through his journey as a mechanic while cracking jokes and sharing crazy client experiences with Jeremy. We get to hear what it is like going from employee to employer and the hardships that come with being a mechanic and a business owner.
Eric Girouard 0:00
This is bucket top, a weekly podcast where people who work in the trades and construction that aren't just trying to survive, but have the ambition and desire to thrive. The opportunity to trade and construction is absolutely ridiculous right now. So if you're hungry, it's time to eat. We discuss what it takes to rise from the bottom to the top with people who are well on their way, and roll up their sleeves every single day.
Jeremy Perkins 0:29
All right, on this episode of bucket talk, we are here with auto tech Mike, auto tech. Mike, welcome.
Mike Pfeffer 0:36
Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Jeremy Perkins 0:39 Hell, yeah. So this was so as as I said, off camera, and I'll say it again. I come from the automotive industry. I am nervous to do this podcast because you never know the guy next to you knows more knowledge will call you out on your bullshit. So let's see how this will go. So Mike, where are you out of? What do you do on a daily basis? How'd you get your start? Let's let's start there.
Mike Pfeffer 1:07
I'm in Napoleon. Michigan. Does a little town right before Brooklyn, where m is Speedway
Jeremy Perkins 1:12
Mike Pfeffer 1:17
Been working in this same building for over a decade? Yep. actually worked for the previous owner for over 10 years. And he ended up retiring, I had the option to buy it out. So now I'm working for myself going on for a couple of years. Now.
Jeremy Perkins 1:35
I want to get I want to get deep into that because that is something that I I got to that point. And I was wondering whether I make the jump to do it myself or whether I just, you know, join the masses and jump to a dealership and do all that stuff. I was mom and pop. From the day I got out of school all the way to the day I stopped branching. So that's definitely something I want to hit on. But how'd you get into the trade? Like go go far back?
Mike Pfeffer 2:09
As a kid I was fascinated with taking things apart. And I think what got me into working on cars in general was small engines. I think everybody gets their start with small engines like lawn mowers or go karts mini bikes. So I lived in a small little subdivision and people would throw a lot Moore's. So me being 910 years old, I'd scoop those up, fix them up and post post mountain the front yard for sale, and loved it. Loved the thing, making something that wasn't running and making a run again. And then the money wasn't too bad either. But
Jeremy Perkins 2:48
no, that's actually that's actually a good point. I mean, few few of my friends made fun of me because I was a trash picker. But people throw out some good stuff. And all it is is literally a foul plug. No oil. You know, I had one that was a pressure washer. The guy used it once put it away. The tip was clogged. So I assumed that when he went to go use it the next time didn't work. Put it out on the curb. And you know, power washers come with like four or five different depths. It's like, it was funny. But yeah, no, I mean, I could it's lucrative business just trash backing alone. So then most
Mike Pfeffer 3:26
of them the carburetors are plugged up or fuel gels up. Just needs a car clean.
Jeremy Perkins 3:32
Yep. I don't even know if a lot of people know what a carburetor isn't anymore. No. So anyway, so you were you're a kid, you had the passion for making a little coin on your own. How'd you get to actually starting to work for a shop? Having the knowledge the ability Did you? Did you there was that summer job sweeping the floors? Or was it full on auto mechanic school and then just jumping right into it?
Mike Pfeffer 4:03
How'd you go into? There's a thing next to the college here, Jackson community college and a career center in school. So I did that for a couple of years was all hands on. Ended up being like top of my class there. It got so good that they had this Pontiac granddad's 3.8 liter I think it was and we had to do a motor swap in it. And it went sideways. Harness was all destroyed. So we're trying to splice in this harness from this other vehicle to the new vehicle and we didn't know what we were doing. But yeah, we sure as hell tried but
Jeremy Perkins 4:46
good stuff good stuff. Yeah. And then And then so So you did a little bit of that. And then what was your first job? Like? What was your first job out in the field? How'd you go about getting that?
Mike Pfeffer 4:58
I started for myself. Oh, so that's a bit different. So that's crazy mobile. Yeah, I did mobile stuff. And it was hard. It was especially around here getting your foot in the door certifications and all that. And I'm not a good book, like a test taker.
Jeremy Perkins 5:19
Yeah, no, I never. I didn't get any of my ASCs by the way, I actually, you know, there's a
Mike Pfeffer 5:25
couple. There's, there's no how many more? Yeah, there
Jeremy Perkins 5:29
was a whole group of people out there that, and I don't dog them. They got certified mastertech, everything like that. And for me, we didn't require them. We didn't. I mean, it's a it's an outside company telling you, you're good. You know, there's no state or federal regulation on it. So it was like, why am I gonna pay all this money? To tell some to have some company say, good job, you did it. I don't know.
Mike Pfeffer 5:58
The only thing in Michigan they got is you got to have the state certifications. That's all they require. So anything you're gonna be working on, you got to be certified in it. So you go take like a 50 question. Quiz or whatever it is, you pay six bucks per test. It's a lot cheaper than ASE. A whole lot cheaper. But, yeah, they make you be required if you're going to do any kind of automotive work. Same thing as if you open up your business, you got to have a repair facility license. Yeah, you even got to have one. Now if you're doing mobile back when I started. They didn't require that. Yeah,
Jeremy Perkins 6:33
that's interesting, because I actually want to go a little bit deeper into that. So I could I could see somebody going mobile and just like doing it under the radar, you got the truck, you got the service truck, you're doing oil changes in like Office, parking lots wipers, what have you. But I've always wanted to know, from a mobile perspective, like, that's, that's not kosher. Like, obviously, somebody's got, like you spill oil, there's got, there's gotta be some sort of process or licensing or whatever you gotta go through. And this was new, when I started doing it, at least in my area, was they started having these mobile trucks that would come out and do it. And I'm like, I'm having a hard time just just getting it figured out at a at a stationary location. I couldn't imagine all the permitting and whatever process they got to go through, because I would assume each town and city are different, or is there some? Is it statewide? I don't even know where to start there.
Mike Pfeffer 7:29
You know, I don't know what it is now. Yeah. But as far as fluids, I didn't have to worry about anything about having special certifications or permits for spilling oil or coolant. As long as I cleaned up after myself, sort of carry your normal oil, dry floor dry kitty litter, whatever it was cheaper. Clean it up, put it in a bag and dispose of it. Don't get into how it was disposed. But
Mike Pfeffer 7:58
it's it was disposed. Yeah. Well, that
Jeremy Perkins 8:00
was another thing too. Like for us. We were we were we were pumped. We had as cold as hell up here. I assume it's cold where you are. We were lucky. We had a we had a Clean Burn Unit. Shout out to clean burn. I got ya. Yeah. Aren't they the best? I mean, it was just like, people come down and be like, can I dispose? Can I give you my oil? And we're like, Sure, we'll take it and it's like, right, here's, like, we got heat for the winter. And my boss had this most elaborate setup, it was like, it was a Sandpiper pump. So it's a diaphragm pump. And we'd have the day tank, right. So the big tank was like 100 gallons. And that was fed up to the Clean Burn Unit. But then outside, we built this custom, this custom shed and it had Roth tanks, all these Roth tanks set up, right. And so we had a plumber come in and plumb them. So we could we could blow off all the the oil buckets into the de tank, right? And we could transfer it out during the summer months to all these Roth tanks. And then from the Roth tanks in the summer, or when the winter came, we get transferred back to the day tanks through this manifold system. The funny part is, if you aren't paying attention, you're fuck. So I don't know how many oil spills I cleaned up within the shop, but it worked. It works great. I mean, he would take everything diesel, kerosene, you know, any hydraulic oil oil. I mean, if it burned, we take it. And we were I mean, it was t shirts in the wintertime. It was great.
Mike Pfeffer 9:42
Oh yeah. It's like 80 degrees in here. It's like man, you're burning me out. It's like I want to be comfortable when I'm working.
Jeremy Perkins 9:50
Yeah, closed door. And that's all on waste oil. I mean, all waste oil. And you know, I personally think that that's the best way to tell Burn all the fluids that we, we go through.
Mike Pfeffer 10:03
I've got a big tank outside that is about the same, I think it's another 250 gallon tank because on top of our Clean Burn, we got the 250 gallon tank. So we'll fill that outside. But it's a little harder to get than what you were saying your old boss had. Yeah, so I have an old transfer pump and a garden hose and I stick in there and string it all the way across from outside into the shop. And, boy, you better make sure those connections are tight. But
Jeremy Perkins 10:30
you know what's interesting, too, we I mean, I don't know if he had a forklift or not we had a forklift. And we bought those, those plastic tanks, like you get them from junkyards or whatever they they come in the metal cage, I don't know if they're like 500 gallon tanks. We got to the point where we were filling nose because we just had so much. And then we take again, you know one of those transfer pumps. But again, if you have that that Sandpiper pump or that Diaphragm Pump, you can almost plumb a hose in with a valve and you just set you move it out to where you need to and suck it right into the datang. I mean, obviously the the sediment and all that stuff, but I have to we can go on for hours. But so that's cool. So you you went into the mobile unit, you have you learned a lot there. What made you jump to a to a facility that people come to you versus you come into them?
Mike Pfeffer 11:36
I think I hated working in a winter. That was that was the gist of it. It's cold rolling around and rain snow. Yeah. It sucked to be honest. Yeah. I think I did the mobile stuff for five years. Hell, it could be more I lost track. But I should I've worked in this building. And this is the only shop I've worked at. So most people like Well, that's the only shop you've worked at. But yeah, so I've been mobile, I've been here, pretty much the majority of my career,
Jeremy Perkins 12:09
I think we have more in common than I than I originally thought mine was, it was at a little gas station right out of the military for a couple of years. It shut down because it wasn't a high rent district. So it was like gas station or condos. And I chose condos. And then I went out to the burbs, and, man, I spent 15 years out there. I never wanted to make the jump. I love what I did. So
Mike Pfeffer 12:36
that's my that was my thought if if he wasn't gonna sell it to me or give me the option to sell is like man, what do I do? I'd been been independent for so long do I really want to go to a dealership so I kind of got pushed into this because it was a great deal. Like, I worked for me i loyalty was there trust was there, I didn't have a downpayment to do for him. So we just kind of gave it to me and loaned me some money for startup and pay him back when, when we're doing good. And
Jeremy Perkins 13:08
yeah, and then if you want to go into it, I mean, I might be I might be prying a little bit here. But I've talked with a whole bunch of shop owners on it. Transfer of shop, right. And a lot of the shop owners will say, you know, I'll continue, I'll continue to own the property. I'll give you the shop, all the equipment, everything. And then it's startup, it's turnkey, ready to go. Like nothing, like not like you didn't miss a beat. So that's one way of doing it. I never really liked that because, you know, I've heard horror stories of, of, you know, just rent going through the roof. And then now you're at the mercy of your old boss or your old whatever. So, I've always heard to own the property, which is not necessarily the best either, because a lot of these service stations and whatever. They also come with years and years of hazardous problems, if you will. So when you go when you go to sell it, there's there's a lot of ghosts, there's a lot of skeletons in the closet, if you will, and those horror stories. And then, I mean, on top of it. Like for me, I was I was gonna make the jump. I wanted to own my own shop. And, you know, the boss I was working with at the time, he was like, you know, I'll give it to you. You'll just have to rent it from me. And I don't know, I just I couldn't do it.
Mike Pfeffer 14:45
So he was gonna do basically what you're saying keep the property rent the building to you. Yeah. You could sell the property off for money and then you're kind of screwed. You still own the building, but what do you do because you ain't got the property.
Jeremy Perkins 14:58
Right, right. And then on top of that, I mean, one of the one of the things that scared me most about our industry, and this was an I'm sure you've toyed with the idea, too, is technology is moving so fast, right. And it seems like the dealerships are pulling it, pulling it back. I mean, we were, we had the GM MDI, right, we had the Ford IDs, we had Toyota, we had all this stuff, right. And the subscriptions were just astronomical, like, the overhead costs are, are through the roof. And, you know, you go to the dealership, and they're like, Yeah, flash for 30 bucks. Well, a flash for me, is 100 plus, right. And so it was almost like, is my next move to go to a dealership? I mean, where would I be if I started a shop right now? 20 years from now, where would I be? And I had the hardest time, you know, dealing with that. So So walk me through your your thought process there and it and why you went went this route versus just working for the man.
Mike Pfeffer 16:12
Because it was pretty much well, I should shouldn't say pretty much but it was similar to what I was already doing. So it was me and another guy. And then the owner, which was the service writer. Yep, I was doing most of the lead mechanic stuff to begin with. He's retiring out, it's pretty much the same. So the only other thing I'd pick up was service writing, which I was doing that anyways. So it was kind of like a no brainer. I'm like, Well, I'm pretty much already doing this. So the only differences is I gotta manage bills now. And make sure everything's paid. Switch over accounts. The hardest part of it is switching over all the accounts like your parts vendors, your Mitchell.
Jeremy Perkins 16:56
Yeah, LM blue phone,
Mike Pfeffer 17:00
Pio box add? Yeah, just all the tedious stuff you don't think about? When you're just renting?
Jeremy Perkins 17:09
I gotta, I gotta I got a question for you. So you spoke about Mitchell, there's Mitchell, there's all data, there's, you know, a couple of different software's out there. Have you used identify fix?
Mike Pfeffer 17:20
I have from time to time, so I don't keep a subscription on it. But on occasion, you get those ones that stumped the living crap out of you. Yeah. And you call them up. So if I gotta use it, I, I'll either eat that call or call the customer and say, Hey, I got this program I can get access and get more info from but it's gonna cost this much. You want to split it with me or however, but a lot of times, they'll split it with me.
Jeremy Perkins 17:47
Yeah, it was it was crazy. We actually carried the subscription. You know, obviously, not the plug identity fix, but it was, it was pretty cool. Because it was a forum for mechanics throughout the United States. So you'd get like a no start on a Chevy Blazer. Right. And they said, you know, one of the fix was drain the fuel tank, it was filled with Italian dressing. And you're like, like, why is this even an identity fix posts like watchOS got
Mike Pfeffer 18:21
from someone or that too? Oh, yeah, sure track or whatever. And it comes up with the weirdest stuff.
Jeremy Perkins 18:29
But then, but then there was if there was enough posts on the problem, it gets you in the right direction. It's like 378 say, you know, check power and ground and fuel pump, check, you know, fuel pressure and what have you. So it leads you in the right direction. But same thing I loved identify, fix, identify fix was was great. It was
Mike Pfeffer 18:52
a punch in a code or whatever. And he puts it in the search and it says, Alright, 3000 like this throttle actuator code. 3000. Confirmed fixes. Throttle Body fixed it. Yeah, another 700 was the gasket. Yeah, and so on and so forth. And it's like, okay, well, I guess we started looking at the throttle body area.
Jeremy Perkins 19:10
You must be talking about a Chevy. Yep. Old old tu tu tu tu
Mike Pfeffer 19:18
that's finally at a Ford in here. The other day was the same thing. Jeremy Perkins 19:21 Oh, surprisingly, you had a Ford in your shop that was broken down.
Mike Pfeffer 19:25
No. Throttle Body. Ford's always broken between Ford and Chevy. They keep me in business.
Jeremy Perkins 19:31
That's what I said. I was a diesel mechanic for the longest time I said that. I said do a lot of the owners. I said thanks. You guys are paying my kids college tuition.
Mike Pfeffer 19:44
As I know, I get people like oh you don't get you don't see Toyotas or Honda's very much or at all. I don't see any Honda's or Toyota is in your video. I've done some but it's a small town plus they don't break down that often. And
Jeremy Perkins 19:56
all they don't. I mean, Toyota is I mean, other than that, Other than the frame, the frame recalls that they had which was, you know, a shame, but at the same time they did well by the customers. All those Tacomas tundras everything out there, although
Mike Pfeffer 20:12
I think they're reinjure airbag recall.
Jeremy Perkins 20:14
Yeah, that was a good old Takata. Yep. So I actually want to start talking about tools, right? So we've gotten into the business, you can go one way or the other, you can go dealership, which is flat rate, fast pace. For those out there that don't know about flat rate, each each job in the automotive industry comes with a book time, meaning you get paid a certain amount of hours to do that job. Now, if you're in Florida, you're probably going to be booked time every time. If you're up in the salt states, like us. Book time is, dude, it's a joke. It's a joke.
Mike Pfeffer 21:00
You pretty much want to see the vehicle before you try to quote anything. How Rusty is it?
Jeremy Perkins 21:07
Has this been as it's been a plow truck for 15 years, and I gotta I gotta get that fuel ring off the fuel pump. On the flip side, you have the age old hourly rate, which I stopped by, Hey, man, I'm a hard worker. I'm gonna give you a good hour's work if you make more money off me in that hour. As long as we're at a fair wage, that's, that's where I wanted to be. So that's what I was comfortable with. I show up, you pay me, I give you a full day's work. And we're good. Flat Rate never really did anything for me.
Mike Pfeffer 21:47
I've been on flat rate I've been on hourly, I I like them both. But hourly is better, especially if you don't have the work coming in. Yeah, at least you can find something to do on the show, clean your box, organize a shelf or do something push a broom. But you're still getting
Jeremy Perkins 22:03
that was the hard part is you know, they started talking about customer service. I forget what it was like the CSI ratings. So customer service index. So he said in dealerships are our CSI needs to go up, meaning our Customer Service Satisfaction needs to go up. And they're like, put me on hourly was like, you know, if you know it's good, fast and cheap, if you want it you like pick to if you want a good and fast. You know, you pay me salary. If you want it fast and cheap. You pay me you pay me on flat rate. So it was it was funny. It was
Mike Pfeffer 22:46
it's definitely a lot of my time now is spent talking with customers like getting the full problem and then making sure they're happy. So I spent a lot more time doing that now as the business owner than I was as the tech. Oh, yeah. That's changed.
Jeremy Perkins 23:04
That being said, What's your craziest, craziest customer story? Like, probably like your worst one? Do let me go first.
Mike Pfeffer 23:16
Sure. We had,
Jeremy Perkins 23:19
we had a customer, unfortunately, come in and say that she lost her engagement ring in the car, or she left her engagement ring in the car. And it was no longer there. Now we had, we've protected against it. Like we've opened up glove boxes we found anywhere from firearms to stacks of cash to stuff that we probably shouldn't even be talking about. And for me, it was always, you know, first off, you shouldn't, it shouldn't have been left in the car. But at the same time, I'm gonna bring it up to my employer, and then we'd make that phone call. My shop was pretty good. In my shot, we had a very tight group of people. So it didn't happen period. Like there was there was nothing and she's like, I swear I left my engagement ring in the car. It's a $50,000 engagement ring. And it was such a nightmare. It was such a nightmare. And ultimately, like we we gave the customer the repair for free. We knew that it didn't happen, but like it's just difficult. And I mean, it's happened with sunglasses. It's happened with change. I mean, some people are like, Hi had $20 and change and you're like nobody stole your change. And I mean, I don't know I've told my wife since day one. Not that not that mechanics are are unreliable. That's not what I'm saying is if you have something that you want to protect, don't assume that it's going to be protected. Right. So yeah. So tell me you're
Mike Pfeffer 24:56
crazy. I've got I've got a couple well Wheel Lock tools you're searching. You're searching around for the wheel lock tool. You're checking the center console, the glove box, you're in the trunk area. Well, I'm digging through a car. Okay, find some dime bags and all this stuff in the council. No, no wheel lock tool. Look in the glove box, no wheel lock Tool, go to the trunk pull up the spare tire in there. A burka weed. Okay. Found the wheel lock tool, though. But there's a whole frickin burqa weed in the trunk. And then they're on an opposite note. I had a customer come in for a break complaint. Like I think he said he just did his brakes or a wheel bearing or something. But it was making noise. I get it up on the lift. I'm inspecting it just visual over. I'm like, What the heck is that. And I see just the handle of like pliers. He had some needlenose pliers that were wedged in behind the head of the rotor, and we're rotating around the entire time. Like I don't know how you leave pliers in behind the head of a rotor in a wheel bearing. I have pictures of that somewhere. I think they're on my Facebook, but I was pretty crazy.
Jeremy Perkins 26:17
I've I've been known to leave a tool behind every now and again. But yeah, my favorite was like guys that check like the EVAP system and they'll they'll crimp off the the, the exhaust side of the EVAP system or the vent vent side. And you go up there and you're like, how long is this Dodge is actually notorious for not running the EVAP cycle for like a long time. So finally the check engine light came on. I was like, Oh, well, I've seen that this has been a problem for a while.
Mike Pfeffer 26:55
vise grips just
Jeremy Perkins 26:56
just just hanging right. I mean,
Mike Pfeffer 27:02
I've had that come in break complaint. I've only got three blade breaks I know about they got vise grips on the brake hose clamp off. I've had one come in for a break complaint. I think I did a video on this was they use plastic line for the brake line?
Jeremy Perkins 27:19
No shit like fuel line, like the
Mike Pfeffer 27:23
polyurethane or whatever you I can't think of the proper name for the black stuff that they're using for fuel light now, yeah, right over top of it and clamped it. I'm surprised they made it here it drove it stopped. But wow, that's like really?
Jeremy Perkins 27:39
That's crazy. I mean that that was always a big thing for us was like compression fittings, brake, brake lines and stuff like that. Honestly, I've never, I've, in my, in my early days I was under, I was under the instruction of somebody that shouldn't have been instructing. So I didn't know that you just different. Correct. And then I quickly found out that that wasn't the right thing to do. However, I will tell you that I haven't seen a compression fitting fail on a brake line. And in my my life, I mean, I've checked, we've done brake lines day in and day out. And I've seen them come in and the lines rotted and the compression fittings still there. And I was like, it's interesting that
Mike Pfeffer 28:25
we're talking about that. I think I'm the same way I see them on vehicles. I don't like them on vehicles. No, I've never had one come in because it failed. No, no, I won't put them on it. But my luck if I put one on it, it would be the one to fail. But yeah, it always works.
Jeremy Perkins 28:41
Let's talk about tools. I totally got sidetracked. So one of the big things and I actually want to coach some of the kids that are listening to this some of the some of the guys that have been in the business while I fell into the I'm not going to name names because I still love the companies. But I fell into the trap. Early on I was paying I was paying a lot of money for a lot of tools. And as I exited the trade, you know as I come up to the farm and and working with Brent and doing the podcast and what have you. I realized that that as long as the the tool got the job done you didn't have to pay an arm and a leg. I mean we joke about that 10 millimeter socket. I don't know how many of this company's 10 millimeter sockets that I've lat lost that at the end of the day, I probably shouldn't have been paying 20 $30 a 10 millimeter socket for that lifetime warranty when you could roll down to Pittsburgh or Harbor Freight or whatever. Right and do the same thing. So talk talk to me about your tool setup and, and, and and kind of the trials and tribulations you've gone through there.
Mike Pfeffer 29:57
Ah, when I acquired this place let's start here. I've tried snapper and I've tried to Cornwell I've used them all I've got them all. Yeah. And you're right. The cheaper tools get the job done. The only time I say to get something expensive is if you break the cheaper one multiple times yeah is like that big one I'm pushing now also, that's not a plug but as a plug it's they're a pretty good tool tool brand nerd. They're made up their two Cornwell they're still cheaper than the tool trucks, but they're I think they're right up there with Harbor Freight pricing. But they're better than Harbor Freight pricing. Yeah, all their stuffs been on point. I haven't broken I've been using everyday their new ratchets that came out. They feel identical to me is like a snap ons and the Cornwall's I in fact, I think the one that I got from them feels way better than a Cornwell ratchet. Yeah. And I spent twice the money on that one.
Jeremy Perkins 31:04
Yeah. Yeah. No, I mean, that's, that's a that's a valid point. I mean, I would tool storage I must have I probably have over 25k and just tool storage, nevermind the, the tools in it. And I'm wondering, like, should I have gone down and bought a general or an icon or, you know what I mean, it just at the end of the day, I mean, my progression, though, was actually pretty cool. I went from like, hammy down repainted, like, snap on toolbox from like, the 70s. I still have it. And then I went to like a credit they used to, they used to bust my balls at the shop. They were like, Hey, you got the Maytag washers. I literally had like a Sears craftsman, stainless steel, toolbox, top and bottom chest. And then I moved to the whole the whole snap on setup, and then I love it. But at the end of the day, was it worth it?
Mike Pfeffer 32:04
Right? Well, yeah, when I bought this shop, the the old business owner invested all his snap on Matco, Mac, and all the all the tools and equipment came with it. So I inherited. So now I got all this stuff that he invested in. So I've got the boxes, tools, specialty tools, that I didn't have to go in by myself. But now I got like triples and quadruples of everything. I probably didn't have to buy a big ol Cornwell box, but I liked it. guilty of that. I liked the way it looks cool.
Jeremy Perkins 32:49
No, and that was a that was a funny thing, too. I said to my I said to my wife, as you know, we're doing our wills and what have you. And I was like, trust me, the money I put into this is not the money you're getting out of it. So you're better off just giving it to the kid and saying, Hey, hold on to this, you'll need you'll need these tools at some point in time. It ain't worth selling it. Because the list price that I paid for it is like going to be a fraction of the cost that you're going to sell it for. Because ain't no mechanic out there going to kind of shell out 25k Plus for a built out tool.
Mike Pfeffer 33:24
No, I think I just got my year and tool from Cornwell it was like $29,000 for the year. That's what the box and the scanners and subscriptions on the scanners and it's like, oh my gosh, my kids kids are going to be paying on this thing.
Jeremy Perkins 33:41
Yeah, I mean, the subscriptions the, the the scan tools are just and they're always changed. I mean, I got a little I got a modus still. And I don't think I've updated it's 2019 And I'm like, I mean it's like $1,800 for subscriptions. Hey honey, I want to update my my 18 now
Mike Pfeffer 34:10
in a much cheaper for the Altos for the year it's like 12 to $1,400 for the year
Jeremy Perkins 34:15
as crazy as crazy.
Mike Pfeffer 34:18
I started out with a snap on verus and sold that got the auto sells I still keep the the old Modus which is only for like the old OBD one stuff through the 80s and stuff. Keep that around on occasion. Occasionally you get the old vehicle in Yeah, all the way around here. We'll work on it.
Jeremy Perkins 34:37
That was that was the crazy part too is like you had to keep them right OBD one and, and the Vantage and the scope and all that stuff and then we had an auto that would would talk to like early sobs like you just randomly get a sob and you're like, I can't communicate with it. The tech too, would communicate with some of the SOPs to um during its time being acquired by GM, but yeah, there's there's those offshoot ones that were that were crazy. But yeah, so tools, obviously high level, make sure that what you're buying is going to be some of the module we had in the shop is if you need to borrow it twice. Buy it. So, yep. Cuz Steve, Jim, you know, whoever in the shop is not going to let you borrow it over and over again, because there's obviously wear and tear on that. And hell, if that ever breaks, then you're on the hook for paying for it
Mike Pfeffer 35:40
with my apprentice.
Jeremy Perkins 35:41
The other thing is, is like there's just so many tool options out there. Don't let the tool truck get you every time. Awesome, awesome. So when you're looking for a new hire, right, so do you have a problem hiring? Are you are you seeing a labor shortage? Are you fully staffed?
Mike Pfeffer 36:02
I've got enough people to get the job done. I've got to now I've got another right hand man that knows just about as much as I do, which is thank God but I grew up with him. So we know each other I know his skill set. He knows mine. Luckily, he was in the shop he was working out before wasn't treating him right. So their loss is my gain. Yeah, and he just started hell in November. So he been here very long. But yeah, we're rockin and rollin we we mesh real good. I love it. Before that, people walk in want a job, but it was entry level. They haven't ever rent they wanted me to teach them and I want to teach but I I don't have the time right now to teach. Yeah, that the full the way I want to? I'd love to, but I can't. Yeah, people want to work, but they don't have the skill set or the qualifications to do it. If that makes sense.
Jeremy Perkins 37:02
No, that I mean, that's that's actually interesting. From what I'm seeing out in our area, we had a hard time getting anybody to push a broom to scrub the toilet. Nevermind, want to learn oil change. But to speak to your point. Some of the some of the biggest jobs, some of the some of the most detrimental jobs to a business owner or entry level, right? Tires. And oil changes will turn the shop upside down if done improperly. I mean, you lose, you lose a tire on a highway, and it kills somebody or you lose that drain plug falls out or that oil filters not put on properly, then you're eating the motors. And it's crazy that those are just entry level jobs. Like I need a tire and lube tech. I'll teach you and it's like, these are like basic foundation. This is this is some serious shit right in like foot in the door stuff.
Mike Pfeffer 38:01
Same thing with brakes. Yeah, most tire lube and brakes and that's your safety system.
Jeremy Perkins 38:11
We're not, we're not even talking about like, comfort features starts, you know, alarm problems. You know, hey, my, my, my OnStar doesn't work like any of that shit we're talking about and that's, that's top level tech stuff. We're talking about basic stuff is like a kid out of high school. That I mean, you need to be on point from day one. That's wild. Yeah. I think that's one of the firt that's, that's uh, we're one of those industries that's actually pretty unique that your entry level tech is has probably some of the most serious jobs to deal with, even though the most menial tasks, if you will.
Mike Pfeffer 38:58
Yeah, and the one I got now is not a real big self starter. Jobs get something done. doesn't know what to do next. And he's he's been here for probably almost a year now. And I've explained to him like, I got the whole schedule up on the computer how in the shop, you could walk over to it see what's scheduled for today. And what's already been here since yesterday or what's coming in, in the next month. Yeah, and you just don't get it? Yeah. You can't teach it and then a lot of it is you got to have that was mechanical, no house, so you got to be mechanically inclined. Yep. You can't teach that either. If you don't have mechanical know how you you can teach them a little bit but they're never going to I don't think they're ever gonna grow to their full potential.
Jeremy Perkins 39:50
Yeah, and and, and there's a place for those guys too, right? Yeah. Some some of those guys will. I mean, I saw it. I had a I had a 50 year old tactic It was just ball joints, brakes, you know, suspension work. And that was it. I mean, old dog. And then there was, you know, 20 year old kid that was, you know, reprogram and modules and chasing down opens on, on wires and everything that I mean, there's it's funny in the automotive industry there's a place for everybody. But ya know, it's a self starter if you want to make it to the top.
Mike Pfeffer 40:30
Yeah, I'm, I'm trying to teach him and mean, he's working out. He's got the occasional mishap where things come back and we deal with it. But that's on me. I'm trying, I'm trying to give him the benefit of the doubt. I want him to do good. I want him to succeed. But a lot of it's been more bad than good.
Jeremy Perkins 40:52
It sounds like you're pretty patient. Yeah. That's good. I mean,
Mike Pfeffer 40:57
everybody tells me, that's
Jeremy Perkins 41:02
awesome. So I think we've, we've crushed the automotive industry, at a high level, but outside of your job, and what you do on a daily basis, what do you like to do, you know, to unwind.
Mike Pfeffer 41:19
And pretty much boring, shower, eat, sit in front of a TV, just, you know, watch shows do to escape from the world? It's something
Jeremy Perkins 41:31
that has been that has been like the number one answer from so well, it's probably the number two answer the number one answer is, there is no off time. It's just always, like when I'm home, I'm thinking about what I got to do throughout the day. Or some people will say like, I'm prepping for the next day. But yeah, the other thing is,
Mike Pfeffer 41:53
I do that as well. But watching TV or looking at emails from a customer responding back to a customer thinking about what the next day is, like you said, watching YouTube videos is something I've like, whoa, I've never seen this before, because I don't know everything. So I'm constantly learning and search and stuff up doing research on different systems and getting familiar with them. Because everything like you said, it's constantly changing. It's evolving. Especially technology.
Jeremy Perkins 42:25
My first seven three diesel, high pressure oil pump change. I want to thank God for this man. Because you can go step by step, but we know step by step is not always it takes me a month of Sundays to do it. I fast forwarded to the part, I took everything apart, I fast forwarded to the part where I was stuck. This guy put a GoPro on from start to finish eight hours, the entire changing out the high pressure oil pump and putting it all back together. And I was like, oh shit. That's how you do it. And it was because of YouTube. And my boss used to bust my balls about it. He's like, Hey, what are you a YouTube mechanic? And I'm like, I mean, it's there. Like why would I
Mike Pfeffer 43:14
use it? Sometimes it's got better info than identify it's all dead or metal. I'm to the point where I met him metal duty gives you some of the wrong info or mislead you?
Jeremy Perkins 43:26
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, no, that's that's a very valid point. So last question I asked and this is a this one's This one's good for me because I I'll tell you what mine is. But what's the number one tool that you would that you would get in the trade so in your trade, and it could be you know, today as a top mechanic or entry level? And I always say the number one tool I always went for was actually my pry bar but I'll let I'll open it up to you what what is your number one tool that you go to all the time
Mike Pfeffer 44:08
number one tool probably your half inch impact? Yeah. That and the flashlight
Jeremy Perkins 44:17
Oh, that's true. The flashlight as well. Yeah, I had actually, I don't
Mike Pfeffer 44:22
know you're taking you're taking wheels off and other other stuff. Most of the time doing inspections. Pry Bar is a big one because you're using it to check suspensions and all that and whatever else getting shit off. Pardon my French
Jeremy Perkins 44:38
Yeah, no, I mean, actually the streamlines. I love these fucking things. They're the best. But I almost want to cry when I lose one. I got about like four or five of them rebuilt for life, whatever. But
Mike Pfeffer 44:52
yeah, they're expensive, but they're worth
Jeremy Perkins 44:54
100% 100% Sweet Sweet. So my This was awesome. Definitely got down and dirty. We'll do another podcast for all the gear heads out there that that want to know more about the industry. But yeah, Mike Pfeffer 45:11 I feel like I fumbled my words a bit, but it was good.
Jeremy Perkins 45:15
No, no, no, no. It's, though the way I look at it is it's true. It's I mean, it's from the trades. I mean, you're in it every frickin day. And, you know, it's so real. I never leave. So, if anybody and you have an actual, you have an unbelievably loyal following, there, you you have a group of people that watch you for your day in and day out, they, they put their faith in you, they put the trust in you, you've gained their trust, you've earned their trust. If anybody wanted to reach out to you want to know more about your business or, or the industry itself, where can they reach you at?
Mike Pfeffer 46:03
I would say messenger, but that gets flooded and it usually gets sent to spam and I don't see it. So email is the best way. And I've got that listed on my Facebook where it's auto tech Mike and the number firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeremy Perkins 46:18
Awesome. So if you need to speak to Mike, you had a question, you know, do you want to know more about it? Hit mike up. And, Mike, I thank you for being on the podcast and thank you for having awesome and as a special thanks to our loyal listeners. Were giving $10 off your next purchase of $60 or more at brunch workwear.com Use Discount Code bucket talk. And that's bucket talk. 10
Seasoned mechanic @autotechmike is bursting with mechanic knowledge as is our host and former mechanic Jeremy Perkins. This week’s episode is a treat with these two chatting about anything and everything mechanic. The boys go on about all the crazy problems mechanics deal with from disposing of hazardous waste, troubles of being a mobile mechanic, working in a shop after being mobile and much more.
Mike got his start as a trash picking mechanic finding anything on someone's curb and fixing it up for a resale. From here Mike became a mobile mechanic driving around helping those broken down on the side of the road to moving into a shop and eventually becoming the owner of said shop.
Other than problems we get to hear some hilarious stories about crazy clients who gave the guys some hard times. Although they could’ve gone all day with crazy personal stories, Jeremy and Mike finish it off with how to work through problems and the difficulties of having the responsibilities of a business owner.