How to fix Chad’s Auto Repair
New York’s Chad Smith has a pretty amazing story.
His father was a machinist, his mother was a housewife, and they lived on a farm in central Pennsylvania.
Smith had a knack for making his dad’s old, worn-out cars and trucks work.
He’d fix the car’s wiring and the engine and turn on the gas pedal.
When his dad died, Smith rebuilt the engine himself.
The car had a broken radiator, and when it broke, it broke the front of the car, and so Smith spent years fixing the radiator.
He also fixed the gas cap and windshield.
Then he got sick of it, and started fixing the car himself.
That’s when he started hiring people to do his work.
When I got in there, I got the job, he told me, adding, “They don’t know how to fix cars, but they sure do fix my job.”
Smith says he can still repair the old cars in his shop, and he does, too.
I could do anything.
When the car started to get old, I could see how it was breaking, he said.
And then I could fix it.
But when I started doing this for myself, I had to change the way I worked.
Now, I can do the work.
I work with old cars, Smith says.
I can get to the parts.
I’ll go out there and work with them, he says.
“I’m able to get to my work in the blink of an eye.”
So Smith has learned to fix old cars on his own.
He hired a mechanic from his shop to come by, but he didn’t want to give him a job.
So he turned to Craigslist, where people post job openings and offers for auto repair jobs.
And, like all the other Craigslist sites, he made a list.
“My list of things I was looking for was like a checklist,” he says, noting that he found a mechanic with the right qualifications and a lot of experience working on the car.
The mechanics he hired were all young, and the job was for $35 an hour, plus tips.
“It’s just not like you go out and do a job that’s going to make you millionaires,” Smith says, “and it’s like, ‘You know what?
I can fix your car.'”
He hired three guys from his own shop, each with five years of experience.
But he wanted to have a full-time mechanic on the side, so he went to a car dealer and bought one of their trucks.
When he started, he had the job for two weeks.
Then one of his mechanics had a problem.
The truck had a cracked fender, and his repair crew found it and had to fix it, Smith said.
So they replaced the fender.
“They had to replace it over and over again,” Smith said, adding that he had to have the car inspected a hundred times to be sure everything was working properly.
He then had to go back to the dealer to get the truck fixed, and then he had a new truck, and all that was left was the old one.
“And then you go home and you have to pay for that,” Smith continued.
“When I go home I just feel like I’ve been robbed.”
When Smith got back to his shop after the second week, he discovered that his mechanic had a heart condition.
So Smith said he’d call the car dealer.
And the dealer did, and a couple of weeks later the car was fixed.
“So I’m like, I’m doing fine,” Smith recalls.
“That’s the best thing that could have happened.”
In fact, it turned out that the dealership had hired a contractor to fix the truck.
So when the mechanic came to fix his own car, he was given $1,200 in free labor and told to go home, Smith told me.
That was just the tip of the iceberg.
“We got people from all over the country,” Smith told NPR’s Marketplace, and in the weeks since he’s hired another mechanic and a mechanic who have five years’ experience working for him.
Smith told Marketplace that the job is really just getting people on the phone, making them feel comfortable.
It’s just that feeling of ownership and responsibility, he added.
He’s also been impressed by the response from the community.
“What I’ve heard is so positive,” he said, “people want to do the same thing and are happy to do it, because it’s their job.”
For the past two years, Smith has been putting a lot more effort into finding new people to work on the cars he’s fixing.
The reason, he explained, is that there’s not a lot else to do.
“If you have a new car, there’s nothing for you to do,” he told Marketplace.
“There’s nothing you can do.”
So he’s going back to work after he finishes