Surprise Auto Repair

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CLIENTS REVIEWS

“Service was excellent. They even showed me areas under the car that needed to be taken care over the next several months. I will be doing all my future car maintenance with Wilhelm. Great Job.”
Thomas Forrest
5
“Fantastic service. They fixed my BMW, just as good as the dealership, but for hundreds of dollars less. I highly recommend Wilhelm and will recommend them to all my friends and family. Thank you Wilhelm!”
Jason Duke
5

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ANNOUNCEMENT

Wilhelm Extends Warranty!

If you have visited our store in the last month, you may have noticed we have now added another year to our warranty. That’s right, Wilhelm now has a 36,000 Mile/ 36 Month warranty on our work. We stand behind what we do.

Our President, Chris Garman had this to say about the announcement:

"We put the highest emphasis on the quality of our work. We have great technicians at each of our seven locations and we are confident in standing behind our work." He continued, "With the ever changing technology in the automotive world, its vital our technicians remain up to date with all the changes. Our 36 month, 36,000 mile warranty gives our customers peace of mind when it comes to all of their automotive repair needs."

It's easy to book an appointment online. Simply pick the closest location to you and give us a note of what you are looking for and our team will get back to you.

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Welcome to Wilhelm Auto Repair & Service Centers Arizona

In 1928, Wilhelm Automotive first set down roots in Peoria, Arizona. Fast forward 88 years and we are still here and going strong. We now have 7 stores all across the valley continuing to serve our customers. With stores in Peoria, Surprise, Litchfield, Cave Creek, Goodyear, Arcadia and our most recent store in Happy Valley, the business continues to focus on building relationships with customers and helping the surrounding community. One of our core values in the business has always been about giving back with our philanthropic projects. This January, we were delighted to hear we had been nominated for the Peoria business of the month for January. Here is our president, Chris Garman receiving the award from Peoria Major Cathy Carlat.

A History of Service Excellence

The Roots of an 89 year business.

Wilhelm Automotive’s longtime presence in Arizona began in the late 1880s when the original settlers arrived from Peoria, Illinois. Tuck Blackwell set up a blacksmith shop to serve the hardy souls making the desert their new home. He eventually sold his shop, and it became the Jennings Brother’s Garage.

In 1928, young Joe Wilhelm who was only in his early 20s partnered up with his uncle John Ansel to buy the Jennings Brother’s Garage, and they opened Wilhelm Garage. The farmers of the early West Valley depended on Wilhelm Garage to keep their machinery in running order —often accepting crates of vegetables as payment.

In 1979, Joe Wilhelm looked to sell the business. He would only sell to someone who had the same ideals and beliefs that he did because he wanted the business to keep the reputation it had earned over the years. Up stepped Charley and Mary Jane Gyder.

They were tapped as the next generation of business owners in 1996, and Wilhelm Automotive expanded to occupy five locations, with the Peoria operation remaining as the company headquarters. Today Chris Garman, grandson of Charley and Mary Jane Gyder, is the 3rd generation to run the family business.

Chris Garman joined the family business in the year 2000. As President Chris is responsible for managing the home office team, managing the business office and company wide support for all of our auto repair facilities. Marketing to our customer needs is his specialty.

History
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Shop Profile: Destiny Destination

“I didn’t want to have anything to do with it,” maintains Chris Garman, even though he ‘s co-owner of the Wilhelm Automotive chain of service centers in metropolitan Phoenix. “I wanted to be so far away when I was a kid it wasn’t even funny.”

Started in 1928 by Joe Wilhelm, Garman’s grandparents took over in 1978 what was then a single shop in Peoria. They had five sons, all of whom participated in the business; by 1988 Garman’s father began the process of expansion when he opened a second store.

“On the weekends I’d go up to the shop and I would do anything and everything I could do not to actually touch a car,” Garman recollects. “I’d have to pull weeds, sweep and clean up.”

But Garman was destined for the industry.“I was off at college when my uncle Thom approached me in 2000 with an opportunity to work for the family business and go to school at the same time. I didn’t really have any intentions of being a part of the management structure.”

At this point Wilhelm Automotive had three stores, and it wasn’t long before Garman realized he was actually enjoying the work. First he was in charge of the marketing; within a couple of years he was doing the books; by ’05 he was general manager of the company. He finished his MBA, but by now Garman was fully on board, eventually becoming the company’s president.

“There is no average day,” laughs Garman. “My duties include all the planning and budgeting, all the financial authorization, overseeing all of our HR and marketing, as well as our operations manager. Everything else on the support side of it is fully my responsibility. Thom is the Chairman of the Board, so he makes sure I do my job.”

“It’s challenging,” he notes. “Working with the family is not always easy. But I take some pride in being part of the third generation.” His father has since retired, but under Garman’s supervision Wilhelm Automotive began expanding again, more than doubling in size as four more locations were added-- and one more is currently under construction.

Wilhelm Automotive

“We don’t grow quickly, at least by our standards,” explains Garman. “We try to be smart about it. It’s not like we’ve set a mandate; we don’t want two stores every year for the next 10 years. We’ll look at opportunities, and when they make sense we’ll be ready, by making sure we have the staff internally to operate these facilities. Those people are then responsible for running each shop like it’s their own; we give them a lot of autonomy to make decisions. We also like to be involved in our communities by hiring employees from within each one to help be a part of it.”

So what’s the company’s model for expansion? “I can’t divulge that,” Garman exclaims. “That’s the secret sauce! But I can say that we look for areas of growth where the city is expanding. We look for opportunities where we can fit into a community that has the right demographic, and that’s key. We don’t want the super-wealthy, we want a good mix of middle income, middle class Americans who see value in service—that’s our niche. We’re not the cheapest guy on the block, we’re certainly not the most expensive, but we feel that we provide an above-average level of service and value to our customers.”

To oversee this growing enterprise, Garman used to meet regularly with shop managers and “talked a lot,” but about a year ago he decided to create the post of Operations Manager and promote from within. “His responsibility is to work with the stores to make sure they have everything they need,” he reports. “We support them centrally; we have a marketing person, a bookkeeper and a human resources person, all of who help and support each one of our locations with anything they may need.”

It’s roughly around this time that Wilhelm Automotive also began experimenting with various forms of marketing. “We’ve always done a pretty healthy dose of (promotion),” notes Garman, “but after I joined a 20 group last year, I found out that I don’t spend as much money as some other guys that do as much volume as we do.”

Wilhelm Automotive does a fair bit of internet, and have always done direct mail for existing customers, but now they are willing to try some new things. We make sure that we have in place the ability to measure and track how effective our campaigns are,” Garman explains. “We stick with the things that work, cut and trim the things that don’t, and figure out what we’ll try next year. We’ve done some newspaper articles, some television sponsorship last year; the newspaper worked for a period of time.”

Sometimes the company wants to get into a specific market, like hybrids/electrics. “It’s not a huge percentage of our market; 5 percent, maybe a little more,” Garman reports. “But in 2013 it was less than probably .1 percent, so it’s growing and we want to be a part of that. There’s no real hybrid training on the market, so we partnered with a company called the Hybrid Shop, bought into the rights to their franchisees here in Phoenix. What came of that was training support. We’ll continue to market for that segment in 2015 and beyond.”

And has Garman ever gotten over not wanting to deal with cars? “When I go into the shop I’m allowed to shake hands and smile; they don’t let me touch anything because they fear I’ll break it,” he laughs. “But I love the industry; it’s been a really rewarding experience for me. Now that I’m 38, looking back, at the end of the day it’s a decision I certainly don’t regret.”

And he certainly looks forward to when the company will be 100 years old—in just 12 years.

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OUR SERVICES

Wilhelm Automotive Service Centers are ready to assist you.

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AC Inspection and Common
AC problems to watch out for

There are certain things you just cannot handle in the Arizona summer heat. AC in your car is certainly one of them. If you are travelling to and from work every day, it is vital your car AC system is in good standing. With 100 degree + temperatures just around the corner (sorry to remind you), having your cars AC inspected and blowing cold can be the difference between a smooth, comfortable commute to work and a disastrous journey.

Common AC Problems

I know there are a lot of do it yourself automotive mechanics out there which is great. We love anyone who is interested in the industry and we are here to help expand your knowledge. However, your Air Conditioning system inspection is something we highly recommend to get performed by a trained/certified expert. The climate control system can be dangerous to service and it’s not something that is always diagnosed easily. If your air is blowing warmer or “not like it used to”, there are many issues than can cause this not just that your Freon is running low. It could be one of the following issues and even more:

  • Fans not working
  • Engine running hot
  • Computer can turn it off due to a pressure issue or other electrical fault.

If it is low on Freon due to a leak, one other thing to keep in mind is, this could affect your level of your air conditioning compressor oil which could lead to further damage. If you start to notice that your AC system’s effectiveness is becoming worse, then get it inspected sooner rather than later as it can cause lead to more costly to repair with time. As Mike mentions in the video, if you catch something like this early, it is a relatively easy fix. If you continue to drive with your system attempting to operate in a weakened state then the problem could become more complicated and the fix may become more difficult.

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Wilhelm Automotive was again recently featured in well known auto magazine, Ratchet + Wrench.

Wilhelm Automotive was again recently featured in well known auto magazine, Ratchet + Wrench. The feature gives an insight of what goes on behind closed doors in the Marketing department for all 7 of our locations. It is called, “Mindful marketing” and the whole article can be found on the link here: https://www.ratchetandwrench.com/articles/4154-mindful-marketing/ ;

We here at Wilhelm Automotive are extremely proud to be featured in the nation's leading source for complete auto care coverage, and hope that the article provides some interesting insight to our business!

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Our Feature in Ratchet + Wrench!

Wilhelm Automotive was recently featured in "Shop Views" of Ratchet + Wrench, a magazine that showcases strategies and inspiration for auto care success. The feature gives you a look inside the vintage lobby of our Peoria location's lobby.

We here at Wilhelm Automotive are extremely proud to be featured in the nation's leading source for complete auto care coverage, and hope that the article provides some interesting insight to our business!

Check out the full article by clicking here!
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Check out the Wilhelm Automotive Car Care article in The Arizona Republic!

Car Care: Take cars that misfire regularly to a repair shop, where mechanics should check for bad spark plugs or an ignition boot failure.

Check out the full article by clicking here!
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Trusted RelationshipNB|AZ HELPS HISTORIC AUTO REPAIR BUSINESS CONTINUE TO GROWread more

Wilhelm Annual Food Drive brings in hundreds of pounds of food for those in need.

Food Drive

Wilhelm Automotive, a Valley family-owned and operated automotive repair shop, hosted it 18th annual holiday food drive this past November. This year Wilhelm combined its efforts to support not only people, but pets too. Patrons generously donated food at Wilhelm locations to benefit the Foothills Food Bank and Resource Center and Valley View Community Food Bank as well as Chuck Waggin’ Pet Food Pantry. More than 300 pounds of human food and about 75 pounds of pet food were donated by Wilhelm customers this year.

The Foothills Food Bank and Resource Center provides emergency food, financial assistance and other life necessities and resources to individuals and families in the northern desert foothills communities. The mission of the Valley View Community Food Bank is to serve the Northwest Valley communities with love and respect for those who are in need of a good and wholesome nutritious food box.

The main purpose of the Chuck Waggin’ pet food pantry is to provide pet and pet service referrals to keep pets and the families who love them together.

Those who donated were rewarded with a discount coupon for a future auto repair visit at Wilhelm.

“We’re so grateful to our wonderful customers and community for their continued support of our efforts to reach out to those in need during the holiday season. Their kindness is a reflection of the kind of company values Wilhelm has always represented,” said Wilhelm President Chris Garman.

Wilhelm Automotive Receives Customer Service Honors

Peoria, Ariz.—Wilhelm Automotive, the Valley’s oldest family owned and operated automotive repair business, was honored with the award for Superior Customer Service by automotive service industry information technology provider Kukui, at their industry awards event this past January.

"The team at Wilhelm Automotive surpassed our highest expectations. They utilize our platform to the fullest, and provide only the best customer service to their clients. We are proud to name them the winners of Superior Customer Service for the 2015 Kukui Industry Awards,” said Kukui CEO Todd Matthews Westerlund.

For 87 Years, Wilhelm has made their customer’s satisfaction their number one priority. From the beginning, the company’s mission has stated: The heart and soul of our company is people. Our actions at any given moment will reflect our commitment to each other, our customers, our families, our company and the communities in which we all live and work, in our on-going pursuit to be the absolute best automotive repair facilities in Arizona.

“At Wilhelm, we work hard every day to ensure we have gained our customers’ respect and trust in our work, and we back up that effort with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. We treat our customers like family, and they have paid us back with their loyalty over our many years in the Valley,” said Wilhelm President Chris Garman.

We are AskPatty
Certified

Kukui Award

Wilhelm Automotive is a family- owned and operated award-winning automotive repair and maintenance business that has been serving the Valley since 1928. Wilhelm has always made community support a top priority by being involved with organizations such as St. Mary’s Westside Food Bank, TheaterWorks, Peoria Center for the Arts, Girl Scouts and the American Cancer Society. Wilhelm currently has seven locations in Tatum Ranch, Litchfield Park, Peoria, Goodyear and Surprise, Arcadia/Phoenix and Happy Valley. Additional information can be found at our website at www.wilhelmautomotive.com

About San Jose, CA based Kukui: With a rich history in information technology, Kukui provides businesses with a custom website platform and software solution that integrates with each organization’s Point of Sale (POS) system. This empowers each of Kukui’s clients with quantitative data showing their monetary return on investment, the number of new clients based on their POS system, statistics revealing their customer retention rate, and areas to improve business through the tracking of phone calls and appointment forms.

ASE Certified
Technicians

Wilhelm Automotive named a national Motor Age TOP SHOP

In its annual ranking of top automotive repair facilities, Motor Age magazine has recognized Wilhelm Automotive as one of the top ten best shops in the country. Wilhelm Auto was the only shop in Arizona among the top ten.

Motor Age, a monthly trade journal supporting independent automotive service providers by providing professional information, made the announcement of their fourth annual Top Shop winners this week. According to Motor Age, Wilhelm ‘demonstrated strengths in marketing, technology in the repair bays, customer relations and community service, among other attributes.

“We are thrilled to be nationally recognized for the values we uphold in our business every day. For 81 years, our customers and team members have been the heart and soul of our company, and we constantly strive to be the absolute best automotive repair shop in Arizona. We are especially proud that we have accomplished this as a family business for three generations,” said Chris Garman, Wilhelm Automotive General Manager.

Motor Age

The Top Shop selection process included the review of a thorough application that included a company profile, visual tour and information about Wilhelm Auto’s history, mission, employee philosophy, customer service and community service, among other areas. Wilhelm ranked seventh among the other repair shops from around the nation.

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