Hello, my name is Rob “Dutch” Silverstein and I am the President of A&M Auto Service. I started A&M over 17 years ago working part time out of a rented single bay in the back of a body shop (next-door to our present location). At that time, I was also a Captain for a major airline. In order to fully understand what would motivate someone who is piloting aircraft across the country to work nearly seven days a week for nine years, some background information is required.
Aviation is a cyclical business: when things are good, the airline grows, more pilots are hired and your career advances so that you may move up in seniority and achieve advancement in rank and pay. When things go badly, the reverse is true: loss of rank, seniority, and pay. Then insecurity abounds, after all your job might be the next to be eliminated. Add to the mix the volatility of career- driven Chief Executive Officers whose sole purpose is to seemingly line their pockets at the expense of the employees, creditors & shareholders, and you have a recipe for many sleepless nights and an uncertain future. This was a lesson that I was first to learn while attending college.
Someone once told me that to succeed in business, it was necessary to do something that you love to do; something that gave you a great deal of satisfaction, something that you did really well. For me, that left just two things; flying and working with my hands repairing cars. Ever since I was a boy, the Good Lord gave me the ability of understanding and repairing things mechanical. I was and am today truly grateful for this gift as I don’t have any other. I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, can’t play sports worth a lick, can’t play any musical instrument, well, you get the point.
While in college, I met a nice fellow who was repairing the pinball machines at the school. A brief conversation ensued and I asked him if it was his full-time occupation or was it just a part-time job? Much to my surprise the repair man answered that he was a Captain for Eastern Airlines. This caught me totally off guard as it was well known at that time that an Eastern 727 Captain earned roughly a Cadillac a month in pay. When I asked him why he was repairing pinball machines instead of playing golf somewhere he answered me this way “Son, in this business you’d better have a backup.” Fast forward some 12 years later to the hardware department of Sears right here in Charlotte. I stopped by Sears after flying a trip, intent on buying a lawn mower. The salesman sees me in my pilot’s uniform and begins to chat. It soon becomes apparent to me that this man has an intimate knowledge of my chosen profession. He was asking questions that only someone in the industry might ask and using terminology that is generally industry-specific. When I asked just how he knows so much about my job he reaches into his pocket and proudly shows me a copy of his pilot’s certificate, not just any certificate mind you, an Airline Transport Pilots certificate with a Boeing 727 Type rating. It seems that he, too, was a Captain for the once mighty Eastern Airlines and after they went bankrupt, he lost everything he had. That’s when the pinball repair man’s advice came right back to me: “Son, in this business you’d better have a backup.”
From that point on, I became consumed with finding “my backup plan”. Things in my beloved airline were changing and, in my opinion, not changing for the better. Corporate acquisitions, mergers, seniority integration and general career instability were the rule, not the exception. The thought of leaving my future in the hands of those in management, who willingly and sometimes enthusiastically proved their ineptitude day after day, haunted me. I had to find something else.
That leads us back to the beginning of this little story, starting A&M Auto Service. I started repairing my friends’ cars, then their friends’ and families’ cars, scheduling appointments to work on my days off at the airline. Pretty soon word got around and I was interviewed by a local newspaper. I moved into the building next door, renting two bays (pictured below), working 15 to 18 hours at a stretch. Business was good and I invested all the proceeds back into the business, without drawing a salary, to buy diagnostic equipment. Some of which are pictured here. I specialized in diagnostics because I love the challenge of mastering vehicle systems of cars as they become more and more complex. For more information regarding our diagnostic capabilities, click on our expertise page. Well, pretty soon, two days weren’t enough so I expanded again, this time absorbing the business that was here and now I’m happy to say that we have seven bays to service the needs of our customers.
As my business continued to grow I soon recognized the public’s need for an honest, integrity driven, low sales pressure repair facility. A shop that is motivated to educate each customer and address his/her automotive needs individually. One that is focused on doing the RIGHT thing, not some distant Corporate or Franchise Business Model idea of the right thing, but THE right thing for each customer.
As the owner of this facility, that is my promise to you: You will NEVER be pressured to have any service work performed while your vehicle is here. Unlike most repair facilities, our employees don’t work on commission so there’s never any pressure to make recommendations for things your car doesn’t genuinely need. IF we make a recommendation for maintenance or repair it’s based the results of a Comprehensive 30 Point Courtesy Check with emphasis placed on Safety and Reliability taking into account the manufacturers recommendations for maintenance. If you elect to have the repairs made you will have the security and peace of mind of knowing that we offer a NATIONWIDE TWO-YEAR/24,000 MILE PARTS AND LABOR WARRANTY ON MOST REPAIRS. If you decide to not have the repair made, that’s okay too, at least I will be able to sleep well at night knowing that I’ve done the right thing by giving you the information that you, as a car owner, need to best protect your investment. Safety was my primary concern while piloting aircraft, and so it remains today.