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Advanced Transmission: nonbook learning

A formal education later in life meshes with street lessons to make this shop owner a success.
Thursday, July 26, 2012 - 13:27
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Marvin Wilson proudly states that, “education was and is the driving force to our success,” a fact born out by his Advanced Transmission shop holding a variety of classes for local technicians for several years now.

His accomplishments are all the more remarkable when you consider Wilson struggled through school and didn’t really learn to read until after his daughter was born. Overcoming such obstacles has given him a passion that is hard to beat.

Specializing in custom built, high performance, personal and commercial use transmission repair, the Spanish Fort, Ala., facility also hosts classes for Snap-On, Automotive Wiring & Repair, the Educational Seminar Institute and Vetronix/Bosch, as well as seminars for the Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association (ATRA), the Automatic Transmission Service Group (ATSG), AC Delco, CARQUEST, Online specialty tool training and Communiqué. All employees are required to achieve certification through ATRA and ASE within the first six months of employment.

But Wilson’s involvement with ATRA doesn’t end there. For more than 15 years, his wife, Laura, served as secretary and president of ATRA’s Gulf States Chapter, as well as six years on their International Board of Directors in California. For his part, Wilson served for 10 years on the technical advisory board of the Alabama-based Alto Products Corporation, an international transmission parts manufacturer, and assisted in their training classes in Mexico City.

The Road Less Traveled
He’s come a long way. At age 14, Wilson began helping his father, the late Woodrow “Woody” Wilson, at their transmission shop in Eight-Mile, Ala. At 17, he went full time, devoting himself totally to the discipline of rebuilding transmissions. But with the start of his own family, Wilson pushed himself to master the written word, and in 1994 he and Laura opened their own shop across the bay from Mobile and Eight-Mile.

Eventually buying land to build the current facility, since 2010 they also have done general automotive and air condition repair. Nationwide warranties are offered on most of their transmission work.

A hands-on boss, Wilson is the lead technician of a team of four. Constantly looking to streamline the operation, the shop runs on a non-verbal communication process, using a procedure based on a customer chart flow system that “insures minimal communication error, increasing productivity with few distractions, allowing production to flow smoothly,” writes Wilson.

To keep things running smoothly, each employee briefly moderates weekly shop meetings with the topic or concern of their choice. The Wilsons oversee longer monthly meetings, but to keep things light they throw in lunch and fun activities like a 15 minute massage for all employees, or a ceremony with each employee receiving a humorous award or a gift certificate for “customer service in abundance.”

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