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Small New York auto repair shop has roots in mobile service

Tuesday, June 27, 2017 - 07:00
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Mobile service is something that trends in various industries; for instance food trucks are right now providing a moveable feast in town squares across the country. Tomorrow something else might gain traction in this trundled trade: laundromats, physical therapy, plastic recycling—who knows?

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However Rod Reisdorf of Grand Island, NY, can report with some certainty that auto repair is one industry which doesn’t lend itself completely or easily to mobile service. “There were only certain things I could do,” he reports, “and some days I couldn’t even work because it was raining out or snowing really bad.”

At a Glance:
Mr. Best Wrench
Rod and Adam Reisdorf
No. of shops
Years in business
No. of technicians
6,000 - shop; 3,200 - storage building
Square footage of shop
No. of bays
No. of customer vehicles per week
Annual gross revenue

Because unlike the mobile food industry, customers didn’t come to him, Reisdorf had to go to them. Still, there were some advantages for a young technician going out on his own in 1985. “Your overhead is not that much, just the (transportation) and tools. I started out part time, working out of my trunk fixing peoples’ cars in their driveways,” he recalls.

And his wife came up with a catchy name: Mr. Best Wrench--two steps better than being merely ‘good.’ Ironically a Google search yields another Mr. Best Wrench in Florida, but this is just a coincidence, not a franchise. “I actually thought about starting a franchise at one time,” Reisdorf remarks, “but I just had too much to do at the time.”

He quickly graduated to a van, in which he went to abodes and businesses “doing all sorts of repairs, whether it was an engine job, exhaust or brakes,” Reisdorf explains. “I used to have a full Sun scope in the back of one of my vans and used that for tune-ups, power balancing, and testing cylinders. I probably went through three different vans during that period.”

Reisdorf even expanded briefly into another mobile service, oil changes and light maintenance for fleets, which he did on weekends--but found himself a bit overwhelmed. “I couldn’t run both businesses at the same time, working seven days a week; it just wasn’t fun anymore,” he concedes.

“If I’m at someone’s location, I’m working on my back with jacks and jack stands; it’s much harder work,” Reisdorf explains. “You can only do so many of those jobs per day, plus you have to go after parts; and you need to do one or two jobs a day because you’re running around so much. But if you’re doing an engine or cylinder heads, that’s a couple days right there at one location.”

The change he needed to make ultimately came down to him either buying a bigger vehicle--or finally committing to a brick and mortar shop. After playing around with the idea of getting into the quick oil change business, Reisdorf bought a building in 1998 and proceeded to fashion himself a facility. “I put a lot of money into this,” he states. “Driveway, roof—it was an old factory so there was nothing in here when I moved in.”

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