Taking inventory of my career

Nov. 24, 2015
My children want no part of this auto parts business that I've built. For that, I am sad, but at least I’ve raised some pretty intelligent kids.

In the days of my youth, I welcomed the changing seasons of business. Now it seems that the older I get the more I worry that each change will evoke tears and jeers from my staff as well as myself. I am becoming a grumpy old man in spite of the fact I vowed never to become a McCrudgeon.

Lots of folks refer to this mood swing as the winter blahs, to them I just say blah. I’ve gotten to the point that all of these changes have simply worn me to a fraction of the enthusiastic jobber that I used to be. I’ve decided that I cannot continue the same path anymore. Therefore, consider this my resignation.

I resign that someone is always gonna have something better priced than me. Being the cheapest has never really made me any money.

I do not have a psychology degree, although 30 years of this crap should entitle me to an honorary doctorate of something. However, sometimes employees and customers are just buttheads. I can’t fix them.

I have given over half of my life to this industry; this industry has taken the remainder. I will always envy others who don’t have to work six or seven days a week and get to take real vacations. But, I should have figured that out way before now. Suck it up buttercup.

I have missed so many of my family events paying due diligence to our business that I feel like an outsider when I do get to attend the occasional birthday, wedding or funeral of a family member. My family has become my business associates and ever-changing group of gypsy-like employees.

The telephone has morphed into an evil device that I hate. Google and other robot callers have possessed the soul of my phone system, which results in unnecessary panic trying to answer calls that have satanic pre-recorded parasitic messages that ungraciously interrupt my hurried greeting. And, who in the heck is “prophet Manessa?”

There is no loyalty. Loyalty is a myth, like dragons, pixies and leprechauns. Bigfoot is not a myth, but I bet he’d eat any kind of beef jerky, so I do question his loyalty.

You should never eat pickled eggs and drink a lot of beer if you have to work the next day.

I will never have an advertising budget like the big box retailers. We will just keep up our guerilla warfare advertising campaign, taking pop shots whenever we can, then fade back into the bush only to re-emerge as opportunity permits.

People who self-diagnose and buy parts online only to then call and ask me what I think is wrong with their car should be horse whipped. I am now going to tell them the main problem is a mirror-based issue and they should look into that first.

Gear-head car junkies should always work on their own vehicles. I cannot make you happy. Your ego is far greater than my realm of capability.

If you have a doctor, dentist or hair appointment, there is no need to make an appointment for a complete tune-up 10 minutes prior to your other appointments. Flash Gordon is not one of my technicians.

My wife really loves me. This business has occupied, interrupted, and mangled our time with and without each other. She deserves more, but has settled for far less than was possible.

My children want no part of this business. For that, I am sad, but at least I’ve raised some pretty intelligent kids.

I’m underpaid, overworked, stressed out most of the time and generally unappreciated. But, I’ve grown accustomed to those things.

And finally, I’d make a pretty good employee.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Why in the heck would anyone in his or her right mind want to start a new independent repair shop or jobber store?  It has got to be one of the most complex, least profitable, competition riddled, and highest cost for infrastructure businesses short of opening an Emergicare type mini-hospital. Why do it?  Because most of us are good at what we do. We manage all of the above and more, and more and more. 

So what’s gonna happen when all of us baby boomers retire, quit, sell out or go under? Some of us will be replaced by a newer generation of owners of course, but I anticipate most will not, we will just fade into the sunset or possibly sink into the abyss. Our expertise will become new folklore amongst the new industry leaders wherein nostalgic stories of “Mark who owned Wholesale Auto Parts didn’t even need a computer (book, if you are real old-school), he’d just go back and pick it off the shelf.”

That’s the way it is. I can’t change the inevitable truth. The beginning of the end? I don’t know about that, but Old Man Winter is definitely coming. 

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