Owner-Manager, 8216 Watson RoadLori Lucas fell in love with cars at a young age. As a teenager, she could tell the make and model of most cars in the dark, just by the headlights. Lori graduated from Lindbergh High School in 1979 and began her automotive career in 1980 at an import automotive warehouse. In six years Lori worked her way up the ladder to become general manager of the warehouse.
In 1995 Lori gave birth to Sam. While on maternity leave, Lori got a fantastic job offer from a repair shop in downtown Webster Groves (RPM Automotive). The new job would work out better for Lori in two ways: a better schedule to allow her to care for Sam, and a better opportunity for long-term career advancement. At RPM Lori became familiar with the service side of the business, and she became a successful service advisor.
In May of 2002 Lori and Sam’s lives took an unexpected twist. Six-year-old Sam was diagnosed with Atrial Septic Defect (a hole in his heart) and would require open-heart surgery in June of 2002. Lori was forced to take a leave of absence from her job. Sam came through the surgery without complications and is now able to enjoy a normal, active lifestyle.
It was in the summer of 2002 that Najjar Car Care expanded its operation on Watson Road and needed an additional service advisor. Mike Najjar had heard about Lori’s abilities and contacted her. After a couple of weeks of serious consideration Lori decided to join the team at Najjar Car Care.
Since joining Najjar Car Care Lori has become an ASE Certified Service Consultant, graduated from the Dale Carnegie Human Relations Course, and has served on the ASE panel that helps develop the test questions for the nationwide ASE tests.
Lori and Sam are both huge Cardinal fans. When Sam is not playing baseball, Lori and Sam like to watch Cardinal games. In July of 2008, Sam’s baseball team traveled for a tournament to Cooperstown, New York. Lori was able to visit the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame while there.
Lori loves people even more than baseball. Her customers are impressed not only by her knowledge of vehicles but also by her helpful, caring attitude.
Owner-Manager, 7027 Hampton AvenueWhen Bob Rogers retired in 1993 and sold his Amoco station and carwash to Mike Najjar, Shawn Mead had already worked there for several years. The new company saw Shawn’s leadership potential and promoted him to manager. Shawn Mead has stood side-by-side with Mike Najjar through busy times and slow, through battles with Amoco, through closing the carwash and moving to the new shop on Hampton, and even through a completely unfounded lawsuit attempt by a former employee (It was thrown out before ever getting close to going to trial).
Those of you who know Shawn are familiar with how much he loves his job. When asked what he likes best about working for Master Auto Repair the answer doesn’t take any time to think. “I love to spend time with my customers. I really enjoy it when we have time to just sit down and talk.”
When you ask someone what they like the best about their job, the natural follow-up question is what they like the least. Shawn answered this way: “Any kind of unhappy customer upsets me. And the worst is those cases when they are unhappy because of something we did to upset them.”
(Editor’s Note: Fortunately, the large number of positive letters received over the years compared to the very small amount of complaints received tells us that there aren’t many times when Shawn has to get upset.)
But his favorite activity of all, even more than his job, is babysitting his grandchildren.
Owner-Manager, 1939 Union RoadI can remember it like it was yesterday. In the fall of 1992 Reavis Amoco only had one mechanic, and he was good at exhaust and brakes, but knew nothing about the computer systems on the newer vehicles. We needed someone knowledgeable about the onboard computers and the new fuel injection systems and pollution controls.
Scott Ramsey answered a newspaper ad and we decided to hire him. Scott had a college degree in automotive technology and several years of experience at both service stations and new car dealerships. I had a very good feeling about Scott from the start. He showed up the first day in a big four-wheel drive truck with huge off-road tires, and a gigantic toolbox in the back. I thought to myself, “This guy is a real mechanic!” That day was October 5, 1992.
Scott has always done everything an employer could ever ask. Back when we still sold gasoline, he helped out on the pumps when we were busy. When we had nobody to run the front office, Scott assumed the role of service advisor.
Many of our customers know Scott as the “Ace,” the guy who can fix any kind of problem. Automobile technicians don’t often get recognition for their skills and abilities, but they should. Scott has passed all the ASE tests and earned the rank of Master Automobile Technician, with the L1 (advanced diagnostic) certification. He is a State of Missouri Recognized Emission Repair Technician. In November of 2001 Scott was on the winning team at the Missouri State Diagnostic Challenge.
Scott and his wife Sandy have been very happily married since 1986. They have two children, Sabrina and Brendan. Sabrina learned how to change the oil on her car before she even got a driver’s license.
Scott says: “I have always loved cars and fixing things. But when I worked at the dealer it was only about money. I was just a number to them. I came to work for Mike and Leslie because they care about doing the jobs right for their customers. Our shop has the best equipment around. Mike spends money to make the shop better every year. My friends that work for other places can’t believe how much training our company sends us to each year. Every year new cars get more complicated. I want to continue to learn new technologies, and Mike is committed to invest in the equipment and training that I need to maintain my Master Technician status. I’m looking forward to what the future will bring.”
Owner-Manager, 206 Vandalia St., CollinsvilleEd Starns has been the general manager of our Collinsville location since we purchased it in June of 2005. Ed came to us from the Collinsville BP-Amoco, which had to close because of the new shopping center development. Prior to that Ed spent fifteen years with Midas. He started as a mechanic and later became manager and area supervisor.
But Ed’s automotive career actually started in St. Louis. His first job was at Meyer Texaco on South Broadway. Ed started like many of us “old-timers”, by pumping gas and fixing tires.
He left his family, his job at Texaco and his high school sweetheart behind when he enlisted in the Army. He was only 16 years old at the time, and his parents had to give him special permission to enlist. He actually obtained his high school diploma while in the Army. Ed became a Combat Engineer in the service, and learned a lot about machinery and heavy equipment.
After six years in the service, Ed came back to St. Louis and began his automotive career. In 1998 Ed and Karen, his high school sweetheart were reunited and became husband and wife. How they became engaged is quite a story. Karen wanted Ed to get away from cars for a few days, so they planned a vacation on Mackinaw Island in Michigan. While Karen planned the trip, Ed was making plans of his own to propose to her.
They stopped on the way, and Ed couldn’t wait to get to the island. He proposed to her on the beach at Lake Michigan. Between them they have three sons and one grandson.
Ed’s employees love working for him. His concern for his customers is contagious, and all the guys really want to please the customers. John Jackson says, “Ed is such a class guy. He has been so helpful to me, teaching me, and encouraging me to advance myself.”
And two of Ed’s former co-workers at his old job decided to follow Ed and work at Najjar Car Care in Collinsville.
Ed loves people and he loves cars, which has helped make him both a successful mechanic and service manager. He also loves sports. For many years Ed played competitive softball on a traveling team. Now he limits himself to following sports and not playing. He is an avid baseball and hockey fan, and has season tickets to both the Blues and the Cardinals.
General Manager-6501 Fyler AveMaster Sergeant Ted Jackson and his pregnant wife Nancy were watching a John Wayne movie when Nancy went into labor. They hurried to the hospital at Scott Air Force base, where their son, John Wayne Jackson, was born. Being in a military family, John spent parts of his childhood in California and Illinois. He attended Collinsville High School, where he played football.
John’s automotive career began in the year 2000 when he was hired as a technician at Wells Harrison Tire in his hometown of Collinsville, Illinois. When Mike Najjar purchased Wells Harrison Tire in 2005 John continued working as a technician. From 2007 - 2009 Master Auto Repair supported John in furthering his education in the automotive field, In 2009 John completed his automotive technician degree from Rankin Technical College and later completed the Dale Carnegie course in Sales. John has attended many automotive seminars to earn certifications in brakes, suspension, and tires.
While working at the Collinsville location John learned both by book and by example. John learned many valuable lessons about the automotive field from Kevin Stroud. Kevin has worked at the Collinsville location for more than 30 years and worked side by side with John for 14 years. John says: “Kevin taught me about cars and people. Kevin has extensive knowledge and is a big part of the Collinsville community. I enjoyed working with him over the years and am appreciative of what he has taught me about being a manager in a small community.”
John also worked with Ed Starns, the general manager of the Collinsville location for 9 years. Ed’s expertise and experience has also influenced John in his career. John says “Ed Starns has been very supportive and helpful in my advancement throughout my career with Master Auto Repair”
John met his wife Amanda while working at the Master Auto Repair in Collinsville. She worked at a store next door to the shop, walking across the Master Auto parking lot every day. She forced John to ask her on their first date. John and Amanda married in 2013 and continue to reside in Collinsville. John, Amanda and his daughter Keeley, look forward to growing their family.
John is now Master Auto Repair’s newest General Manager at our new shop located at 6501 Fyler Avenue in St. Louis. John looks forward to working with the new staff and is very excited about the opportunity to service new customers in the south St. Louis area.
Service Advisor-206 VandaliaNovember 2007 was a big month to celebrate in the Stroud household. Kevin and Karen celebrated their 24th wedding anniversary on the 5th. And November 7th, 2007 marked Kevin’s 30th year at Wells-Harrison Tire and Najjar Car Care.
Kevin and Karen were both born and raised in Collinsville. They met and started dating in high school. After about eight years of dating, they tied the knot. Kevin and Karen have three daughters. The family has done a lot of traveling over the years, planning vacations around soccer tournaments. Sara has been to Disney World and played in a tournament there. The family went to Colorado Springs and toured the Air Force Academy. That trip was also tied in to a soccer tournament.
When not watching soccer, Kevin and the family like to bar-b-que, play washers, and sometimes camp or go floating.
Kevin’s first job was a result of him being the only boy to sign up for Office Practice class his freshman year of high school. The teacher needed part-time help on her farm, and Kevin was the only student in the class big enough to qualify to do the work.
When he turned sixteen and got his license, Kevin went to work at Cullop-Jennings Florist. His new job was delivering flowers. But Kevin only stayed there about a year.
The Stroud’s next-door neighbor was a mechanic at Wells-Harrison Tire. He told Kevin about a part-time job opening and Kevin applied for the job. Marvin Conway, long-time sales manager (now retired), hired Kevin on the spot. Kevin has worked here ever since.
Marv was a great teacher. Kevin learned almost everything there is to know about tires from Marv. In addition, Kevin has completed a weeklong brake school at Hennessy Industries, earning “Ammco Approved Brake Service Tech” status. Kevin also completed a course at Moog Automotive for steering and suspension service. He recently enrolled in the Professional Service Advisor Development Program, and has already attended four classroom sessions geared toward improving his product knowledge and customer service skills.
What does Kevin like the best about his career?
“Getting to meet a lot of different people every day. Most of them are really nice. And having the chance to work with two great managers. First, Marv, now Ed (Starns).”
Why do they call him “Pig Pen”?
Pig Pen was the character in the Charlie Brown cartoons that was always filthy. When Kevin played softball his teammates noticed that he would get all dirty and sweaty during the warm-ups, before the game had even started. So they started calling him Pig Pen. Kevin hasn’t played ball in a few years, but the nickname has stuck with him.