Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Next Step

My job for the past six years, serving customers at Pro-Tech in Buckner, KY
This entry is being published on October 31, 2012, Halloween, and many of you may not read it until a day or two after it hits. I'm writing this one for both my friends, followers of my blog and my customers of the last six years at Pro-Tech.
For over six years now I have been the Service Manager, Office Manager, whatever you want to call it at Pro-Tech Auto Repair in Buckner, KY. John and Marty the business owners, gave me this opportunity on referral from a former co-worker of mine. Coming into Pro-Tech I was leaving a job where I had been less than satisfied with my former employer's tactics, honesty and integrity. I was also paid on commission and having to use high pressure sales tactics to earn a living was not something I was typically comfortable with. Often it involved coercive and exploitative sales tactics that my former boss insisted on, they were designed to take advantage of a customer's lack of knowledge about their car and maximize the dollar totals on each ticket. This type of selling did not fit my personality or my moral values.
Pro-Tech offered something different. I was paid on salary, I was expected to perform and do my job, but instead of hard, high pressure, and deceptive sales tactics they simply took the recommendation approach to repairs and maintenance. The atmosphere in the shop, while geared toward working hard and maximizing our usage of time is almost always a lighter mood than most places I have worked. Employees are treated more like family and friends, especially when they are sick or need to care for family.
John and Marty as well are smart businessmen. In spite of the economic downturn the shop remains in a very stable and positive position. Blessed with better planning and sense than most, this is a shop that will last when many others will fail.
Their commitment to their customers and to doing the right thing will always keep business coming through the doors. I can not say enough good things about Pro-Tech. I've been treated well, and while all jobs have their burnout factor, and not all days are sunshine and doughnuts, overall this has been the best job I ever had to wake up and go to Monday-Friday.
I've said in the past, this would be the last shop I'd ever work for unless I started my own. I grew up in and around the car business. I now have just shy of nine years experience first hand working in service advising and management on the repair side. I know a good shop operation when I see one. I would put  Pro-Tech above anyone out there in terms of honesty, integrity, skill, expertise, customer service and commitment. They are number one, without a doubt. If I'm not working there, this is who will be fixing my cars when I can't do it myself.
With all that in mind, you've probably guessed by now that I'm saying goodbye to this job. Why would I do such a thing now, at this time in my life? It is not to leave and go to another shop, even though the turnover rate in the repair business, especially for service advisors and front counter is often very high. It's also not to start my own shop or purchase one. There's a much deeper explanation that all of you should read on to find.
I've been presented with an opportunity, a carrot dangled in front of me that I simply can not resist. An offer that tantalizes the teenage kid inside of me. This offer is too good for me to pass up. It bares more explanation as to why I find it so intriguing.
Rod Authority is one of many of the E-mags I've been writing for
Many of you who are my friends on FaceBook no doubt have seen me post numerous car related articles and teasers from photoshoots. Most of the articles I have posted have been written by me. I love cars, that's no secret, but I also love to write, as this blog should be evidence of.
Last winter I wrote a blog entry titled "Almost Famous", you can find it among my archives. I laid out some of my past in automotive writing. I've loved to write since I was ten years old, and I've loved cars since I was a little kid. As a pre-teen I'd discovered car magazines, and the world they opened up of new, and modified cars, trucks and hot rods. I spent countless hours with magazines sprawled out on the living room floor, my bed or the kitchen table pouring them over the way some kids read fantasy novels. My world revolved around when the next issue hit the door. At the same time cable networks like TNN (now Spike) were just starting to run the do it yourself shows that compose a large part of their weekend lineup today. I even read the car review in the local paper each week and looked through the autos section to see what news there was of the business. I was obsessed.
As a teenager in my high school English Lit class I had to do an assignment. I can't remember now which year I was in, but I want to say it was either Sophmore or Senior. Either Mrs. Dye or Mrs. Lucas was my teacher depending on the year. The assignment was a presentation on things about you and your life. You had to make it all fit in a paperbag and part of it could be what you aspired to do after high school, whether college or career, etc. I couldn't make a car magazine fit in the bag, but I photocopied the cover to an issue of Car and Driver, folded it twice and set it inside. As part of my presentation I revealed that I wanted to write about cars for a career.
Car's like Mike Webb's Mustang GT are just some of what I've been writing about.
I've come close to that goal in the past, as I talked about in my "Almost Famous" entry. I had until this past year resigned myself to believing that those days were long gone, simply a young mans pursuit and that I would probably never again be back in the magazine business. Certainly never full time as I had dreamed of doing in my childhood.
Not long after I posted "Almost Famous" to my blog, I saw a FaceBook post from the man I used to write for, James Lawrence. James is now president and owner of PowerTVMedia. A California based company specializing in automotive performance industry E-magazines as well as advertising and web development. I jokingly commented in the FaceBook thread about the job openings that it was too bad you had to live in California to do them. James offered me a job if I'd move to California within hours of that comment, a move that at this time in my life I can not make. He then followed that up with an offer for me work freelance on the side, as much as I thought I could handle.
I'll be covering events like the Street Rod Nationals which is close to home.
So almost as quickly as I had given up on a dream that I thought was lost forever, I was off again, freelance writing about cars. I'm not traveling like I used to but writing all the same. Technical articles, car features, and news stories. I scrubbed out the rust and cobwebs from my writing skills, cleaned up my camera and have been back at it on the side ever since.
Some months I've cranked out a huge body of work, amounting almost in some cases to a full time income. Others I've not been able to produce as much due to time and family constraints.
Towards the end of September my managing editors came to me with a job offer, asking what would it take to get me to leave Pro-Tech and work for them full time from home. We went back and forth, there were a lot of questions of how much work, what my status would be with the company, etc. In the end this is an offer that I can not pass up. PowerTVMedia is growing and thriving. In my opinion they really do have lightning in a bottle with respect to the direction of automotive publishing. All publishing is moving in the direction of electronic, and I've said for years that by the time I'm in my forties print publications like magazines and newspapers if not fully extinct will be so few in number that they'll be the exception and not the rule.
With this offer to write full time, I get the opportunity again to make that childhood dream a reality. I'll be compensated apporpirately. I'l have some flexibility, do a small amount of traveling and get to meet more new and interesting people along the way.
Perhaps most importantly I get to work from home or on the go, wherever I can setup my laptop and get a wifi connection.
In my PowerTV shirt at my home office.
November first is The Next Step, the day I start writing for a living. The day I get to start doing what I've always dreamed of. I'll be sad walking out of Pro-Tech and locking up the shop for my final time on October 31, an appropriate scare for Halloween, as change is always scary. Still not many people can say they had the opportunity to work at what they always dreamed of. If I can follow that dream even for a short while, even if for some reason it doesn't work out, I can always say that I took a shot at it, gave it my best. That in the end is more than what most of us can say about entire careers and sometimes sadly our lives.
I wish all of you who have made my years at Pro-Tech so good, the very best, I'll see you around the community, at festivals, 5k's, and the store. You can follow me here on my blog, you can also friend me on FaceBook, Google+ and follow me on Twitter @DonaldCreasonJr. You might even see me on the other side of the counter at Pro-Tech getting my own car worked on. 


  1. I'm excited for you, I'm proud of you and (most of all) I'm sick with envy!

  2. a.) Facebook, not FaceBook
    b.) I'll move to CA if you will, but it has to be San Diego.
    c.) "Sunshine and donuts," nice!