George Rakan Farah
Technician and New Owner
GNR Automotive, Greenville, South Carolina

How did you get your start in the automotive industry?
George Farah’s father was an auto technician in Michigan. “I started off working for my dad on Saturday’s cleaning up the shop. One day Dad asked me if I wanted to learn how to do an oil change. Things started from there.” George did not take shop in high school because he was learning the basics by working at the shop his dad worked at.

Did you attend Trade School?
George graduated from ‘Ohio Technical college,’ which is an automotive technical college in Cleveland, Ohio. OTC offers programs in automotive, auto-diesel, collision, diesel, manufacturer, motor sports, Powersport, restoration and welding. “I learned a lot on the theory of engine performance, and I did a lot of diagnostics.” He graduated at the top of his class and quickly earned a Master accreditation by ASE. He is currently working towards earning the L1 and L2 ASE certifications.

Best piece of advice a mentor or instructor ever gave you?
“My dad for sure was a mentor as far as teaching me the basics.”
George recommends that when mentors are scarce or free advice isn’t coming your way you can be your own mentor by asking lots of questions and by observing. “I used to work for a tire chain. Because I had watched my boss start up tickets for customers, I was able to write up a customer and start up the ticket while my boss was tied up.”

Do you still have any ASE Certifications?
“I've got an ASE master certification and the ASE in conjunction with BMW. I'm not L1 or L2 yet, but those are the next two on my list.”

How many repair centers have you worked at?
George worked for six different repair facilities before deciding to open up his own shop in April 2021: Tire chains, Dealerships, and multiple independent shops.

Why did you decide to become an Independent Shop owner?
“I left the dealership because of the unfair wages and things like that.” Then he went to work for two more independent shops that he found nightmarish. “I said to myself, either I go back to college and learn something new or open up my own shop.”

Working for a variety of businesses George experienced both outstanding and poor management styles. He was able to take away the good the leave behind the bad. When he opened up his own shop, he picked the Mitchell shop management system. “I learned how to use Mitchell by watching the service writers operate it and by paying attention and asking questions related to it gave me a sense about profit margins and upselling.”

Tell us a little about your shop.
George opened his three-bay independent repair facility GNR Automotive on April 1, 2021 at the age of 21. “The business was funded by maxing out all of my credit cards. I started from scratch, empty building, no customer base. Sometimes you just get lucky. Starting my own business was easy and difficult at the same time, I was always a leader. Everything else you learn comes in due time. If I could do it over again, I wouldn’t change a thing!”

George does all the diagnostics, wrenches, and runs the front. His Dad works alongside him as a heavy line technician.

Do you feel ASE Certifications are important for your technicians to have and maintain?
“People will ask me, ‘are you ASE certified?’ and I will tell them yes. And I will get a new customer just for that.”

What do you enjoy most about being an auto repair shop owner?
“Knowing that my paycheck will be my paycheck. And knowing that it will be coming to my family. But being the technician is still my favorite part. I love working on cars and fixing stuff.”

What advice do you have for someone thinking of going to school or wants to start working in the automotive repair industry?
George recommends that you stay motivated and committed. “It’s all in your mindset. Put it into your head to do something and just do it, and don’t stop in the middle. It is important to think about how you can contribute to your employer. Get yourself out there and introduce yourself to people in the trade. Acquire bits and pieces of knowledge from everyone.”

George also recommends conducting yourself professionally and that you get a balanced education of both hands-on-training and theory.

What are your words of wisdom for a new auto technician who gets discouraged?
George recommends creating a support system in the shop and learning how to assert yourself. “Just because I was young and I am good at what I do, people thought that they could step on my toes, which I didn’t appreciate.”

Do you feel that continuing education is important for technicians?
Regarding the pace of technology hitting the market “If you don’t keep yourself up to date on everything, there’s no way for you to be successful without struggling.”

How do you see your job or this industry changing in the next 10 years?
Even though most technicians are comfortable with working on internal combustion engines George knows that electric powered vehicles are here to stay so technicians need to adapt. “There will be a demand for technicians who can diagnose and fix these vehicles and it will take new resources and training to keep up with the changing technology.”