Did you take shop in high school or trade school after high school?
Jay did not take shop in high school or attend a trade school. Jay learned to work on cars by assisting someone in his church who owned an independent repair shop. Later he got a job working as a service manager for a national chain, moved onto car sales, and then worked as a service advisor at a dealership. “I started advertising on Craigslist offering to do brake repairs out of my home garage. And that’s how I got my start.” He goes on to point out the paradox. “I started in my garage and the funny thing was that I was never a tech - I was always in a sales or service role but I had a scissor lift in my garage I bought to do oil changes on my personal car. And I continued to learn as I went along. After several months of mobile work, Jay decided to “expand” into a physical location and Carmedix was born.
Carmedix owned by Jay Huh employs five ASE certified techs in his ten-bay facility. They work on all makes, all models and strive to provide the best customer experience ever. Launched in 2015, Carmedix quickly scaled up - reaching a record 421 cars last month (June 2021) and numbers continue to climb.
What made you decide to be a shop owner?
“I wanted to create a business that was different, one that cared about customers - but I didn’t necessarily have becoming a shop owner in mind as I was still working from my home garage at that point. But because I truly cared about every single customer and vehicle that I touched, I ended up having to move to bigger facilities to accommodate the demand.”
What advice do you have for someone who wants to start working in the automotive repair industry?
“Work hard, invest in knowledge and it will pay off. Take advantage of your company resources because you’ll be better off down the road.”
Jay encourages people of diverse backgrounds to consider starting a career in the automotive trades. “There’s not a lot of Asians in the trade and that’s understandable. To most Asians, success means becoming a doctor or a lawyer. The auto industry is not just a blue-collar job where you get your hands dirty. It has become a place where you have to be just as smart and sharp with diagnostic ability as you are good with your hands.
Do you feel that continuing education is important for technicians?
“Definitely. I continuously send my techs to classes to continue their education.” They attend training by Advance Auto, Worldpac, and ASTE. Technology is changing at a rapid pace- we are already seeing the impacts of electric vehicles. I truly believe the electric revolution will come sooner than we realize. I compare it to when iPhones first hit the market - some quickly became obsolete. Obviously, it will take a bit more time and the infrastructure needs to catch up but if we are not preparing now, we will be too late.
Do you have any ASE Certifications, and do you feel they are important to have and maintain?
Jay earned the standard, baseline ASE certifications. Even back when he was starting out working as a mobile tech, “I tried to look at everything from a customer’s perspective. It was really important for the customers to view me as a professional technician and the ASE patch is recognizable. That was my first goal to earn the ASE certification to establish that credibility. To highlight my credentials, I wore a professional shirt with the ASE patch and was always well-groomed.
How did you learn to run a repair shop?
“I made a lot of mistakes when I first started out. Had no idea what I was doing. I was going with the flow, growing fast and working off cash flow. I wasn’t even profitable (but I thought I was), so I opened two more locations.
In Sept 2017 - I attended my first ever automotive conference. It was there I met Aaron Stokes a shop owner / business coach - I signed up for Shop Fix Academy where I learned to actually run a business correctly.
What do you enjoy most about being a Shop Owner?
Jay enjoys leading and motivating his crew. “It’s about improving the quality of life for my employees and giving them a place to excel,” says Jay. He goes on to say, “It feels so weird because I started from a home garage and went mobile. And now I have nine employees, providing benefits, paid vacation and training. Everyone is super happy, which is a real blessing for me.”
Jay tells the story, “I recently looked back at a picture from 2017 of one my employees that has been with me the longest. He was just an 18 yr kid! That 18-year-old kid is still with me, but he is not a kid anymore. He is now married and has two kids and makes a decent wage to support his family.
Jay also enjoys educating students, “the most rewarding thing I’ve done as an owner was teaching elementary schoolers how cars work and tie it into physics. They were learning about friction, heat and energy and were so wowed and amazed. It was definitely fulfilling, and I hope I planted a seed for the next generation. “
'Words of Wisdom' for new Shop Owners or someone thinking of opening a shop?
“If you can think it, you can achieve it. You are only limited by what you can imagine. Don't be afraid of putting in the work, don't hesitate to reach out to other owners that have already done what you are aiming for. Don't reinvent the wheel, success can be duplicated.”
What makes your shop special?
“We offer a nationwide warranty, roadside assistance, free shuttles, loaners... but that is not what makes us different. What truly makes us different is our people. You won't find a more dedicated group that cares not only about what they do but helping those that come in to make sure they are leaving in a safe vehicle.”
Does your company pay for employee training and ASE Certifications?
Yes! Jay pays for training and ASE certifications. To date he has nine people working for him, consisting of four technicians, two general service mechanics, two service advisors, and an office manager.
How do you see this industry changing in the next 10 years?
Jay is already seeing and experiencing the shift to EVs and Hybrids. He is working hard to keep on top of the new technology so he can meet that need of the hybrid and electric cars. “We have to stay on top of these trends. We have to keep learning and studying these changes before it happens.”