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Life Off-the-Grid

Ray Kroc, Meet Steve Marshall

By Cam Mather

When you drive older vehicles it’s really important to have a good mechanic on your side. I used to hear the term “late model” vehicles and I never really understood it. It means a car that was made recently. So my 1993 Ranger is not late model. It’s also not on the road anymore, retired this year for my new “late model” 2000 Ranger. Well it’s a late model to me.

I paid $4,000 for it uncertified and another $1,500 to my mechanic Steve Marshall to make it road worthy. Steve is totally awesome. He told me that it was a great truck when I brought it in, and then told me that while it was in his shop being certified another customer had admired it and wanted to buy it. My chest filled with pride. I think Steve’s taken one of those fancy sales training courses on how to treat customers. In fact Steve is a marketing genius. Oh, he can fix trucks, but he could show Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonalds, a thing or two.

Steve Marshall

Steve invested in one of the first hydraulic lifts around here, which means that he can have our regular tires and rims off and our snow tires on in about 4 ½ minutes. He is also exceptionally honest and fair in his pricing. Honda recommends that you replace the timing belt periodically, and when it came time for us to replace the one on our 2005 Civic they sent us a coupon offering a discount on the job. It was still going to cost over $600. I spent $40 on the Honda timing belt and had Steve put it on for $300. Steve is our “go to” guy on this stuff.

Steve’s exceptional service doesn’t stop once your car (or truck) is fixed. He knows how to show you how much he appreciates your business. First off, he has a full set of air fresheners that you can choose from, all included in the price! Now, your late model car may still be ripe with that new car volatile organic compound smell, but my truck isn’t, and after I’ve climbed in and out a few times while spreading horse manure, my truck can start smelling pretty “ripe.” But after a visit to Steve it smells like a pine forest… or a vanilla votive candle or whatever scent I’ve chosen. Steve also has lots of promotional pens, which you get to keep after using it to sign the credit card slip. With the promise of a new free pen it makes spending that money just a little bit easier.

Arlene Oversees the Promotional Gifts

Arlene Oversees the Promotional Gifts

 

Now he’s giving away these great little note pads with a pen built right in. How awesome is that? They fit right in your pocket and when you need to jot down a part number you need for your hay bailer, or an inspirational thought that just came to you, you’ve got a note pad right there. Heck, I don’t even look at the bill anymore, I’m just so focused on all of the great “customer appreciation” stuff he gives out!

A few years ago Steve held a “Customer Appreciation Contest” and offered a bunch of great prizes. I won one of those battery packs with an inverter built into it! It was worth about $75! Since I live off-grid I had several already, so I donated it to a fundraiser at the Tamworth Legion.

Lately Steve has been helping me cope with a difficult emotional period I’ve been going through. As mentioned in a previous blog, I am going through a “burned out on technology” period. The windshield wipers on the truck stopped working and it wasn’t something easy to fix like the motor. It turns out that it was the electronic switch that Ford puts in that controls a whole whack of stuff. If this fancy switch goes wrong you have to basically buy it from the dealer because they have the programming codes and by the time they’re done you’re probably looking at $500 or more. So I convinced Steve to just bypass the fancy schmancy computer crap and make the wipers work. So now I have wipers that work. And all they do is go back and forth. They don’t go really fast, and they don’t work intermittently anymore – I just have a switch that turns them on and off.

A Modern Hybrid Automobile Instrument Panel

A complicated Cadillac dashboard

I actually learned something during my “wiperless” days before Steve fixed them for me. It turns out that you don’t really need wipers. I can say this because every time I drove to my neighbors’ to pick up the wagon of manure it was raining. Oh sure, wipers are helpful, but you can drive without them. This is good to know, as it helps you to worry less about them ever breaking. So after not having wipers for a while I’m thrilled to have them back again, even if all they do is go back and forth at one speed. And the greatest part is that they stop when you hit the switch, no matter what position they are in on your window. So now it’s like playing a video game in which I have to time hitting the switch when the wipers are in the proper position. Otherwise I have to play another round of “Wacky Wiper World” and try and time it right.

The New Uncomplicated Wiper Switch

Oh those fancy dealerships have their cappuccinos and high speed wireless and gourmet magazines and valet delivery service. But I’ll take a guy who gives me a pen that really writes when I need it and can make my wipers work without computer chips any day.

PS I’m not sure if Steve is even taking new patients; so don’t even try to get an appointment.

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1 Comment

  1. Larry

    I know how you feel. I was having this intermittent electrical problem in my van. Step on the brakes, the radio would go off. Turn on the headlight, the brake lights didn’t work. Turn on the radio, the wipers wouldn’t work. They changed this little box that was located under the drivers seat. I kept the old little box…just left it between the seats on the floor. What someone asks “what’s the little box”?, I say $ 400. 😦

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