“Like anything else you can buy the best, or go cheap. I thought, ‘I’m going to do this well'”, Jack Alexander, owner of Fairfield Garage in Stockton-on-Tees tells GW Views.
Having recently invested heavily in decor, new equipment and skilled technicians, Fairfield Garage has the appearance of a national franchise and the ethos of a trusted local independent.
Jack took the plunge to open up his own workshop at the age of 21, having completed his levels one, two and three training and gained some experience at an independent garage working as a service advisor.
“It scared the living daylights out of me but I was always going to do it,” he said.
Today Jack’s business employs seven people to serve MOTs, tyres, servicing and repairs.
Jack told GW: “Since the refurb, we’ve been open seven months now.
“100 per cent dedication”
“It’s been hard work with lots of long hours and has taken 100 per cent dedication to build up a good customer database.
“It’s a lot different to any other garage in the area and, looks wise, it certainly stands out.
“There’s a lot of expense that’s gone into it to get it looking like this and make the customers feel welcome
“Basically, it’s like a main dealer but with lower prices.”
The garage has doubled in size since reopening and has been kitted out with advanced tools and equipment.
Jack added: “It’s something that I took a risk with and so far its paying off.
“Cars and vans are increasingly complex.
“Mechanics used to need great engineering skills – now, you need great IT skills, too.
“Like anything else you can buy the best, or go cheap.
“I thought, ‘I’m going to do this well’.
“I swallowed hard and bought the best kit on the market”
“So, I swallowed hard and bought the best kit on the market.
“It’s already clear that was the right decision.
“There was a nerve-wracking pause when everything was in and we said, ‘OK like, we’re open then.’
“I had one sleepless night, just one.
“A week later bookings were solid.
“It was like ‘Oh, OK, that worked, then’”.
When asked what plans he has for the future, Jack told GW that he’s keen to firmly establish Fairfield Garage but has more ambitious plans to open another branch in a few years.
Getting to know Jack
What’s the best car you’ve worked on?
Probably a Bentley GT, which we had in for its first MOT and we gave it a service too. It passed the MOT!
And the worst car?
There’s a few out there but the one that springs to mind immediately is a Ford Fiesta which we had in recently, it was in a really sorry state.
What’s the most useful garage tool you have used?
That would be a windy gun, it speeds the job up when you don’t have to do it by hand.
What’s the most useless garage tool you have ever used?
Everything is new here and so far everything is working fine and as it should. Luckily, I don’t think I’ve come across one yet.
What’s your ideal day off?
A day in the pub!
What profession would you be in if you weren’t a vehicle technician?
I wanted to be a professional golfer but that didn’t work out. The motor industry has always been in the family so it was something that I was always going to have to try out. It seems to be working out.
What was the most embarrassing moment of your career?
It’s still early days!
What is the highlight of your career so far?
Opening this place up and it being successful within the first six months, which wasn’t expected.
What is the biggest challenge the industry faces at the moment?
For me, it’s getting the right staff in. You need someone who is 100 per cent committed to the job. You get apprentices going into college, sometimes because they’ve got nothing better to do and they aren’t dedicated to their work. It’s not easy to find someone who will work hard alongside you and want to work hard alongside you.
We’ve currently got two apprentices and they’re both getting on really well. They’ll be on a level three soon and hopefully they’ll stay on and want to work for the company.