Surf the net while car gets fixed faster

January 4, 2009
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In the midst of an economic breakdown, a local company that repairs automobile breakdowns is expanding.

Arie Nol Auto Center Inc., located at 5189 Eastern Ave. SE in Kentwood, recently added 1,100 square feet to its space.

“Expanding our business was a direct reflection of our customers’ needs. We added two working bays, bringing the total to seven, so we can more easily repair breakdowns in addition to appointment work,” said Jeff Nol, owner and son of Arie Nol, the founder.

His wife and co-owner, Debbie, added, “It’s a function of customers saying it was harder and harder to get in. When your car breaks down, you really can’t wait a week to get it in.”

Arie Nol Auto Center also hired another mechanic and added a bigger office and new reception area — which includes new chairs, work tables, TV and wireless Internet.

The company found that instead of being dropped off and picked up, “with a two-hour repair, they would rather just work (at the center),” Debbie said. “Customers asked for this type of space with Internet access to wait and work while their car is repaired.”

Four years ago the company expanded by adding two additional bays in a separate building next door. The city of Kentwood at the time was against connecting the buildings because officials didn’t want to have one big building, Debbie said.

During the latest expansion, led by Parker Contracting and Construction, the 33-year-old company connected the two buildings and also extended the front of one of the buildings.

Listening to customers — such as the expanded reception area — was central in the expansion, Debbie said. It’s also at the heart of the company founded by Jeff’s dad.

“My dad enjoyed talking to people and he loved cars, so combining those two things created the perfect business for him,” said Jeff. “Working with him since my early teens, I saw how he interacted with his customers and realized that I wanted to do what he did every day.

“We take our good reputation seriously. When someone comes into our repair facility, we want them as a long-term customer, not a one-time visitor. We are focused on having the proper equipment, well-trained employees and a facility that is comfortable and serves the needs of our customers.”

Arie Nol Auto Center celebrated the expansion with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Dec. 18.

“Lots of customers showed up —  lots of people from the community,” Debbie said.

She noted that many members of the Wyoming-Kentwood Area Chamber of Commerce attended.

“With all of the bad news about the economy, we are really excited to be part of the good news in West Michigan,” Jeff said. “Our customers gave us the ability to expand — and by doing so, created growth in Kentwood. That is a winning combination.”

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