By Dan Colton
for The Beacon
Local auto shops are staying open for business and adapting to new normals of society during the coronavirus pandemic.
Some repair garages are offering vehicle pickup and drop-off services to cut down on foot traffic through their doors. Mechanic shops remain open and report increased efforts to keep common areas clean and sanitized even as business has slowed.
“(Business has) dropped significantly,” said Mark Havens, service manager for Sheboygan Auto Helpers. “I’m probably doing about 40 to 45 percent of what I normally do in the past few weeks.”
He said most people are taking additional safety precautions, and workers are making sure to keep surfaces clean and wiped down.
“Every car that comes in we’re taking safety measures to … clean on the keys, the steering wheel, the shifter, levers, door handles on the drivers side,” Havens said. “It’s both for our purpose and (the customer’s) purpose, just taking the extra measure to do that.”
Like other industries, the auto repair business has needed to adapt to changing times.
“We’ve had to change our business model,” said Todd Geldreich, service manager at Kennedy Ford in Sheboygan Falls. He said it’s more important than ever to ensure his workers are working in clean conditions.
“I need to protect my guys, and in turn, we usually return the vehicle back usually cleaner than they left it,” Geldreich.
Shops have reported seeing less customers than normal. Some shipments of parts have also been delayed longer than usual.
“With the light load that we’ve had, we’ve seldom had more than two people inside,” said Kim Stokdyk, service underwriter at Martin Automotive in Sheboygan. “Quite often, people will drive up and drop off their car for us and then we’ll call them when it’s done. Many of our suppliers … area taking extra precautions in that they give us a call or attract our attention so they don’t come into the building so we have less chance of spreading (the coronavirus).”
At Perfect Circle Tire in Waldo, Scott Rady said he services semi trucks, farm tractors and personal vehicles. All those sectors have taken a hit since coronavirus hijacked normal life and financial uncertainty is rampant.
“People aren’t going out,” Rady said. “They don’t have money.”
Naomi Schlieder, manager at Meyer Import Service in Sheboygan Falls, said customers expect a different of service these days. It’s all about adapting to the current climate, she said.
“We do whatever we can to make people feel more comfortable … and safe,” Schlieder said.