Story Category: Economy & Business »
Local Business Wins Prestigious National Award
Waldorf and Lexington Park, MD - 8/3/2012
By Dick Myers
Carl Merewitz must be doing something right. Merewitz has been in business for a quarter of a century and he is still pulling down awards. The owner of the AAMCO businesses in Waldorf and Lexington Park was just chosen, for the second time, to the company’s prestigious President’s Club.
Merewitz graduated from the University of Maryland in 1986. He took a job as a loan officer for a mortgage company and was sent to Southern Maryland to set up an office in Waldorf. He got married during that time and moved to Southern Maryland.
He needed a transmission rebuilt and looked around for an AAMCO only to find there wasn’t any locally. An entrepreneurial light bulb went off in his head and he sent away for franchise information. Raising money through his family, he put together enough to purchase a franchise and open in Waldorf just a year out of college. The rest, as they say, is history.
That AAMCO in Waldorf is located behind Waldorf Ford on MD 925.In 1996 he expanded to a second location behind PNC Bank just off MD 235 on Millstone Landing Road in Lexington Park. “It was a worthwhile venture from the start,” Merewitz said of the Waldorf location.
In an interview in his office at the Lexington Park AAMCO, Merewitz was asked if his job included being a grease monkey. He said cars are a hobby of his and he dabbled in taking apart and putting back together cars when he was a teenager, but he says he now lets that up to his expert staff of auto technicians. “I have enough to do,” he said about owning and managing a busy business.
“We have a very loyal crew,” he said of his staff of a dozen employees. Some of them, like Doug Adams, the Waldorf store manager, have been with him since the start. And his Lexington Park manager, Chuck Schmalgemeyer, has been with him since that location opened in 1996.
“I try to have an open door policy, Merewitz says of his relationship with his employees. That, and employee benefits such as health care coverage and 401l plans, have contributed to his ability to retain employees, a benefit to his customers.
He has seen the business change quite a bit over time. When he first opened AAMCO concentrated on transmission work but the business has evolved into a full-serve repair operation.
Services available at the Waldorf and Lexington Park AAMCO locations include: Free Check Engine Light Service; Air Filter Replacement; Air Conditioning Services; Automatic Transmission Fluid; Automatic Transmission Repair and Rebuilding; Battery Maintenance Services’ Belts and Hoses Inspection; Brackets and Mounts; Brake System Service; Cabin Air Filter Service; Cooling SystemService; Computer Diagnostics; Electrical Systems Diagnostics; Engine Performance Services; Exhaust Repair/Replacement; Fuel Filter Replacement; Fuel Performance Diagnosis; Light Bulb Replacement Service; Lube, Oil & Filter Service; Manual Transmission, Repair & Rebuilding; Starting and Charging Systems; Steering and Suspension; Tire Rotation; Tire Replacement and Wiper Blade Replacement.
Transmissions still make up about 40 percent of the work at his shops, Merewitz said. They are unique in that addition to replacing the transmission they can also repair the individual problem in the transmission or rebuild it. “Just because a transmission isn’t working right we don’t just put a new one in,” Merewitz said.
Over the 25 years he has been active in the community and his two locations reflect that. Waldorf has a number of youth sports trophies lining the walls, reflecting his personal interest that rose naturally with his involvement with his three children in sports.
Merewitz also is a member of the St. Mary’s and Charles County Chambers Of Commerce and believes the organizations are helpful to small businesses.
“AAMCO is a good company. It’s a strong name,” he said when asked about his 25-year relationship with them. That doesn’t mean he has always agreed with everything they have done, he said, including being out of step from time to time with their advertising ideas. He currently sits on a franchisee marketing committee for the DC area.
He is proud of receiving the President’s Club Award for the second time in a ceremony late last year. The award goes to the highest producing 20 stores in the franchise system, but Merewitz says it also includes customer service and other factors.
His locations weathered the downturn in the economy quite well. On one hand more people held onto their cars longer, requiring the services his stores provide. “But it was a double-edged sword,” he said, noting that some people sold their extra cars because they couldn’t afford them.
Being a small business owner has its advantages. But, when asked what advice he would give to someone setting out on the same path he did, he said, “It’s surely not a 9-5 job.” That will become abundantly clear when an alarm goes off at one of his stores at three in the morning, he added.
The following is a description of AAMCO from Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia:
AAMCOis anAmericantransmission-repairfranchisefounded by Robert MorganandAnthony A. Martino(who used the first letter of each name to form the namesAAMCOand laterMAACO) during 1963 inPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania. Martino eventually ended his affiliation to manage theMAACOautobody-shop franchise, but Morgan stayed on with his son, Keith Morgan, succeeding him as CEO.
The firstAAMCO franchiseopened during September 1963 in Newark, New Jersey. With the direction of Robert Morgan, the business has expanded to franchises across North America.Today, AAMCO is the world’slargest franchisesystem of transmission specialists. AAMCO has about 800 franchises open in theUnited StatesCanada, andPuerto Rico
Comment On This Story!
Send This Story to a Friend!