Adventure loving couple, Billy and Morgan Kuehlewind, bring tons of fun into our shop. From Billy’s tactful sense of humor to Morgan’s contagious energy, we look forward to the Kuehlewind’s visits.
Billy works in audio visual and Morgan works at home with baby Liam as a freelance math textbook curriculum writer. Their life looks pretty average now, but they spent the past few years working for an international non-profit organization that took them to seven different countries. Now that they are settled into a more traditional lifestyle, they enjoy visiting their extensive network of family and friends in their 2007 Hyundai Accent, the non-baby two door manual car, and their 2006 Toyota Corolla, which they dub the “baby limousine.” This is just a tiny peek into the fun this couple brings to any conversation.
Our relationship with Billy and Morgan goes back further than the shop, though. Billy and Andrew were roommates when Andrew was studying to be an automotive technician and recalled a time when he went somewhere and was told to take care of something which Andrew was quickly able to advise that his car doesn’t even have! Well, the more he heard Andrew talking about how he operates as a mechanic, the more he saw that he was a guy he could trust. Both Billy and Morgan were excited for us when we opened the shop and became some of our first customers.
As it turns out, the Kuehlewinds trust us so much that they have dubbed themselves “Marinelli Auto Service Evangelists” and share their testimony of their first experience with us every time they recommend us to someone. We certainly owe a lot of business to them, for which we are incredibly grateful.
It all started in March 2015. They had been working with a non-profit organization that took them all over the U.S. as they raised funds and then all over the world, so they had downsized to one car – a 2007 Hyundai Accent. Their house had recently sustained flood damage, so Billy was forced to stay home from a work trip to North Carolina and Morgan went by herself. She was nearly back home when she realized something was wrong. Thankfully she was able to safely pull over and call Billy, who came to pick her up in a rental. Now they had to figure out what to do.
They called Andrew, and upon his advice, they took the car to the used car dealer where it was purchased, along with a service package, hoping whatever was wrong would be covered. Knowing some of the mechanics there, Andrew told them who to ask for to work on their car.
Billy reflects, “I remember [talking to Andrew about how frustrated he was with the state of the whole auto industry. People weren’t honorable and cutting corners and stuff and, I don’t necessarily think that’s unique to that industry.
“For him to say that he knows a guy at the dealership that does good work, ‘So if you are going to have it done there, go to him knowing that other people cut corners, but this guy does it right. He’s the one you want,’ it’s counterintuitive. You’d think he’d say, ‘You can’t trust anyone there, you should bring it to our shop.’ But he said, ‘If you have it done there, here’s how to do it.’”
As it turns out, the repair would not be covered. Not only that, they suggested junking it with them for $500 but couldn’t show them any comparable vehicles for a price they could afford. So, they brought it to Andrew who diagnosed and repaired the major internal engine damage caused by the failed timing belt.
The Kuehlewinds realized that they wouldn’t have been able to get a car as good as what they had for the same cost as the repair.
“When he got it all done, Andrew said, ‘This car can go 100,000-200,000 more miles.’ Repairing it was a much better investment than buying a new car,” shared Morgan.
She continued, “That was in 2015 and it recently just crossed over the 140,000 mile mark. We had a lot of life left in it, so it was totally worth it to fix it than to junk it. I love that Andrew’s philosophy is, ‘If you want to run the car until it’s dead, I’m going to help you do it.’ That’s really encouraging because we’re in the mindset of, we don’t want to replace it unless it’s necessary. Cars can go a lot longer than people think. You just need someone who can instruct you on how to care for it, especially when it’s a little older.”
The crux of their testimony comes when Billy brought the vehicle back in for routine maintenance and Andrew decided to check his previous work.
Billy tells people, “He noticed this tiny leak that I would have never seen or checked for and he was like, ‘Ooh, that’s what I worked on!’ So, he took some extra time, under warranty, to reopen it and get a new head gasket and reseal it. I tell people, he’s completely honest. He saw something that I would have never noticed, he looked at it because he was in there for another reason, and said, ‘I need to make that right.’”
After that experience, Billy and Morgan knew that they would continue bringing their cars to us. They even ended up buying a second car – the Toyota Corolla – from one of our customers because they knew the previous owner was on top of repairs and maintenance and had trusted us to help them take good care of it. Both their Accent and their Corolla have gone through our Comprehensive Inspection in order to reveal any issues their cars might have and prevent any problems like those they had with their Accent before they came to us.
Morgan explains, “Andrew understands people are on a budget, so we had him do a Comprehensive Inspection. He makes a list and sorts it into what needs to be done now, or in 6 months, or a year, and you can save up for and plan for it. We’re budgeters and planners, and it’s better to know it has to happen rather than be surprised. So, if I was going to recommend a service, that’s what I would recommend.”
Billy and Morgan are certainly A+ customers, but they are also fun and genuine people. It’s because of people like them that we do what we do and feel good about the service we provide.
If I could describe Dawn with one word, it would be “thoughtful.” She doesn’t waste time getting things done, but she definitely approaches everything she does with sincere thoughtfulness. It’s how she runs her business, Whitestone Professionals, LLC, and it’s how she handles her auto repair decisions.
It’s no wonder, because Dawn runs one of the most unique businesses I’ve ever heard of. “Through Whitestone Professionals, LLC, I help individuals and organizations increase their influence, their impact, and their income. I help people set their goals and get things done,” she tells me. As a licensed therapist, she has a few ways she does this, but as she says, “My greatest uniqueness is something I call Strategic Prayer. One of the things I’m passionate about is helping people hear from God. I help people understand God’s purposes and plans for them and be able to confidently implement them.”
After spending time with Dawn, I’ve been able to bring insight and direction to the shop that has increased efficiency in customer interactions, administrative work, as well as how the shop functions. It’s so neat that Dawn gets to experience the improvement to our business first-hand whenever she brings us her 2007 Toyota Prius.
“My whole family has loved this car, so I’m not anxious to part with it,” Dawn shares. After a sudden death in the family, there was a swapping around of vehicles and Dawn ended up with her parent’s year-old Prius. It was the first time her parents had bought a brand-new vehicle and, as a middle school science teacher, her dad was excited to have an environmentally friendly car.
“My whole family has loved this car, so I’m not anxious to part with it.”
After 10 years of driving it, she’s seen that not only is the gas mileage and comfortable ride ideal for the vast amounts of driving she does with two active teenage daughters and a business that keeps her on the go. Even more miles are added when her thoughtfulness leads her to do favors for those around her (present company included!), so you’d better believe she spends a lot of time in her car. In fact the only thing she doesn’t like about it is how it handles in the rain because of the heavy battery in the back-end.
No wonder Dawn wants to keep her Prius for as long as possible! That’s exactly what attracted her to us. “Marinelli Auto Service wants to help people to be good stewards of their cars. I love that concept!” she exclaimed to me. Dawn doesn’t like debt, and she never wants to have a car loan ever again, so she’s diligently saving for her next car while she continues to invest in her Prius to keep it running well and we’re glad to help.
“Marinelli Auto Service wants to help people to be good stewards of their cars. I love that concept!”
“It’s been great to get the comprehensive inspection and have Andrew tell me exactly what I’m looking at and what definitely needs to be done and when it needs to be done. It’s just great to be able to trust your mechanic. Whether it’s true or not, mechanics have a bad reputation. It’s so good to know my mechanic – to know the family.”
We can tell when customers, like Dawn, have come to trusting us because when she brings us her car, she doesn’t require a lot of detail. Dawn thoughtfully takes into consideration Andrew’s expert evaluation and advice and she just says, “fix it.” We’re thankful that we have her trust and to see her drive away happy.
On a chilly morning in early January, I popped in on Don Kirkendall at his office at Kirkendall Insurance to ask him about his car. I have a unique relationship with Don because, not only does his company provide our Garage and Liability Insurance, but he’s also a customer.
He’s not just any customer, though. He is steadily working on restoring a 1984 5.0 GT Ford Mustang Convertible and is very enthusiastic about his confidence in Marinelli Auto Service to serve him well. In fact, many times he comments on our Facebook posts with, “I won’t let anyone else touch my Mustang!”
“I won’t let anyone else touch my Mustang!”
We’re glad he feels that way, because we won’t let anyone else handle our insurance! The truth is, Don cares about his car and we care about Don, and that’s why we also care about his car.
Why a 1984 Mustang Convertible?
When I asked him why he bought this particular vehicle, his response was sure, “There was one right down the street that was actually in a little better condition [than the one I bought] and I stared at it for a month. I’m thinking ‘I’m gonna get it, I’m gonna get it, I’m gonna get it,’ and of course, the day I drive down to get it, it was gone the day before. Never fails.”
So Don waited, played around with a motorcycle for a while and it didn’t really tickle his fancy like the Mustang did, so he sold it and finally purchased a Mustang. “It’s not something I would want to drive every day, especially because of the horrible gas mileage it gets, but it’s fun. It’s a work in progress.” Every time he does a little bit of work on it, the more excited he gets about it.
I also found out that the significance of it being manufactured in 1984 wasn’t really significant to him…until it was.
“I wasn’t paying attention [to the year] at the time, because if I had to do it over again, I’d have an ‘87…well, ‘87 and up. All the parts are there, it’s just fantastically easier to get them for ‘87 and up. The other one I looked at was a ‘91 and so, really, I wasn’t paying that much attention to what year it was. I wanted a fox body, so that made that easy.
“Now what’s comical is all the things that are happening to me, based on 1984. All of a sudden there’s a song and you’re like, ‘oh, I didn’t remember that,’ and you were in a certain place, or you moved that year, or something and it’s comical how many things revolve around that.”
I then ask him if he knew that Andrew (my husband and owner of Marinelli Auto Service) was born in 1984. “No, I didn’t know that! That’s funny, working on a car made the year you were born! So about the time he would have hit high school, that would have been a really popular car with a lot of people.”
Family Time in the Mustang
For Don, cars aren’t just a get from one place to another. Yes, he has a newer reliable daily driver, but the weekends are for “putzing around” in one old automobile or another. When I asked how his wife felt about all these old cars he tells me, “She’s been through this before.” He owned a 1965 Triumph Spitfire, then got a 1959 Edsel Wagon, and then came the 1984 Ford Mustang Convertible.
Owning these cars aren’t just about “putzing around,” though. He likes to take his grandchildren to car shows, and eventually plans to exhibit his Mustang once the renovations are complete. He enjoys having conversations about what he’s done on the vehicle and what he plans to do. But mostly, he enjoys the time it affords him with his family.
I try to drive it every weekend.
“I try to drive it every weekend. Convertibles are like boats, you want to let it get exercise. On Saturday, I’ll take it over to the office or, if there’s a car show, my granddaughter and I will take it there. I haven’t gone very far with it, yet because my confidence isn’t there, yet. I was really glad when the guys [at Marinelli Auto Service] did the brakes because it would go a lot faster than it stopped.”
Investing in The Fun
As much as Don enjoys the fun aspects of having an older vehicle, he also wants to be able to know that the people riding with him are safe and wants to be wise with his investment. He doesn’t claim to know everything there is to know about his car.
“You’ve gotta find a good mechanic that understands what you want to do. I’m a big believer in, once they start taking it apart, to fix whatever needs to get fixed. Years ago I had a truck. The guy takes it in and pulls the water pump for me and I specifically said to him, ‘If you find another problem, let me know.’ Well, when I go to pick the truck up, he says, ‘You gotta keep an eye on that little hose from the water pump,’ and I go, ‘Didn’t I specifically say to do this?’ ‘Well, yeah.’ Two weeks later, that hose went. You have to take the whole front off the motor to get all that stuff off, and so you’re far better off [doing it all at once].”
That’s when Don satisfied my curiosity – without my having to ask – why, if he’s so knowledgeable and so particular about his vehicles and who gets to work on them, he brings his beloved Mustang Convertible to us.
You have to remember, he’s looking at everything…and it’s a good thing because you want to know those little things.
“I was telling someone this morning, ‘I took it over there, and I said to Andrew, “Do a complete review of it and tell me what’s wrong.” I figured I would get back 2-3 paragraphs…and I got back 3 pages! I took it home and I showed it to my wife and said, “You have to remember, he’s looking at everything. This isn’t a typical guy fixing cars in garages and it’s a good thing because you want to know those little things.”
We care about Don and Don cares about his car and the memories he wants to make in it with his family, so we do everything we can to give Don the most accurate information we can so he can make the most informed decisions he can. And so Don checks off boxes on the 3 page list that Andrew prepared for him as finances allow, starting with safety concerns, like the brakes, and so on down the list until he finally gets to a point when he’ll enter his dear Mustang Convertible in a car show. I think I’d like to go to that car show!
-From the Mechanic’s Wife
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