History of Hillmuth Certified Automotive
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My first experience working on cars was painting them with my Dad in the backyard. In 1965, when I was sixteen, I went to work at Hillandale Amoco as a gas jockey. Later, recognizing my interest and aptitude for cars, the owner sent me to technical school to learn automobile mechanics. I learned a lot from the school but learned even more on the job and from others in the business. Even back then I did not like being called a ‘grease monkey’ and felt that the automotive-service profession should enjoy higher status. Drawing on my experience and my own ideas for a different approach to automotive repair, I opened our first shop in 1978 with my brother and my wife.
The philosophy of our new business was simple: to enhance and noticeably improve the drivability of our customer’s vehicles by taking the time to properly repair them. We wanted our customers to really notice a difference in the performance of their cars and trucks after bringing them to Hillmuth. Establishing long-term relationships of confidence and trust, as well as lasting friendships, was our goal.
In addition, it has always been important to us to have our employees be proud of where they work and to provide them with the latest training and most up-to-date equipment so as to enable them to perform their jobs as well as they possibly can. As we have grown, these ideals and our commitment to better service have remained the foundation of Hillmuth’s spirit of the business.
From the beginning we have been very successful with our dedicated approach to automotive maintenance and repair. When I left Hillandale and went to Columbia 22 miles away, a few dozen customers still came to me. Indeed, we still work on some of the same customer vehicles that I serviced when I was at Hillandale 25 years ago! A picture is hanging on the wall of our office in Columbia that Resalie Levin Brower, one of our original Hillandale customers, did for us. Then there was Mr. Fowler’s car, which I would periodically pick up and deliver back to him.
Just the other day Lewis Robertson, our first Columbia customer, gave me an emergency call and we took care of him right away. I remember when we first went to Columbia how appreciative the people were when we would get their vehicles back to them in the same day. I remember Bee and Sylvia Trupin bringing us a gift for going out late one Saturday afternoon to rescue them. We drove them home and took their vehicle back to the shop and installed a ballast resistor, then delivered the car back to them so they would have it for the weekend. They were lifetime customers from then on. Now the children of our customers are coming to Hillmuth. What a feeling to see a second generation trusting us and building friendships!
Our first technician, Barry Robinson, is still in contact with us. Ed Robinson, the third technician we hired in 1980, is still with us and is a key member of our team. Many of our past employees still keep in touch with us as they have grown and gone on to become industry leaders and professionals.
It has been good to see others grow and advance within our company; to share Christmas holiday parties and company picnics and to see their families grow as well. At our twentieth anniversary picnic, celebrated in 1998, it was truly heartwarming to see past employees and associates who have all been part of the Hillmuth extended family down through the years.
Through caring and sharing peoples’ problems, challenges, hopes, dreams, and rewards, we at Hillmuth have been able to better serve others and successfully grow our business.