Shop Owner Spotlight
Zimmerman’s Automotive Service, Inc.
CO-OWNER, ZIMMERMAN’S AUTOMOTIVE SERVICE, INC. →
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
WHAT IS YOUR NAME AND JOB TITLE?
Judy Zimmerman-Walter, Owner (with husband Jeffrey Walter) of Zimmerman’s Automotive Service, Inc.
WHERE IS YOUR SHOP LOCATED?
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR SHOP.
We operate the business which consists of three departments:
Service – 2 writers, a service manager, 6 full time techs, an apprentice, and a 12 bay shop
Quick Lube – 2 bays public and does all fluid services for the service departments
Used Auto Sales – 35-40 unit inventory
My father started the business in 1958 and had many family members help over the years. I came into ownership in 1995 and my husband soon thereafter. We bought all partners out in 2022 and are now the owners.
DOES YOUR SHOP SPECIALIZE IN ANY CERTAIN REPAIRS OR SPECIALTIES?
We are a family business and are a large staple in our community. Our area is suburban but was very rural when my father started the business. We are located along a main route to US15 and the traffic is big all day.
WHAT IS A FUN FACT ABOUT YOU AND/OR YOUR SHOP?
A fun fact is we are mechanics from Mechanicsburg. The town was named for a settlement of wagon mechanics during the Civil War. It is located about halfway between Harrisburg (the state capital) and the county seat Carlisle.
WHAT IS YOUR BUCKET LIST ROAD TRIP?
My bucket list trip is to do a road trip to visit my school roommate in Bellingham, Washington. Not sure if that will happen, but we shall see.
HAVE YOU BEEN TO THE AAPEX SHOW?
I have been to AAPEX for about 15 years straight until last year.
IF THE ANSWER IS YES TO THE ABOVE QUESTION, WHAT DID YOU FIND MOST BENEFICIAL? ANYTHING YOU WOULD CHANGE?
Attendance is very beneficial. Many years we went to see new pieces of equipment that we needed to buy. We had meetings of committees and associations at the show. We also attended training classes.
WILL YOU BE ATTENDING AAPEX 2023? WHY OR WHY NOT?
I will not make it this year due to circumstances and dates beyond my control.
DO YOU RECEIVE THE AAPEX NEWSLETTER? IF YES, DO YOU READ IT?
I do receive the newsletter and I do read it.
WHAT IS CURRENTLY THE BIGGEST ISSUE THE AUTOMOTIVE AFTERMARKET IS FACING?
The Right to Repair and new technology happenings such as ADAS and Electric Vehicles
WHAT HAVE BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOUR SHOP HAS FACED OVER THE LAST 2 YEARS?
Staffing, the attitude from a lot of folks that ALL need to go to college, and technology changes.
WHAT IS YOUR VIEW ON THE FUTURE OF THE AUTOMOTIVE AFTERMARKET?
I think there is a very good outlook for the industry as long as we keep the passion going and train it in our young employees. We need to educate the public on Right to Repair and develop a trust with our customers/community.
IF YOU COULD GIVE OTHER SHOP OWNERS ONE PIECE OF ADVICE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Get involved and get to know your community. Invite them in to visit your shop to see the equipment and tools it takes to work on vehicles. Form a relationship with your customers. When things are too technical for the customer to understand they can rely on the relationship of trust you have developed and they can in turn trust your expertise. It does not happen overnight but it is worth the effort on your part.
HOW DOES SUSTAINABILITY AFFECT THE AUTOMOTIVE AFTERMARKET?
There are a lot of positive opportunities for businesses. My business has adapted in many ways. We heat our shops with waste oil in the winter and the leftovers on off season go to a recycler. We take used oil from DIYers as long as they sign a statement that it is just oil. We take all heavy metal to a recycler. We separate all recyclables on our daily trash.
WHAT NEW OPPORTUNITIES DO SUSTAINABILITY EFFORTS BRING TO THE INDUSTRY?
There is an opportunity for tire recycling and ways to use the product in new products. This all costs money so it is just part of the big cycle of technology usage and costing more money. I am not really complaining. It is just tough to explain to a customer why the prices keep going up. Cheap is the way things “usta” be in the automotive industry (but as my father, our founder, always said: “usta” died). I am excited to be a part of this industry. The new technology is amazing. The challenge is now to keep up with all the changes.
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