Mechanic Enjoys Calling the Shots at his Garage in Washington
BY KATE SHELDON
Most people don’t think much about getting their vehicles worked on or repaired, and it probably doesn’t even cross some people’s minds how extensive the time put into these repairs is. This, however, is not true for Mark Podolek, owner of the Car Care Center in Washington, Pa.
Podolek, 52, has been passionate about anything with wheels for as long as he can remember. He had many hot rods and dirt bikes when he was younger and always enjoyed messing around with cars, he said. When he was growing up in Washington, he had a lot of opportunities to hunt and ride his motorcycle, two of his favorite activities. Today, he also enjoys lifting weights at the gym.
After working at NAPA Auto Parts and then being a
manufacturing manager at Calgon Carbon Corporation, he decided it was time for a change, he said.
Podolek purchased The Car Care Center on Henderson Avenue in 2003. He said he started a business because, “I decided that after my last job where I worked for someone else, I would never work for anyone else again. Then the Car Care Center became available.”
The Car Care Center, is of course, an auto repair shop, but Podolek said, “We’re different from our competitors because we very seldom turn down any job or task that we come across, and we specialize in almost everything automotive. We also not only offer vehicle maintenance, but also complete collision service.”
With each of the five employees at the Car Care Center, not including Podolek, a typical day consists of repairing cars, ordering parts and answering phone calls. The Car Care Center offers maintenance, such as oil changes and tire rotation. Along with these services are mechanical repair, such as brakes and air conditioning services, and also collision repair. The five employees and Podolek also do custom painting, rust-proofing and detailing.
Podolek said that “With the way this economy is now, considering the presidential regime we’ve had, there are busy and slow times, but the flow of customers and jobs is usually fairly constant.”
He said he finds a great deal of satisfaction when a customer calls back and says how pleased he or she is with the job that has been completed.
Being the owner and manager of The Car Care Center, Podolek oversees the operation but also gets his hands
He said he is willing to do anything necessary to provide a quality service to each customer and doesn’t really mind any job, even though he said, “I don’t like changing heavy tires. They’re really just awkward to do.” He said one of the most satisfying parts of his job is “the fact that I can provide a living for my family without anyone telling me what to do. [That] makes me feel the most accomplished.” There are, however, some challenges to this business, as well, such as “when a vehicle is difficult to diagnose and do a correct repair on,” he said.
Another frustration is “when a customer says we charge too much for a service that we do here,” he said.
Podolek said one of the most important qualities for a position in this field is to know diagnostics. Even though he did not go to school for this job field, he said it is very important to get the right education to be able to perform the things that are done on a daily basis at The Car Care Center. He recommended to get all the training one can possibly get.
He said although there is always something to be done while at work, he tries to make the atmosphere as laidback as possible for his employees and himself.
Podolek’s motto is that “We all have to work for a living, so we might as well have a little fun doing it.”
Kate Sheldon is a sophomore at California University of Pennsylvania, majoring in Journalism. She enjoys music, hanging out with friends, and photography. Find out more about her on her website and blog.