With Thanksgiving and the holidays around the corner, our Store Team Members are giving thanks. We asked them to share the automotive experiences for which they’re most grateful, and we were truly inspired by what has shaped their paths. Whether it was learning how to work on cars from family members or mentors, interacting with customers at the store, or teaching others how to DIY, these stories demonstrate the genuine spirit of the season. Read on to see what they’re thankful for.
Photo Credit: denlinkbarmann
From Wesley Mathis — Murray, KY
My dad has been gone from this world for three years this January, and I am so indebted to him and the life lessons that he taught me over the years. I remember my dad working on Mom’s car and his trucks to keep them in top shape. Dad showed me how to do everything on a car, from changing oil to a camshaft to even obsolete tasks such as replacing points and condensers in a distributor. The most important life lesson, however, that my dad taught me applies to both cars and life in general. I remember one spring in the 1980s while we were working on the hydraulic hoist on a 1967 Chevy C60, my dad was looking down on me with his prematurely aged skin from years of working in the sun as a farmer and his button-up blue shirt that he always wore, saying, “Son, it is shameful to be lazy. To hire for a job that you are capable of doing yourself is just wasteful and lazy. One will always take more time than money; take that time to figure out the problem and repair it.” That advice from a 10th-grade dropout (because he had to work on the family farm) I have found works with everything in life, everything from my 1970 Chevelle SS to marriage.
From Patsy Langston — Dothan, AL
I have worked in automotive parts, service, body shop and paint for over 38 years. In all of that time I have to say I am most thankful for the lives that have crossed paths with mine. I have met some of the most wonderful people you could meet being in this business and have made lifelong friends. I have worked for and with people who have deeply inspired my life, met a few famous people, shared automotive nightmares and laughs, and laughed about the nightmares. All in all I couldn’t see myself enjoying anything so much and am thankful for the people who have been a part of it.
From Brian Sandeen — Machesney Park, IL
I was one of those people who grew up in a family where we never took care of our own vehicles. My parents were the type who always took their cars to the dealership for repairs, oil changes, etc., or replaced a vehicle every two years or so. When I began working for Advance in 2009, I had very little if any experience working on cars. I got this job because of my previous background dealing with computer-part numbers in a warehouse, and at that time I took the job just for something to do as I was a full-time parent.
Since then, my wealth of automotive knowledge has grown. Things that I couldn’t do seven years ago is now second nature. Having this job has taught me how to maintain my own vehicles, from the minor maintenance such as oil changes to major work such as changing an alternator, starter, doing brake jobs, and so on. I was able to practically rebuild the front end of our van thanks to what I have learned working for this company. I am thankful for the general manager at store 8138 in Kingwood, Texas, who took a chance on me and hired me. If it wasn’t for that opportunity, I wouldn’t have learned what I have over these last few years.
From Danita Bachman — Powell, WY
I am most thankful for everything my dad taught me, from the simple check your oil and tires to changing and repacking bearing and overhauling engines. It made me what I am today, a proud manager of a Carquest / Advance Auto Parts store. Now my dad isn’t able to even walk or use his hands, but I still do everything that it takes to keep our vehicles on the road and safe. I am thankful for the opportunities Carquest and Advance have given me, and I truly love every day I am here. Love to all my fellow managers and employees.
From Jim Nelson — Patchogue, NY
Thirty-five years ago I worked in an auto-parts store that had a repair shop as part of the operation. The service manager quit, and I was asked to run the shop. I had no experience running a shop, but I had two mechanics who had previously owned and run shops. They taught me the ins and outs of running a shop as well as where and how all parts functioned on the vehicle. I learned more in those three years than I have in the last 30 years. I will be forever grateful to those two men.
I learned more in those three years than I have in the last 30 years.
From Mario Ortiz — Houston, TX
I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. Youngest of eight children. I have four brothers and three sisters all with interests in cars, a few more so than the others. Growing up with fairly modest means, I remember going to the parts yards with my father, who was always working on something. Anxious to help however I could, I would constantly point or pick up parts at the local pick-a-part yard asking, “Is this what you need?” It amazed me how my father could look at what I picked up and in an instant reply, “No, that only fits a 1974 model.” I was bitten by the car bug at an early age and proudly carry the affliction as I have now been in the automotive parts and supplies industry for over 25 years. I love teaching a new generation of car enthusiasts about parts and how to best take care of their car, as it recalls so many fond memories of a father we dearly miss.
A warm thanks to our Team Members who contributed their wonderful stories. Do you have fond automotive memories you’re thankful for? Share your stories in the comments.