Maintenance Reader Profiles

E&M Motors Goes the Extra Mile

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E&M Motors Goes the Extra Mile

E&M Motors is located in Stuart, Fla., about 40 minutes north of Palm Beach. The area is rich with history from Spanish galleon shipwrecks to hurricanes and even a story about pirate Pedro Gilbert, who tried to board a U.S. Merchant ship in the 1830s, only to be caught and executed.

This Florida Treasure Coast community is also considered one of the best small towns in the U.S., as well as the Sailfish Capital of the World. The county has a total population of around 175,000 people.

E&M Motors was voted “Best Auto Repair and Service” for 2015 by the Stuart News readers for the 14th straight year. The community also named E&M Motors the best auto services and repair provider for 12 straight years.

Owner Gary Keyes says his shop offers general automotive repair as well as increasing specialization in Asian-branded vehicles.

The shop opened in 1974 and Keyes purchased it in 1995. Keyes has been servicing vehicles for 40 years and has been an ASE Master Certified Technician since 1978. He’s also an active member of the Auto Service Association (ASA), and a strong advocate for membership in that organization.

Keyes was kind enough to share his philosophy, business approach and some financial information with ASP. 


While the shop has traditionally serviced most makes and models, Keyes noted that the shop’s emphasis is now shifting somewhat in order to place greater focus on specific brands including Toyota, Lexus, Acura and Honda. He noted that “this makes tooling and parts stocking easier, with greater clarity and direction. We stay away from high-end German vehicles though, which is a niche unto itself.”

Business philosophy

“In order to gain loyal new customers, you need to establish a high level of trust from the outset. We go the extra mile to assure the customers that they’ve come to the right place by treating them with respect and fixing the problem right the first time, in a timely manner and at a fair price,” said Keyes.

“We make a point to take the time to educate the customer with regard to the need for regular inspections and preventive maintenance, which can eliminate 90% of potential break-down issues.”

Parts purchasing

When asked about what factors he considers in his parts buying decisions, Keyes provided a ranking, from 0 to 3, with 0 having no influence and 3 having the greatest influence:

  Price                                           1

  Brand name recognition             2

  Promotion in racing                    0

  Quality                                        3

  Availability/time                           3

  Warranties                                  2*

*Some parts offer a lifetime warranty, which is always a consideration.

“In terms of quality,” he noted, “the number one consideration is actual quality, as opposed to perceived quality. We know, from experience, what brands we want to buy, which can, on occasion, differ from a customer’s notion of perceived quality.

“We don’t want a comeback due to an inferior part, so we stress the use of what we consider quality parts. Availability and time... the speed at which we can obtain the part is crucial. Price is way down on the list. If we want OE quality for a specific application and it costs a bit more, we’re OK with that. It’s all for the benefit of the customer and for our shop’s reputation for quality,” said Keyes.

Keyes’ shop buys directly from a Federated WD. Interestingly, he buys OE parts through them, buying directly from new-car dealers “a couple of times each month.”

Keyes does buy from local jobbers, but since one jobber changed affiliation, he no longer buys from them.    ■


Stuart, Florida

Owner — Gary Keyes

Business founded — 1974 (Keyes purchased the business in 1995 from a fellow ASA shop owner)

Number of bays — 6

Number of technicians — 2 ASE Master Techs and one general service tech

Shop size — 3,000 square feet

Number of vehicles serviced per month — 125 (passenger cars and light trucks)

Hourly labor rate — Varies from $99 to $129 depending on diagnostics required

Average job ticket — $498

Gross profit — 60.7%

Annual tool and equipment expenditures — $12,500 average, including technical service subscriptions

Read another Business Profile here:

The Importance of Being Auto Centric: Repair Facility Is on a Quest for Excellence

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