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"We looked at each other like, 'How are we going to pay for this?'" ...
Mark Blair lives by the credo: if you do what you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.
The former painter, turned vehicle prepper, turned master technician, turned owner of Blair’s Auto Care Inc.
It all started in 1986 when Mark got a job at Don White’s Chrysler, Plymouth in Baltimore, Maryland,* (now called Thompson Chrysler, Jeep, Ram) as a “vehicle prepper.”
“I loved it because I got to drive all the new cars,” said Blair. “And I had to repair them if there was a problem. There was no computer to look up the fixes so I had to look up everything in books and figure it out myself.”
Blair, a natural born mechanic, enjoyed taking stuff apart and putting it back together his whole life. “As a kid, I always watched my neighbors work on their cars and trucks. I would hand them tools and ask a lot of questions.
Many years later, when my car needed work, I pestered people for advice on how to fix it. Finally, someone told me to start trying and, if it didn’t work, to try again,” said Blair.
It was advice that bode well for Blair within his first year at Don White’s. Within that time, his manager saw his potential and let him do more and more mechanical work. “We had several transmission problems and no one knew how to solve them or wanted to figure it out. So I asked if I could try,” Blair said.
That initiative was a turning point for Blair and it gave him a big opportunity to advance. Advance he did, by overhauling a problematic transmission and making it like new. His manager saw his potential and sent him to the Chrysler training school. In addition to receiving and maintaining a Master Chrysler and ASE Master Tech status, Blair became the top technician in the store from 1990 to 2002.
That success wasn’t enough for Blair’s driven spirit So, after nearly 17 years at the dealership, Blair took all of his know-how and talent and made an offer on a shop in Essex, a Maryland neighborhood. He opened Blair’s Auto Care and started with five bays and three lifts.
But that soon changed.
Blair quickly added a supplemental building with additional bays and an 18,000-lb. lift. He also put a lot of effort into making his shop absolutely pristine. The exterior landscaping is beautiful. In fact, Blair credits the exterior appearance of the shop with attracting many new customers. On the inside, all of the floors are epoxy coated and are mopped after every single job.
He also installed a 20-inch disco ball for parties.
Even after making the shift from dealership to an independent repair facility, Blair’s dealership roots and connection to FCA US LLC continue to run strong. “I still get all my Mopar® parts from the dealership where I used to work. I use a lot of those parts on my own FCA US vehicles, too.”
“Since I was a Chrysler tech for so long, it was strange to work on all makes and models. So the owner worked for me for a little over a year, helped me with the transition and introduced me to all of his good customers.”
Blair owns a 2007 Dodge 1500 4×4 with a 5.7L HEMI® engine, what he calls “The World’s Quickest Jeep®” Brand vehicle (look for it in a future Reader Rides in Mopar Magazine) and a 2004 Jeep Rubicon.
*Don White now owns a dealership in Timonium, Maryland.