In May of this year, Rick and Michelle Grant became the sole owners of Metro Transmission and Automotive in San Marcos, California, situated in North San Diego County. However, they’re hardly newcomers to Metro or for that matter, to the industry. Rick and Michelle represent the most recent chapter in this family-owned legacy business.
Metro has been in the Grant family since it was initially established in October of 1983 by Rick’s dad, Bob Grant and Mike Johnson, Bob’s son-in-law. Bob and Mike responded to the famous Horace Greeley quote, “Go West, young man…” and tweaked it to their liking, “Go Southwest, young man…” Leaving a successful transmission business behind in Minnesota, they made to move to the ever-beckoning sunny Southern California.
Metro was the first transmission shop in San Marcos, starting out as a small 5-bay operation. The shop grew steadily and garnered a firm foothold in the area with its impeccable reputation for doing good work and treating people right.
Metro has been AAA Approved since 2009 and additionally maintains memberships in ATRA, ATSG, BBB, San Marcos Chamber of Commerce, and Elite Business Services. They also support the community by sponsoring the 2 local high schools’ athletic programs, the Boys & Girls Club, and the City of San Marcos 4th of July Celebration. Rick stated, “We feel that giving back to the community that supported us over the last 36 years is important.”
When I asked Rick if he had a role model or mentor, he didn’t hesitate a moment, “I’d have to say it was my father. The way he and my mother brought me up, teaching me early about ethics and integrity, and bringing that into the business. It’s about treating others with respect and the way you’d want to be treated – doing the right things for the right reasons. Our reputation in the community is very important.”
That commitment to treating others as you’d want to be treated has paid dividends for the business since day one, and it’s been handed down through the transition of family ownership.
While still in high school, in 1986, Rick followed the lead of his older brother, John, and joined the family business. During his apprenticeship years, Rick soaked up all he could learn about every aspect of the business. He’s an ASE Certified Master Technician and Transmission Rebuilder. To this day, Rick is Metro’s rebuilder.
Metro grew from 5 bays to 9 bays and continued to flourish under the leadership of Bob Grant and Mike Johnson. In 2005, after over 50 years in the automotive industry, Rick’s dad retired. Rick and Michelle proudly accepted the opportunity to partner with Mike and his wife, Brenda.
After 14 more successful years, Mike and Brenda also retired and placed the legacy of Metro into the capable hands of Rick and Michelle. Michelle commented, “We look forward to providing many more years of quality automotive service and customer satisfaction to the good people of North San Diego County.”
Metro’s Competitive Advantage
Michelle and Rick agreed that the long history of being family-owned and operated makes them unique among the other competing shops that have entered the market.
Rick stated, “Our customer service is priority one. We go above and beyond in making sure that every step in the customer service process is handled to perfection. It’s more than just fixing cars. It’s about building lasting relationships with our customers and their families. We start by carefully listening to their concerns. Our pinpoint diagnostics lead the way to being able to provide accurate price quotes. We thoroughly explain all the details and confirm that the customer understands what we’re doing for them and why. And after the work is done, we’re not done until we’ve confirmed that they’re satisfied.”
Rick’s wife, Michelle, is the office manager and as an ASE Certified Service Advisor, she also helps with customer service. Michelle added this firsthand comment, “We genuinely care about our customers, taking time to get to know them and their families who, after all, are the next generation of our customers.”
Big Decision in 2012
In 2012, Metro made the decision to add full-service auto repair. It was a natural evolution because it was clear that a holistic approach was required to diagnose and repair today’s vehicles. It’s necessary to understand how the various parts and components are intimately interconnected and interdependent.
While Metro has a modest outside sales program, they weren’t overly concerned about losing referrals from the general repair shops that were referring to them. The fact is that many of these shops added transmission service to their menu of services.
About the Team
The team has been assembled and continuously trained to assure that the company’s customer-first service culture remains as priority one.
Rick’s oldest brother, Robert Grant, joined the Metro team in May of 2019. He’s been in the auto repair field for over 30 years, starting as a technician and eventually transitioning to a service writer. Rick stated, “We can’t think of a better person to carry out our goal of customer satisfaction. Robert’s depth of experience and sincere concern for serving customers give him the ability to calmly advise and reassure customers while helping them make the best decisions regarding their car care needs.” In his spare time, Robert enjoys being with his family and studying the Bible.
Metro’s lead transmission installer tech is Darrell Logan. He’s been with the company for over 23 years, and of course, with that much time in the saddle, he’s capable of performing various responsibilities and achieves them all with quality and excellence. He’s a family man and enjoys long rides on one of his custom motorcycles during his off time.
When Metro started doing full-service repair work, Rick knew he needed an ASE Certified Master Technician. In 2014, he found one in Ricky Engebritson, a 25+ year veteran of the industry. His knowledge, experience, and skills are all vital assets when it comes to the complexity of today’s vehicles. Whenever he has time, you’ll find Ricky camping and ocean fishing.
Miguel Palos has been a member of the Metro family since 2015. His ability to provide a thorough and complete diagnosis and repair assures the quality of service Metro aspires to provide its customers. When he isn’t at Metro, Miguel spends time at the beach with his family and is active in his church.
Rick explained their plan, “Our short-term goal is to better accommodate our customers’ needs by being able to get them in quicker and turn their repairs around ever more efficiently. The good news is that we’re typically very busy, but the bad news is sometimes that means we need to push appointments out 2-3 days. We don’t like having to do this. So, to accomplish our objective, we’re downsizing the parts room to make space for the rebuilding area. We also plan to hire one more tech and add one more hoist to provide faster turnaround times.”
Rick and Michelle echoed each other’s sentiments, “Our future plans are focused on one thing – doing what’s best for our customers. Taking care of our customers and their needs is why we’re in business. We have a reputation for standing behind our work, and our word is our bond. We’re happy that we’re known as the shop where customers send their friends.”