In one of our latest episodes of Diesel Stories, Jacob and Chris chatted with one of our favorite people: Jay Goninen, founder and president of Find A Wrench and co-founder and president at WrenchWay.
Jay’s formative years were spent in Wisconsin, in a little town about an hour outside Madison. His father, a former police officer, bought a repair shop when Jay was about nine, and Jay credits a lot of the success Find A Wrench has attained with the time he spent there. “We couldn’t afford to bring on extra people,” he says, “so it resulted in me answering phones, scheduling appointments, even doing some of the light accounting and filling out deposit slips and some of that other stuff. I got thrown into the fire as a really, really young person.”
Like lots of kids who grew up in a wrenching environment, Jay decided to try his hand at being a technician. Unfortunately, he admits, he wasn’t a great tech.
He stayed in the industry, working for Bobcat and later John Deere, but over time the long hours and commute wore him down. “I had the idea and bought the domain [for Find A Wrench] in 2004 and never did anything about it,” he says. He had watched the tech shortage worsen over the years, and began wondering if he could do something about it. “I think most people thought I was nuts, but then my wife was like, ‘Hey, you know what I think we can do it and I think we can pull it off.’”
The guys talk all about Find A Wrench’s early adventures, as well as provide some critical business acumen for anyone looking to get a company off the ground. Some of the subjects they hit on include:
- The importance of preventive maintenance when it comes to warranties
- How a volatile work environment leads to intense tech turnover (and fortunately, how shops are changing their cultures)
- The unique staffing issues diesel repair shops face
- Bobcat’s mysterious connection to Han Solo and Luke Skywalker
- “As a young business owner, you don’t want to admit you’re too small”—and how that mindset can impact your operation
Jay is full of awesome stories and advice, and we’re thrilled that he was willing to join us for this extended conversation. Go ahead and listen to the entire podcast here, and don’t forget to visit Find A Wrench and WrenchWay if you need to hire a tech!