About Swedish Motors
Nothing like believing in your product to drive energy and value into your business. When we caught up with Rich Kushner, owner of Swedish Motors in Marietta, Pennsylvania, he was driving his 2006 SAAB 9-5 Aero Sedan back from Florida. He had just finished a round of winter racing with his 1963 Volvo 122 Amazon.
Rich and his family recently celebrated their 30th year of selling, servicing and restoring Saabs, Volvos and, recently, Audis. Minutes away from Harrisburg, Lancaster and York, Pennsylvania, the family-owned business proclaims on its website: "We are enthusiasts...No need to go anywhere else."
Rich's first brush with Swedish cars was mainly for survival purposes. He began working as a Volvo technician while attending Millersville University, PA, working his way through his last two years of college. While his technician skills were building, Rich was also watching the successes and shortcomings of his employer and fellow employees. From these experiences, Rich formed his own revelation, of sorts: in order to do your job well, it's best to specialize in servicing only one or two car makes. He also felt that a strong set of work ethics would keep his customers coming back.
After his six-year spell as a Volvo tech, Rich tried opening service shops of his own through two different partnerships. Though both partnerships failed, Rich still saw possibility. He opened Swedish Motors in 1981, advertising that his employees had a unique knowledge of Swedish cars and foreign parts. His niche was more than enough to preoccupy his technicians, some of whom have been with Rich since their service doors opened.
"Our expertise with Swedish automobiles dates back to the 1970s," says Rich, whose oldest employee has been with him the full 25 years. "We grew up with Volvo 544s, 122s, Saab 96s and SU carbs (Skinner's Union carburetors). We were certainly working on Volvo and Saab models from the 1960s." While his younger technicians have a better grasp of the newer cars, all are enthusiasts, who drive the same brands they service.
Though his staff's expertise may seem second nature, Rich reinforces his troops with regular, preventative training. Swedish Motors regularly enrolls his service and parts managers—even other technicians—to sit in on online workshops and training seminars.
Rich shares a common—rather passionate—bond with shop owners across the country who make up VolvTech. The group's site is a 24-hour online forum, allowing members to share information with each other online. "It is extremely valuable," says Rich of the group, now five years strong. "We exchange marketing ideas, financial ideas, and technical info to strengthen our businesses. We communicate constantly on our website and have three face-to-face meetings a year." During these meetings, the group will tour a member's store, critique his operations, and offer valuable insight.
This article was featured in a monthly automotive trade magazine and was written by Jennifer Rincon.