Friday, 21 September 2018 08:40

Custom Auto Builders Focuses on Service, Quality Control in IA

Written by Elda Stone, Globe Gazette
Steve Tass, Sean Hook, Jason Tesch, Debbie Bryan and Kristy Tass with Custom Auto Builders. Steve Tass, Sean Hook, Jason Tesch, Debbie Bryan and Kristy Tass with Custom Auto Builders.


Cristy, who graduated a year after Steve from Mason City High School, was living in Arizona when he opened the business.


“He wanted to do this, and I wanted him to move to Arizona. So I moved back---I loved him!” she said, laughing.


After Brad left the business, Steve hired employees and began doing repairs for insurance companies. He said it’s essential to keep up with the latest automotive standards and the requirements of multiple insurers.


“We go to continuing education to be a preferred shop for insurance companies,” he explained. “Technicians have to be trained, equipment has to be up to date, and we have to follow procedures.”


That includes certifications by the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence, or ASE, achieved through coursework online, in a classroom setting, or at the shop.


“Employees are happier too. They feel confident knowing they are doing it the right way,” he said.


Vehicle technology gets more complicated all the time.


“In ’83, we didn’t have electric or hybrid cars. At first, we started out with maybe one to three computers in cars. Now there are 30 computers in an average car, around 100 in an electric car. And their programs have about 100 million lines of code, more than a jet fighter,” he said.


He’s also seen great improvements in safety equipment.


“In 1983, a sealed headlight beam cost $20. Now a headlight system costs over $1,300, but it provides much better visibility,” he said. “We have air bags and designs that protect the passenger compartment. The same hit years ago that would have killed a person---today they would live.”


Cristy pointed out, “You can’t be in business for 35 years without great employees.”


Besides Debbie, they’ve employed Jason Tesch, master technician, for 19 years, and Sean Hook, painter and body technician, for 11 years.


“These guys have grown up with us,” she said.


They gave credit to their friends Scott Schneckloth, who kept the shop running during a difficult time in the 1990s while Steve fought cancer, and Mark Ewy, who worked as general manager for eight years.