Members of Missouri’s automotive community gathered March 21 to celebrate the retirement of Gene Slattery of Automotive Technology Inc. (ATI).
Held at Syberg’s in Maryland Heights, MO, the party was planned by Gene’s wife, Barb; his son, Doug; and daughter-in-law, Sheri Slattery. Gene’s daughter, Kris, and her husband, Dave Leshovsky, drove in from Kansas City to attend the retirement party.
AASP-MO Executive Director Ron Reiling shared, “Gene is so badass in our industry that Chuck Norris has Gene’s picture on his wall. It was a wonderful celebration of a great friend and colleague who loves his customers and the automotive repair industry and who works tirelessly to bring young people into this industry. Gene is a true industry advocate who loves this industry.”
More than 75 industry professionals, friends and family members were present to celebrate Gene’s efforts throughout his automotive industry career, which has spanned more than 50 years. Many attendees took the microphone to thank Gene for all he has done and continues to do for the industry. One of the highlights of the evening was Doug’s PowerPoint presentation detailing his father’s career.
Gene began his career in 1965 when he purchased a Pure Oil Service Station at the age of 20 years old.
He shared, “I was the only 20-year-old who owned a service station in Wisconsin since you had to be 21 at that time. They turned me down when I was 19, and one year later, the guy they put in the station went broke, so Pure Oil agreed to make an exception for me. I sold my 1963 Ford Fairlane convertible that I loved and bought a pickup truck, which impressed the banker so much that he was willing to loan me what I needed to open the service station. I had to learn everything and went to all training programs to learn how to diagnose and repair vehicles. I joined an automotive association right away and became a great supporter.”
Having bought from the company, Gene became a sales representative for Sun Electric Corporation several years later and eventually went on to become its regional sales manager.
After leaving Sun Electric Corporation, Gene was encouraged by seven local body shops to form ATI, which he founded in 1982 with Barb.
Gene recalled, “Our philosophy was to listen to the customer and solve their problems, and that’s how ATI evolved into what it has become.
“Relationships and taking care of the customer are what helped us grow into the company we are today. Our family developed relationships with vendors and customers by solving their issues and making sure that ATI serviced all the equipment we sold. My mottos were: ‘We don’t go away after the sale,’ ‘We repair, service and install right the first time,’ and ‘Do it now!’”
Gene worked 12-to-14-hour days to get ATI off the ground and continued that routine until his retirement. He began by training technicians and owners on proper diagnosis and repair. Nearly 40 years ago, he and seven body shop owners started the St. Louis I-CAR Committee.
Gene insisted, “A key to ATI’s success is providing training and supporting the industry.”
In the early 1990s, Doug joined the company during a period of growth and contributed his skills in business management. In May 2018, Doug assumed ownership of the company while Gene continued to serve as an ambassador for ATI.
According to Gene, “Our family business succeeded because my wife, my son and I worked extremely well together to build ATI into a successful business in 2019. The secret of working together is having each of our offices away from each other. That allowed us to work on each other’s strengths.”
In 2018, Gene became a founder and president of Active Surveillance Patients International (ASPI), a 501c3 that empowers men with rising PSA, those recently diagnosed with prostate cancer and those on active surveillance.
Although Gene was diagnosed with prostate cancer 10 years ago, he shared, “I am in better health today due to my research and implementation of lifestyle changes, exercise, supplements, faith, willpower, a special regimen and positive attitude. I am living a great quality of life with cancer and without treatments.”
Although he is technically retired, Gene still plans to volunteer in the industry through organizations such as I-CAR, WAC, AASP and MV-TAP, which promotes transportation programs at area schools. He will also continue to serve as an ambassador between ATI and those organizations.
Gene said, “My company would not be here if it were not for our family management team, employees, our customers and our manufacturers. Leaders provide the sky where others soar.”