AAMCO Franchise Review: Q&A with Kurt Wood
Veteran AAMCO owner opens up about a lifetime with the iconic transmission franchise and why the future of the brand looks brighter than ever before
AAMCO is a dynamic part of American car culture — as well as a vibrant part of hundreds of local economies across the nation. As one of America’s first franchise systems, AAMCO has a storied history of franchise owners who have succeeded over multiple decades, weathering economic downturns and establishing themselves as meaningful members of their communities.
For Kurt Wood, a multi-unit franchise owner in Salt Lake City, Utah, AAMCO was part of his community’s fabric to such an extent that his ambition was to become a transmission repair builder when he left high school in 1978. Kurt has since become one of the most successful franchise owners and remains a passionate advocate for the opportunities that franchising with AAMCO affords to entrepreneurs.
“I have been with AAMCO since I was 18,” Kurt says. “I was shortly out of high school. I had a friend who was working at the downtown shop, the same shop I would purchase a decade later. They needed a helper in the center. I was working as a mechanic in another local shop, but I left it for AAMCO, as I really wanted to learn how to repair transmissions. AAMCO was then and is still the best brand for transmissions, so it was an ideal opportunity. I started out sweeping floors and cleaning up the shop. Eventually I rose to become the center’s transmission rebuilder, and after that I became a manager because that was where the money was. I was 28 years old when the opportunity to buy the franchise came up, and I haven’t looked back.”
The AAMCO of today is stronger than ever before
Kurt is now in his 25th year as an AAMCO franchise owner and his confidence in the brand has never been higher than it is today. This is largely the result of a new leadership team led by CEO and President Brett Ponton, who prior to joining the iconic auto repair franchise, was the largest Jiffy Lube franchisee in North America, operating nearly 575 units. Under Brett’s leadership, AAMCO is rapidly emerging as a leader in Total Car Care, allowing franchise owners to win an outsized share of the $64 billion automotive repair market. AAMCO has also made significant investments to simplify the business model, increase profitability and provide an industry leading training platform that will keep AAMCO as the brand that Americans trust with their vehicles.
“AAMCO has always been a strong brand with a solid reputation, but I am very excited about the future of this brand,” Kurt says. “The executive team is really making good on their promises to move us forward, providing us with better technology to remain competitive. Our training platform at AAMCO University would have been unimaginable to me when I became an owner 25 years ago — it really is that advanced, and it keeps the entire system performing at an exceptional level across the board. For me, personally, Total Car Care has been extremely successful. It allows us to do more for our customers and increase our level of profitability. AAMCO has never been an easier business to own than it is right now.”
Becoming a meaningful member of your community
As an entrepreneur, Kurt is a terrific example of the American Dream. Not only has franchising with AAMCO provided him with a better life for his family, but his AAMCO centers exemplify the power of giving back.
“I’m very blessed to have been so successful,” Kurt says. “For me, and for a lot of my fellow owners, giving back to our communities is an important part of our success. We help low-income families with their auto repair needs, we fix cars for widows and if you’ve done this for as long as I have, the community becomes really appreciative. Our ability to give back deepens the bond between us and our community. Being successful has also increased my ability to have the time needed to give back. I’ve been involved with the local Boy Scouts here for decades, and I take veterans and disabled children on hunting trips. It’s a privilege for me.”
Kurt’s sense of community is also felt within his own franchise locations, taking the time to mentor his management staff, one of whom recently bought a location from Kurt.
“It’s important to nurture someone’s drive when you see it,” Kurt says. “This is a business that requires dedication and passion, and it’s a rare thing to meet someone with the drive to go into business for themselves. I’m grooming one of my new managers to eventually buy my second location, so that I can scale down to one store as I get older. It’s kind of cool to see people who are under your wing succeed. I was the product of that as well.”
Bring the iconic auto repair franchise to your community
With nearly 700 auto repair franchise locations across the country, AAMCO has remained a dynamic part of American car culture — as well as a vibrant part of hundreds of local economies — since we began franchising in 1962.
AAMCO is actively seeking single- and multi-unit operators who are passionate about the brand and committed to providing the highest-quality service. Interested candidates should have a minimum net worth of $250,000 and liquid assets of at least $65,000 per unit. Depending on the real estate selected, franchisees can expect the total investment to be approximately $227,400 to $333,000, with a $39,500 initial franchise fee. Reduced franchise fees are available for honorably discharged veterans. Since the auto repair franchise began offering a discounted pathway to veterans through its VetFran program in 2012, seven US veterans have joined the AAMCO franchise owner network.