CARBONDALE — As a journeyman automobile mechanic, Todd Darnsteadt was driven in 2006 to start his own car repair business. He noticed up to that point in his career when he had taken a position a different automotive shop or dealer, he had customers that would follow him.
Many of them followed him as he established Today’s Technology, located in a former gas station on East Main Street in Carbondale. The business grew and those customers followed him again to a new location behind University Mall.
“We went from 1,200 square feet to 6,000 square feet, and business has been good and growing ever since,” Darnsteadt said, adding that the focus was always on the customer. “Originally, I think they followed me because they liked the way I looked over their vehicle and put their automotive repairs in order of importance. It helped them budget their auto expenses.”
With six full-time employees and one part-time team member, Darnsteadt again felt time was right to rev up with expansion, recently acquiring Purcell Auto Repair in Herrin.
“I had never thought that I would own two shops, but the opportunity arose, and I realized that now was the time to expand. Before now, I didn’t feel like I had the time to commit to it or the knowledge to have multiple shops. This was the right time,” Darnsteadt said.
With the previous owners ready to retire, Darnsteadt said he was able to acquire the business. Since the acquisition in March, he has expanded the shop’s hours and bring the same formula for success to Herrin that has worked for Today’s Technology.
“At both shops, our mission is to provide honest and affordable solutions to automotive problems with exceptional levels of service,” he said.
Darnsteadt explained that having two shops has brought some advantages and economies of scale.
“I’ve found with multiple locations, I have more purchasing power and that saves money,” he said. “One of the main things is with training. Now instead of paying for employee training at both locations, it’s more cost effective.”
He added that two locations as also allowed the shops to increase the number of services offered. For example, Pursell Auto Repair offers Darnsteadt’s customers alignment work, something space would not allow him to offer in Carbondale.
“If Pursell’s has customers who need exhaust work, they send them to my Carbondale location and if customers have suspension or alignment work that needs to be done, we send them to our sister company in Herrin,” he said.
The expansion has not been without its challenges.
“I’ve realized that I can never be in two places at the same time,” he said. “I’ve installed cameras at both locations so that I can just get an overview of what’s happening. It helps me view the work load and determine what we need to do to be successful.”
He said he also is learning how to handle multiple locations.
“I talk to lots of business owners in and out of my industry and I’m applying what they’ve done to be successful. I use advice that they give to take me in the right direction,” he added.
“Pursell’s already had a great reputation with a clean, well-equipped shop,” he continued. “I’m hoping that the workload there gets to be more than three employees can handle and that the reputation will equal or exceed Today’s Technologies.”
Darnsteadt says the journey from turning wrenches to entrepreneur and owner of multiple locations has been good for him.
“Some days when I’m trying to keep all of the plates spinning, I wonder about things, but then I realize that I can do this because I have the staff I need, with big hears and they are all behind me 100 percent. I think I’ve helped them believe in themselves and, in turn, they believe in the business and that keeps things going,” he said. “I get a great feeling knowing that every person who works at both shops depend on me to make good decisions so that they can provide for their families. That’s the center goal — you want to be able to provide for your own household, but you also want to be able to provide a job for somebody else to take care of theirs as well.”