WAXHAW – Henn Automotive has been serving the community for 20 years, and owner Mike Henn has no intention of slowing down.
Mike Henn credits his company’s longevity to being able to fix cars the first time around, allowing customers to speak to a mechanic and building lasting community relationships easily.
“The community provided us with a great business, a great living, and we feel the need to give back,” Mike Henn said.
The company celebrated its anniversary April 5. Longtime customers, residents and Mayor Stephen Maher visited to enjoy barbecue, participate in a ribbon cutting and share memories.
“They [the Henns] truly exemplify what a being part of the community is,” Maher said. “They not only give back to Waxhaw, but they also give to the schools be it Waxhaw Elementary or Union Academy. They give back to the kids because they’re our future leaders.”
Mike Henn has had a love for cars since he was young, but some of his early cars never lasted without needing repairs.
“We used to fix our cars in our driveway when I was a kid,” he said. “I would either blow up, wreck or crash a car. My dad came up to me one day and said, ‘I’m done fixing your cars for you, so either learn how to fix it yourself or start walking.’”
Mike Henn chose fixing over walking. He opened his business when he was 26 shortly after he and his family moved from New Jersey.
“We were only married for a year before we moved down here,” Vice President Susan Henn said. “Back in 1997, we moved here and found the land pretty quickly, and we built on it pretty quickly.”
During that time, many people underestimated Mike’s knowledge of mechanics and business because of his age. He proved them wrong.
“I had an idea, and I worked hard towards it, put 110 percent in everything we do,” he said. “People are shocked that I started this. It wasn’t given to me by my father. I started this from the ground up as a young person.”
Henn Automotive provides a variety of services from a standard oil change to engine swaps. The business also has a certified technician for hybrid cars. Each technician attends classes to stay current with advancing technology.
Susan Henn said people are shocked that they will not give a price over the phone before looking at the car.
“Our premise is to look at the car first and save the customers money,” she said. “We don’t want to sell them something they don’t need. We want to build a relationship with the customer.”
One of the main challenges the business faces is YouTube.
“We live in a culture where everyone thinks they can fix everything by watching YouTube and that’s not true,” Susan Henn said. “A certified technician will notice little nuances in the repair and YouTube isn’t going to show you that.”
But the Henns want their customers to know what’s going on with their cars.
“It’s common of us to have a customer look at what I’m looking at and educate the customer,” Mike Henn said. “The better educated my customers are, the better they understand what I’m doing.”
The Henns also are proud to say they treat each customer and employee like family. In many instances, long-time customers have brought their children to the shop, and years later that same child will need their first car repaired.
The Henn family will continue giving back to the community they love and want the business to go for another 20 years.
“A dream turned into this wonderful business that focuses on quality, service, family and community,” said Pat Kahl, president of the Union County Chamber of Commerce. “They give back in so many ways. This is the poster child on how to build a small business. You come into a community, you deliver what you promise and then you give back to the community.”
Want to go?
Henn Automotive is located at 1152 N. Broome St., Waxhaw. Call 704-243-2540 or visit www.hennau to.com for details.