I’ll lead in with a question I’m asked frequently by my Subaru customers.

Mike, How did you decide to go into Subaru? Well, kind of a long story but here it goes.

Back when I was younger I had a Seattle Times paper route. My goal was to save up enough so that when I was 16 I would be able to buy a car. Well, after having the route for over 4 years it came time to start looking for that first car. I ended up finding a friend of the family 1967 Mustang coupe with only 35,000 original miles (in 1981) . Man, it was pristine inside and out. Still even smelled new. This is where my love for cars started. I purchased a shop manual and started out my mechanical endeavor. It really didn’t need any repairs. I was just curious how things worked. I remember having the perfectly good carburetor apart on the kitchen table just to see how it worked. When my dad came home and saw what I had done he was aghast. “Michael.. what in the ____ are you doing? Now we’ll have to pay to have the damn thing fixed!” Needless to say when I reassembled it and the car ran perfectly he was quite amazed.

Being a young boy with a V8 I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear I crashed and totaled the car before I even had it for 6 months (into a parked 1967 Ford Galaxie) . Man I cried that night. Well, after parting it out and recouping the insurance money I soon replaced it with a beat up 1967 Mustang GT fastback from an old hippie in Kent. I got more than my fair share of mechanical experience on that one. Including when I finally converted it to a 427 side oiler engine. You ask.. how does this have anything to do with Subaru?  Don’t worry, I’ll eventually get there.

After high school, I opted not to go to college (due to the aversion to homework)  and went to work pumping gas at a local area gas station called “Innis Arden Mobil” in Richmond Beach. A stern, old school owner named Pat Farrow, put my nose to the grindstone like a drill sergeant and pretty much kicked my butt up one side and down the other to see if I was going to last. Once he saw I wouldn’t give up he began to allow me to do more than pump gas. I still remember him shouting, “FASTER… TIME IS MONEY” while I was hustling to clean out the inside windows and vacuum a car of some old woman that smoked like a chimney and had two long haired dogs that lived on the back seat. All this would usually occur on a 90 degree summer day. The amazing thing was that just when I thought I was doing the quickest, most professional job cleaning windows and vacuuming, he’d shout, “GET OUT OF MY WAY”. He would then take over and get it all done in about half the time and do a better job. I really hated his methods back then but it turns out that it was the best thing for me.

He proceeded to use the same method teaching me about working on cars. He taught me that anyone can work on cars but I needed to apply a high level of professionalism to anything I did if I was going to work on his customers cars. As owner of a small business, he also taught me the importance of the one on one personal  relationship with the customer. Out of all my mechanical training and business philosophy that I use today, most of it came from what I learned from Pat Farrow back in those memorable days at the gas station.

From there I tried a couple of other gas stations in attempt to advance my career but wasn’t making much forward progress. My parents encouraged me to sign up for the new automotive program at Shoreline Community College. It was the second year they offered the program and their goal was to help get you a job with a car dealership.

Part II to follow


1969 Subaru 360 of Smart Service

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Smart Service is an independent parts and service retailer and is not associated with Subaru, Fuji Heavy Industries, Subaru of America, Toyota Motor Sales or American Honda Motor Co.