Small-business excellence seems to be an innate part of Eric Pohlman’s upbringing.
The 54-year-old Hamilton man and owner of Eric’s Auto Service is the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce’s choice for Small Business Person of the Year, an honor previously awarded to Pohlman’s brother, Jeff, as well as to their father, James.
Pohlman said lessons in running a business started well before he launched Eric’s Auto Service at 1047 Millville Ave.
“We were always taught to take care of our customers,” said Pohlman, who started mechanic work at his father’s first business — J&J Tire Company — as a teen. “It was always personal service through all of us. That’s what my dad taught us. You take care of the customers and they’ll take care of you.”
He later worked at his father’s second business, Jim’s Tire & Auto Service, before opening Eric’s Auto Service in November 1996.
The shop started out with one employee in a 3-bay shop and has enjoyed steady growth since, expanding to a 6-bay shop in 2002, then purchasing an adjacent property in 2007 to excavate and add parking, Pohlman said. It’s now an eight-employee operation with average increase of growth around 10 percent a year, most of it through word-of-mouth referrals.
Pohlman also has filled in as guest host on 55 KRC’s “Car Show” since 2011.
He said part of the mission statement of Eric’s Auto Service is remaining committed to keeping up to date with the latest technology and service requirements so customers can feel safe and secure in their vehicles.
Tom Donges, of Hamilton, said Pohlman’s business has exemplified exactly that, offering “a personal touch,” as well.
“They value our customers every day and never forget that their customers are the sole reason for Eric’s Auto Service success,” Donges said.
Eric’s Auto Service has been a significant part of the Hamilton Small business community with a great reputation and many return customers, according to Scott Ellsworth, interim president for the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce.
“None of that is possible in a small business without incredible leadership at the helm, and Eric Pohlman is that leader,” Ellsworth told the Journal-News. “Eric is committed to our community and this honor gives us a chance to thank him for his contribution both as a businessman and as a person.
“Small business is the backbone of our economy, and having strong businesses in Hamilton is critical to our continued success as a city. Eric’s Auto Service is just such a business.”
Pohlman said he was shocked to learn of the award last week and never expected such recognition. He credited the shop’s loyal customers, because “without them I would never get the award.”
He also credited how he was raised by his parents, along with his shop’s ability to successfully create and rigorously follow standard operating procedures to ensure each customer receives the same level of service.
Continued success also is a result of general manager Chris Farthing and service advisor Matt Purcell, “two great guys” who “are basically the ones who run the business,” as well as crew members who work in the garage, Pohlman said.
“They’re hands down some of the best techs around,” he said. “They’re great guys.”
For more information, call 513-867-0770 or visit www.ericsauto.com.