Introducing: Callahan Auto & Diesel
Chatting with Preston Callahan in his compact, cluttered, comfy office at Callahan Auto & Diesel, you get the idea that he can find everything he needs, right when he needs it. And after eight years of running his namesake car repair shop at 255 W Main Street, there’s one thing he knows for sure: “We’re BUSY!”
After moving from his second location at Country Club & Southern (more later on his first location), Preston quickly figured out that by expanding his workspace, he could add a mobile service. You swing into a mechanic’s shop, you’re focused on your car and your car only. What you may not notice beyond your own brake job is that Callahan’s has four trucks on standby for 24-hour service throughout the state, with six trucks total. Callahan’s works closely with the US Forest Service, to ensure their firetrucks stay in top shape. A former USFS firefighter himself, Preston says, “We consider ourselves just as much first responders as firefighters because we take care of their vehicles, so they get to and from fires safely.” And just like other first responders, the team at Callahan’s often performs rescues – repairing or safely removing stranded vehicles from the side of a road.
Preston created his business in his parents’ driveway in 2008. Two years later, on his 23rd birthday, he moved to the Country Club location. “I was an Eagle Scout,” he says, laughing. “That taught me to not be lazy and gave me my drive to succeed.” He’s still keeping it all in the family, though – his dad Mitch has worked for Callahan’s for six years and is an integral part of the shop’s success. Great customer service is of utmost importance to the business. “That’s my dad up there,” he says, gesturing to the front desk. “I’d rather have someone I trust there at the desk with my customers than a salesman.”
The move to Main Street in 2015 expanded his workspace, adding the benefits of walk-in traffic and proximity to downtown activities. Attending off-site events is another secret of Callahan’s success. “It’s never a good day when you have to call a mechanic,” Preston explains. “So, by doing events like car shows and going into the community, we can build relationships before they need our services. We try to meet people on a good day, not a bad day.”
At some of those events – car shows, beer festivals – you’ll find Preston and a good friend from high school, showing off a replica of the easily recognizable truck from the movie “Ghostbusters.” (The converted 1955 Cadillac hearse, dubbed “Spooky,” comes from AZMovieProps.com.) “My friend has a bunch of movie cars - we take that one to car shows all the time,” he says. “People love that truck! It’s good business for my friend and people get to know Callahan’s too – who they gonna call?”
Preston’s mission is to get out to the public, make connections and educate people on how to keep their cars longer. “Cars are getting older, hanging on longer. You save money by repairing vs replacing a vehicle,” Preston says. “That’s my most favorite part of the job – helping people and fixing something most people don’t know anything about.”
As Callahan’s grows, Preston is not only hiring for four positions (to add to his 11-employee staff), but also looking for an additional location for a dispatch/call center for more service trucks to enhance his 24-hour service. “I’m like a 911 dispatcher for mechanics, taking about 15 calls a day.”
When he’s not working his customary 80 hours per week, what does he like to do for fun? This married father of a 5-year-old boy stays active by camping and off-roading - anything away from the shop.
But he’s committed to staying in Downtown Mesa for as long as he can. “There’s great collaboration here – I recommend downtown restaurants to our customers all the time. I like how we’re keeping it small and local with an artistic atmosphere. Here, everyone’s heart is in the same spot.”
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