Bryan Weber became fascinated with engine mechanics at a young age. His father, Dave, owned a custom racing engine business called Weber Racing Equipment, in North Olmsted, Ohio. By age 14, Bryan started working for his dad, getting his hands dirty with machine and engine work.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree in automotive management in 1994, he followed in his father’s footsteps and opened a shop of his own—Weber Automotive—the next year. Yet, the engine and racing worlds stayed top of mind for Bryan, so much so that he finally made his way to the driver’s seat in the late ’90s.
“I had this 2,000-lb. dragster that went over 255 mph,” he recalls about competing in Top Alcohol Dragster racing events on the weekends with his pit crew—his dad, brother and a longtime friend. “The next step up for us would have been to go professional.”
Although Bryan hung up his racing helmet when he became a father in 2003, his main focus remained the custom engine business, which he purchased from his father that year. But, in 2008, when the Great Recession hit the industry, Bryan’s focus gradually shifted.
“Unlike the engine industry, auto repair during the recession boomed,” he recalls. “I pulled back and realized my profit margins in the repair business were way better. And all my headaches from my businesses were in the engine business—not the repair business.”
Two years later, he doubled down his repair business, which has morphed into an independent tire dealership. Although he has scaled the custom engine business back, he remains focused on the high ethics-based approach to business he learned from his father: delivering the highest standards of excellence in automotive repair, extraordinary service to customers and opportunities for team members to grow—all while evolving with the industry and customers to be on the cutting edge.
With Bryan at the wheel, the team at Weber Automotive is motivated to constantly improve. In fact, three years ago, Weber Automotive outgrew its four-bay garage and moved to a 5,000-sq.-ft., eight-bay location on one of the busiest streets in northeast Ohio.
With a 4.8-star rating on Google, the shop’s customer service starts with each customer being greeted with a smile, as the team performs a digital inspection on their vehicle. Then, the inspection is thoroughly reviewed with the customer, along with suggested services. When the customer picks up their vehicle, it is freshly washed and ready to go. A week later, the customer receives a call to be sure their vehicle is working properly. New customers get a handwritten thank you note in the mail.
Paying attention to these details hasn’t come without the proper training, admits Bryan. Weber Automotive is a part of the Top Shop 360 program with Elite Worldwide, an auto repair industry training, coaching and consulting company. His team—four of whom are ASE Master Techs—also gain expertise through in-person and online NAPA AutoCare classes, as well as classes offered by Car Parts Warehouse. This helps fulfill the 40 hours of continuing education Bryan requires of each technician.
As the automotive industry evolves, Weber Automotive intends to grow with it, with plans to break ground on an 8,600-sq.-ft. building on the same property as its shop. Bryan plans for it to be up and running by summer 2021 to allow the business to offer more products and services, such as shorter wait times for tire installation and a climate-controlled garage where customers can park their collector cars for the winter and receive routine maintenance throughout the year.
With an eye on the future, Bryan excitedly talks about the jobs his shop could be tasked with, including the thrilling engine-conversion projects he sees coming down the line.
“Electrification of those going forward will be significant,” Bryan says. “Taking out the gas engine and putting in an electric motor and batteries—that’s one of the things I’m sure we’ll be doing in the future.”