Electrified Garage: The Road Less Traveled
Aug. 11, 2020—The brands on Chad Hrencecin’s resume reads like a luxury car magazine. He began from humble roots as an independent mechanic working on small hydraulics throughout high school which turned into a job at Toyota. Right out of school at New England Institute of Technology he was recruited by BMW, where he stayed for 13 years until Chris Salvo dragged him to Tesla. During the pair's time at Tesla they hatched the idea for their next chapter—Electrified Garage.
Electrified Garage is an independent mechanic shop that can do everything from run-of-the-mill maintenance to niche repairs that few shops apart from Tesla can perform. Hrencecin, co-founder and service manager of Electrified Garage, says their shop is the culmination of everything they have learned from their time in the industry. To get to where he is now, Hrencecin says he had to learn many valuable lessons the hard way, but through rain, snow, or freezing ocean spray, he was determined to succeed.
Bumps in the Road
Hrencecin began his time at Tesla hopeful for a fresh start after putting in grueling hours with BMW.
“After 12 years, I thought ‘enough is enough,’” Hrencecin says. “I finally gave in and followed Chris to Tesla.”
At first, it was a dream job. He got to put his knowledge to use and worked closely with Tesla’s engineers. He got to talk to the people who wrote the software for Tesla’s touchscreens and even the person who engineered their door handles.
“I was talking to the people who were doing the building of the vehicles, and they actually wanted to hear my input,” he says.
But as time went on, he says Tesla turned into a typical car manufacturer. First, the engineering team started dying off and he didn’t get to talk with them as much as he used to. Then they really started pushing, he says. After a 12-hour work day he would hear, “You’re not doing enough,” from the revolving door of management. The new party line became: “You need to be more efficient and hammer out more cars.”
Hrencecin recalls one time in particular at an airport in Vermont when he was working on the charging port of a Model 3 Tesla.
“It was 18 degrees, in the middle of a snow storm, and there I was working on a high voltage part.”
Luckily, he completed the repair and made it out relatively unscathed, until he got another call.
He was instructed to head to the shoreline to do another repair where the weather conditions were even worse.
“The next guy, he didn’t even have a garage,” says Hrencecin. “Now I am in zero degree weather with ocean spray at my back and I can see the water freezing on the car as I am working on it.”
As the responsibilities started piling up in a thankless job, he decided to sit down with Chris and Rich Benoit to figure out their next steps.
“We just started talking and next thing you know, we had a whole plan for Electrified Garage,” he says.
Calm After the Storm
Contrary to what the film industry would have you believe, businesses are not built overnight. Hrencecin would work during the day for Tesla and then at night he stayed busy doing accessory installations on Tesla vehicles. What started as “hobby work” soon turned into a viable business.
“I was doing small accessory items like installing dash cams and next thing you know, we’re booked every night,” he says.
Slowly they developed a customer base because of his extensive knowledge on hybrid vehicles and that coupled with their stellar customer service put them ahead of Tesla Inc.
“The culture here is so much better,” he says of Electrified Garage. “When people come here, they’re in a good mindset. They’re actually happy because they haven’t been on hold for days.”
Electrified Garage places value on vehicle owners, rather than the vehicles themselves. Hrencecin says they are still burning the midnight oil at their shop, but he doesn’t mind putting in the extra hours anymore.
“We are working to make our customers happy and when they tell you they appreciate you—it’s a good feeling.”
Now, Electrified Garage is trying to hire and train more technicians. Hrencecin is not only the service manager, but the lead technician and responsible for almost all repairs done at the shop.
“If it’s a quick and easy job, I can usually get through five or six cars a day, but if it’s a lengthy repair I can do about one or two a day,” he says.
Electrified Garage celebrated its first birthday last month and they plan to open two more locations before the end of the year.
When asked what it would take for Hrencecin to return to Tesla, he chuckled for a moment before saying, “I keep hearing from customers that no one is communicating at Tesla, I guess that’s why we’re so busy.”