Voorheesville auto repair shop welcomes new owner, looks to the future

— From Carl’s Advanced Automotive & Truck Repair Center 

Victoria Carl, pictured, and her mother, Katy, purchased Advanced Auto Repair Service from Kerby Zimmerman, left, and Timm Baldauf, this year.

VOORHEESVILLE — At 21, Victoria Carl owns an auto-repair shop. She’s had a passion for cars since she was a kid and didn’t let gender stereotypes stand in her way.

“It is definitely a very proud moment — for sure,” Katy Carl said of seeing her 21-year-old daughter as a shop-owner. “She’s very independent and very goal-oriented, I guess is a good way to put it.”

The opportunity presented itself and Victoria just “jumped all over it,” her mother said.

Katy and Victoria Carl officially became co-owners of what was known for 38 years as Advanced Auto Repair Service on April 6, and rechristened it Carl’s Advanced Automotive & Truck Repair Center.

Katy Carl had worked at the shop on Drywall Lane since January, her mother said, and has had a lifelong affinity for anything with a motor.

“Victoria grew up with a passion for automobiles owing to her family’s history in the auto business … It was a second home to Victoria ... Her great-grandfather Dewitt Carl started the New Salem Saab dealership in 1961, and seven years later his son Frederick bought the business,” according to a history of Advanced Auto Repair Service and the Carls put together by customer Ray Hand. 

  “Andy Carl [her father] guided Victoria’s interest, and by the age of ten she was racing go-karts. In high school, she began studying diesel technology, and her academic successes led to scholarships and further education at the University of Northwestern Ohio,” Hand wrote. “Upon graduation, with dual associate degrees in diesel technologies and agricultural diesel technologies, she returned home to Voorheesville and joined the staff of Albany Truck Sales.”

Katy Carl said Victoria was in the 10th grade when she came home one day after school and told her that she wanted to be a diesel mechanic, and that she wanted to enroll in the Capital Region BOCES program for her junior year.

“Which is a phenomenal organization,” she said of the Capital Region Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

“But she said, ‘I’m gonna go be a diesel mechanic.’ And I was like, ‘No you're not; that’s what guys do.’ And she just had a passion for it; she wanted to learn more about it; she wanted to explore it,” Katy Carl said. 

Katy Carl said she had many conversations with her daughter about being a young female entering into a male-dominated trade — the challenges and experiences that she would have. “I believe she understood it,” Katy Carl said. “I believe she embraced [it].” 

But Katy Carl added about her daughter, “I think she feels like she has a little bit more desire to prove herself, if that makes any sense. So she trained harder, and she studied harder and got better.”

Victoria got used to being just one of a few women in a class of all men, her mother said; Victoria is also a volunteer firefighter, she pointed out.

The purchase of Advanced Auto Repair Service by the Carls from Timm Baldauf and Kerby Zimmerman was a sort of punchline to a long-running joke. 

Evan Carl, Victoria’s younger brother, used to work in the shop, sweeping the floors, his mother said; he was too young to be a technician. 

Zimmerman would joke with Evan, “You got to learn how to do this, and you got to make sure you do it right. Someday, you and your sister are going to own this place,” Katy Carl said.

Evan was 16 or 17 years old at the time, she said, and came home and mentioned to his parents what Zimmerman had said, who also laughed it off. 

Andrew Carl has been in the automotive business for years and knew the shop to be very reputable with a great client base.

Zimmerman mentioned in passing to Andrew Carl that, once Victoria graduated, she should come work at the shop. Zimmerman and Baldauf “were getting ready to retire and they were looking for a succession plan,” Katy Carl said.

Victoria knew it was something she wanted to do someday, own her own shop, her mother said, but she didn’ t realize it would come this quickly. 

Currently, Victoria Carl is on the front desk, running the business side of the garage, Katy Carl said. It was decided that Victoria needed to learn how to run the business and how to work with customers before she can get back into the garage, Katy Carl said, “which in her mind, she’s thinking just a year or two.” 

The shop currently doesn’t do a tremendous amount of diesel work, but that is certainly part of the future growth plan, where the previous focus was on cars, Katy Carl said. The Carls added trucks to the shop’s name because of their desire to grow into the diesel market as the business gets bigger. 

 The clientele the shop has built over the past 38 years has been pretty substantial, Katy Carl said. Throughout the pandemic, while business had slowed down, “it stayed fairly steady,” and no one had to be laid off, she said. 

Previously, the garage had two-full time mechanics plus Kerby Zimmerman,  the shop’s former owner who has also agreed to stay on as foreman for a couple of more years, Katy Carl said, so there’s room to grow by putting on another technician — which could add another 20 to 30 percent to the normal business, plus eventually expanding into the diesel market.

Victoria Carl hasn’t had much of a chance to do diesel work because of her current position, her mother said, so it’s done mostly on nights and weekends. 

Which appears to be a Carl family trait.

Both Katy and Andy Carl have full-time jobs but also work at the shop.

Asked how many hours a week each family member works, Katy Carl said, “We try not to keep track to be completely honest, because it’s just a number.”

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