Vicente Silva bought a renowned repair shop and immediately increased revenue
The one thing MWACA Magazine did not expect was tears from Vicente Silva.
Silva is the new owner of New Concept Auto Service, a highly specialized shop in Overland Park, Kansas. The former owner, Paul Rupp, passed away from cancer in the spring, but not before he sold the shop to Silva in October 2019. Rupp was something of a local legend, known for his methodical approach to repair, his love of restoration and his generosity, kindness, and strength.
“We made a great team,” he says, smiling through a moment of sorrow. “We saw many aspects of ownership and repair eye to eye. Our expectations of employees and quality of work were very similar. We’d always laugh together about all that—he connected me with so many people who became great friends and colleagues. He’d text me every day, 4:15, 4:30 in the morning, ‘Good morning Vicente,’ and rain or sun, he’d say, ‘It’s a good rainy day,” or “it’s a good sunny day.’ ”
No matter the weather, Silva still gets a kick out of repairing cars, though he’d rather be focusing on the business. Silva says fixing vehicles brings him back to his childhood when he’d tear apart anything he could get his hands on. As many owners come to realize, however, ownership is far from a game—it’s an arena in which limitless ambition is pitted against profitability, vision for the shop squares off against ARO and the final figures in the ledgerbook, and the crux of contemporary auto repair is in the hands of a mostly young, inexperienced generation of new technicians and advisors.
NEW OWNER, SAME LEGACY
“I’m not the smartest person in the world, though my certifications say something else,” Silva muses.
Others may disagree; New Concept Auto Service does a whopping $7.3 million in annual revenue, and Silva expects that number to grow. But as successful as New Concept is, Silva knows every day needs to be met with vigilance, honesty and integrity. It’s not as if there are talented technicians just strolling into the office every day.
“The older generation is tired, their bodies are wearing down, and the technician shortage is looming,” he says. “We demand experience without passing on the knowledge and skills. When you teach someone, what goes around comes around. You bless someone and it’ll come back to you. As owners, we need to change our mentality; if we don’t, it will all go down.”
That sort of mentorship is exactly what Silva needed in order to take the reins at New Concept. During his brief time with Rupp, mentorship—as well as friendship—is all Rupp gave to him. Rupp left Silva a complete owner’s manual for every aspect of the shop, and dogged Silva day and night about all the aspects of ownership you can’t learn from a book. He connected him with a 20 Group and advised him on a coach.
“I know how to make money,” Silva told the Rupps before accepting his offer to buy the shop, “and I can make the numbers; what I can’t do is force myself upon the process. I need a friend and a mentor.” Queue another round of tears.
THE FUTURE IS TECH
Since taking over, Silva has challenged his staff to do more, more, more. Before selling, Rupp had a number he wanted to meet, and Silva tripled it. Much has changed in a short time. Since taking over and despite the pandemic, Silva is on track to 50 percent growth rate by year’s end. He hasn’t had to close a single day nor lay anyone off. In fact, he refused to take his own paycheck so his employees and business could endure.
“The way I see it, I’m responsible for my employees and their families, and they deserve the opportunity to work. I’ve even added to the staff since the pandemic started. Leaders build leaders—I truly believe that.”
Responsibility is not without risk—Silva’s investments in the shop’s new front office, new tools and technology and eventually the greatest risk of all— new employees!—is a bet against the status quo that says things will change; things are changing. And we will be ready.
Growth is more about tangible shop additions, however. In his own words, Silva would rather shine light on others, and knows you can only grow if you’re willing to teach, pass it on, listen and adapt. Since taking over, he’s expanded the shop floor from 2,000 to 4,000 square feet. He installed a state-of-the-art tire machine for balance and alignment. He invested in top-tier ADAS technology from AUTEL to be able to service that segment of the market.
Today, New Concept is so advanced dealerships send cars they can’t fix. “Anything they can do, we can do,” Silva says. According to BMW North American and Audi North America, New Concept is the only shop in the Kansas City area that can go toe-to-toe on diagnostic capabilities.
“I’ll be able to do much more than the average shop, including Teslas and Euros,” he says. He contacted the only Tesla-approved collision center nearby and they’ve partnered on ADAS repair business. He even bought a key machine to make high-end keys and key fobs, and recently purchased an old USPS truck to offer mobile diagnostic services to capture more business for the shop.
“Diversification and staying on top of technology is key,” he says.
Silva believes flat rate is going to die in the next few years, especially as more independent shops see hybrid and electric vehicles come to the forefront. He says you can’t rush those vehicles—not when you have someone’s life in your hands.
“If a shop doesn’t have these capabilities, good luck making money. It’s hard to change—even Paul didn’t want to change. He knew and wanted carburetors, not computers. The truth is we’re going to see more and more tech, and if you’re at the forefront of this, you’ll be set.”
And though Paul is gone, his spirit lives on—literally. Silva gets remote updates on his phone from the shop’s security system. The night Rupp passed, the room in which his toolbox sat for decades kept triggering the alarm.
“I knew it was Paul,” Silva says, “and my phone kept pinging as if motion detected, motion detected. My phone was blowing up so much my wife was mad!” he laughs.
“It’s comforting to know he’s still with us, watching over the shop,” Silva says.
NEW CONCEPT AUTO SERVICE
OVERLAND PARK, KANS.
6,000 SQUARE FEET
AVERAGE MONTHLY CAR COUNT
AVERAGE TIME SOLD
Hi-Tech and High Volume
Since transitioning to a new role as owner of New Concept Auto Service, Vicente Silva (bottom right) has primarily focused on one thing: premium technological service and care. Here, Silva reads pre-repair vehicle data from the OBDII sensor to help determine how to repair the vehicle.
Protect Your People to Grow Your Business
In the early days of the pandemic, Silva didn’t take a paycheck so his employees and business could thrive.
Success Isn’t Accidental
Silva believes diversification and taking risks is key to growth.