Employee Spotlight – Tony, Body Shop Manager, Eau Claire, WI

Meet Eau Claire Body Shop Manager Tony (pictured far left with the Eau Claire Body Shop team). Tony is originally from Oklahoma and has been at Nuss for exactly one year.

How did you get into Body Shop work? I was always in the automotive section in one form or another. I started out as a technician working for Ford.  I got my Ford masters technician certification through them, and after that, I got a little bored wrenching on cars. So, I moved into sales and sold cars and then got into finance, which I really enjoyed. But then after that, I decided I wanted to get into the body side of things. I had a relative of mine down in Oklahoma working as a body tech and he said hey, they are looking for techs if you want to move down. So, we moved back down there. (I’m originally from Texas, by the way). We decided to move to Oklahoma and started as a tech there doing bodywork. From there we got into up-fitting for oil field work. That took off extremely well, and it got to the point where I was running that department. I managed contracts with all the big oil companies down there. From there I branched off to learn the ins and outs of body work and eventually took over the body shop as a manager with 27 techs under me where we averaged $.5 Million in sales a month. After that, we realized that with our parents getting older it might be best to spend more time with them while we still could, so we decided to move back home to be with them and let the kids be around their grandparents.

What inspired you to join the team here? So, when we moved up here, I took a parts manager job across the road with Allstate, they had recruited me. I met the previous body shop manager over there. He told me that they were looking for a body shop manager in Eau Claire. I gave it some thought and figured it would be a better fit than parts. This opportunity came along, and I applied, and the rest is history. What was attractive about working at Nuss was that it’s family-owned, they take care of their employees, it’s a great company, and I’m so glad that I’m here. There isn’t that corporate structure where numbers count more than the people who are bringing you the numbers. They are very employee focused and that’s a hard thing to find. Bob Nuss is probably the only owner of a big company that I’ve ever met who’s down to earth. I’m thankful to have been able to meet him, he impresses me a lot.

What would you say you love most about your job? I’d say probably the challenge of it. It can be challenging, you know, every job is different. I like how every day is different, it’s not the same monotony you run into. I like how there are clear goals and everybody seems to be on the same page as far as where we are going.

What challenges have you faced in your career? Probably getting on the same page with everybody and everybody’s personalities are different. Being from the South and then being up here, the personalities are different. So, one of my biggest challenges is getting used to the people up here and learning what makes them tick. Just different culture.

What do you think is the most important skill that someone in your profession should possess? Listening and empathy.

Tell me about your family. I met my wife in 8th grade. So, we are going on about 30 years, we have four kids ranging from 24 years old to 11 years old and two grandkids.

What do you like to do in your free time? Deer hunting. Enjoy having bonfires and having a few beers, just all the good stuff.

What would your perfect weekend look like? Honestly, just sitting on my deck, drinking a beer, listening to music with my family.

What is a dream you would want to make come true? Probably that all my kids become successful.

What is something that would we be surprised to learn about you? That I enjoy listening to classical music. Beethoven, operas, etc.

What are your career goals? I’d like to someday finish out high up in the company, and retire happily.

What would you say about working at Nuss? Maybe to somebody new? Forget everything you know about other companies. Because this one is truly different.

Is there anything else you would like to share? I’m not your typical manager. I am not a micro-manager. I trust my employees to do the right thing. My vision of doing something right isn’t correct, there are other ways of doing things.

Other managers need to understand that yes, there is a process for everything, but sometimes you’d be surprised. You’ve got to give your people a shot to prove their worth and to do what you hired them to do. If I hire a technician with 20 years of experience, I’m not going to tell that person what to do. Let them take the lead. Learn as much as you can from everybody. Knowledge is power. Learn all you can. I like to treat people the way I’d like to be treated.