SAN DIEGO — This appears to be a winning year for Janet Cummings and her Meineke Car Care franchise.
Not only is the family-run business recovering from the impacts of the pandemic, but the second-generation owner was named recently to head the Meineke Dealers Association and she won a 1972 Corvette.
Cummings won the drawing for the 1972 yellow convertible Chevrolet Corvette — a nod to Meineke's 50th anniversary — during the 2022 Meineke Convention in San Diego.
Cummings operates a franchise in Houston started by her mother, Jeanne Kennedy, who persuaded founder Sam Meineke in 1980 to let her buy what would become Shop #6 in Houston, the first franchised Meineke store in the nation, according to Driven Brands Inc., the franchisor of the Meineke Car Care business.
Kennedy wanted to grow from the very beginning, Meineke said. She brought her husband, a chiropractor at the time, into the business and started buying up Meineke shops one by one. Eventually, she brought all three of her children into the business, and together they grew to 18 locations across the state of Texas.
"This was back in the days when everything was simple – mufflers, tailpipes and exhaust, and eventually catalytic converters," Janet Cummings said. "But it was very exciting."
At the same time, the car-repair business was evolving and growing increasingly complex and the shops needed more skilled labor, more services and more equipment, she recalled.
To accommodate those changes, the Cummings family eventually sold some locations to whittle the business back down to a single store, the one they operate in Webster, Texas.
"We are starting our third generation of family ownership now," she said. "My son and daughter (Matt Cummings and Kelly Hord) run our shop. They will eventually be brought into ownership, and it will, we hope, keep going. ...
"One of the hardest lessons we had to learn as we transitioned from such a simple shop into a much more complicated one was that we have to stay abreast of all changes, whether it be technology to do the e-inspections or new equipment," Cummings said.
"It's true what they say: You absolutely have to spend money to make money."
The Meineke Dealers Association is an independent organization, open to Meineke franchise owners, whose purpose is to "actively pursue, in cooperation with the corporate office of Meineke Car Care Centers LLC., the betterment of the Meineke franchise system, for the benefit of our members and all concerned."