Car Care and Community Care At Its Finest

Posted by on May 21, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

“I love life. And I love my job. So my job never feels like work!” –Mike Phillips

Owner of Men At Work Car Care Center Mike Phillips’s start-up story, like most, is full of ups and downs. He was born in Philadelphia but moved here in 1979 to attend St. Augustine’s University here in Raleigh. He first learned how to detail cars with a Ford dealership after college. He took the knowledge he gained from this first job, and felt confident that he could enter the detailing business on his own.

“Learn something. Wherever you go. Whatever you do. And take it with you.”

Mike and some of the guys flexing their muscles outside of the shop

Mike and some of the guys flexing their muscles outside of the shop

That’s exactly what he did. He opened Men At Work Car Care Center in November of 1988. Business was good – which comes as no surprise to me. While sitting with Mike for our interview I witnessed worn down folks walk in and instantly light up when they hear Mike’s booming voice. I saw him encourage his team of men detailing the cars – reminding them frequently that, “We’re big on ‘Thank Yous’ around here!” And most importantly, I saw filthy cars transform to factory fresh in less than 30 minutes.

Throughout his journey, however, Mike struggled with drug use and dealing. It took a combination of bad economic times, seeing his family hurt because of his choices, and being arrested to realize that something had to change.

“Some people get no grace. They lose it all before they get it together. For me, it didn’t take that.”

Mike finally was able to close that chapter of his book. As a result of the legal trouble he got in, he gained a unique perspective on employment after serving time.

“No one wants to give you an opportunity. The first thing they ask you is if you have ever committed a crime.”

Because of this hardship that former criminals face,  Mike makes it a priority to hire men who have recently served time in an effort to help them rebuild their resumes and lives.  Currently 95% of his staff have been convicted of a crime and paid their debt to society through prison time.

When I asked Mike what he would want a potential new customer to know about Men At Work, he had this to say:

“Come here once and you won’t go nowhere else. You come here and you know I’m giving back. I’m showing love. “

I have been to car care centers all over eastern North Carolina – mainly because I am too preoccupied (lazy) to clean my own car. I can tell you after several washes from Mike and his guys at Men At Work, I will never go anywhere else. They truly do a phenomenal job.

Raleigh, give yourself a weekend off of car-washing duty. A standard wash is around $20.00 depending on the size of your vehicle (plus tip). You will leave with a satisfactory detail job, a smile on your face, and a team of really awesome men yelling, “THANK YOU!” as you drive away.

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