For an auto repair shop in Chehalis that specializes in luxury vehicles, it’s not easy finding new hires. And when technicians must be able to work on everything from a 1920s Rolls-Royce to a 2019 Porsche, there’s no substitute for hands-on learning.
That’s why Maximilian Motorsports decided to bring the learning to them and fund an apprenticeship program that culminates in a state-accredited master’s degree in automotives. The apprenticeship includes three aspects: an instructor, hands-on and in-shop learning and online courses through Electude.com.
Before the apprenticeship, Maximilian Macdonald, owner and chief executive officer, had to spend his time teaching technicians everything he knew, which wasn’t the best option for himself or the technicians. Sometimes, as he says, you can be the best player but the worst coach. And though it is a significant economic investment for Maximilian Motorsports, Macdonald sees the apprenticeship as a way to improve his industry, along with the world around him.
There are currently 18 people in this particular apprenticeship program in Washington, and three of them are members of Macdonald’s team.
“In anything, if you’re not going to make it better, then don’t complain,” Macdonald said. “We can always improve our world … Like a farmer, you have to seed, nurture and harvest. You can’t just harvest.”
Macdonald recognizes better than most that the automotive industry doesn’t have the best reputation.
“(It’s) beset with a black eye of lack of integrity,” he said.
So, every piece of Maximilian Motorsports aims to undo that stereotype. All the systems they use can be accessed from anywhere in the world, allowing customers to check on the status of their vehicles’ repairs remotely. Pictures accompany updates. Macdonald says that some shops post generic photos for each problem, rather than using real pictures of the customer’s vehicle, which he believes is entirely dishonest.
When a customer can see the repair process in real-time, Macdonald says the benefits are two-fold.
“You can easily say, ‘hey, can you take care of this?’... and that makes it easier for us,” he said. “It’s not as invasive, because I think a lot of times if people think it’s a bother, they just say ‘ah well, I’ll just pick it up.’”
Deeply entwined with Maximilian Motorsports’ business model of transparency is their investment in initiatives to improve the world outside the shop. Macdonald doesn’t consider himself to be politically polarized and states that it doesn’t take an environmentalist to see that upcycling saves money. Part of the apprenticeship program includes investment in electric cars, allowing the technicians to master another element of automotives.
The shop, which was built by Macdonald himself, has all sorts of scrap metal pieces artfully reused to create the modern look it has today. One-hundred percent of the waste oil from vehicles is used in the heating of the facility. Truly everything about Maximilian Motorsports is a work of sustainable art. Of the halves of cars beautifully displayed on the walls, Macdonald casually states, “I’ve been blessed. I’ve had art installations at galleries and so forth and I’ve had some stuff on display at museums, even though I don’t fancy myself an artist.”
Clearly, he is one.
The art, history and technology of racing, in fact, all played a role in Macdonald’s passion for the automotive industry early in life.
As a child, Macdonald lost his father to lung cancer. During hospital visits, 11-year-old Maximilian found comfort by playing with his matchbox car. By high school, he was racing 1962 Porches.
Still a teenager, Macdonald competed in a 10,000-mile race all over the U.S. to raise money for Mothers Against Drunk Driving. At 19, Macdonald worked at Seattle Ferrari. Despite working with just about every possible type of luxury vehicle, he believes every car to be as unique as its owner.
“Every car has a backstory,” Macdonald said, “you feel like a caretaker of history.”
For more information, go to maximilianmotorsports.com.