A 1972 Corvette to celebrate Meineke’s 50th anniversary

May 17, 2022

At the 2022 Meineke Convention, Janet Cummings won the prize of a lifetime: a 1972 convertible Chevrolet Corvette – in bright Meineke yellow. The 50-year old classic car pays homage to Meineke’s 50th anniversary, which is being celebrated this year.

“We love it,” she says with a laugh. “My husband has washed it and waxed it, and it has its own place in the garage.”

It was a stroke of luck, as all raffles are. At the same time, there’s something fitting about her win: Her family is in its third generation with Meineke. Janet was recently elected president of the board of directors of the Meineke Dealers Association. And her mother was a pioneer in the business — the woman who opened the first franchised Meineke location in the country.

A Meineke success story

When Janet’s mother first approached Sam Meineke about purchasing a Meineke location, he had one question: “What would a woman do in a muffler shop?”

Her mother had a pretty good idea.

She persuaded him to let her buy what would become shop #6, the first franchised Meineke in the nation in Houston, Texas.

Janet’s mother wanted to grow from the very beginning. 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 recalls. “But it was very exciting.”

It was also challenging. In one transaction, the company grew from 10 locations to 18 – almost doubling their size overnight. At the same time, the car repair business was evolving and growing increasingly complex. Suddenly, there was a need for more skilled labor, more services and more equipment.

To accommodate those changes, Janet and her family adapted and shifted course, eventually selling locations to whittle the business back down to a more manageable size. In time, both her parents passed away. Her brother and sister retired. Now Janet, who was once the most reluctant to embark on an automotive career, is the matriarch of the family business.

“We are starting our third generation of family ownership now,” she says. “My son and daughter run our shop. They will eventually be brought into ownership, and it will, we hope, keep going.”

The next generation

Running a business is challenging, but her children have embraced it. And Janet makes sure to impart the valuable lessons she has learned over her decades in the business.

“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,” Janet says. “It’s true what they say: You absolutely have to spend money to make money.”

Her shop had some recovering to do in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, but just in the past few weeks, there has been cause for celebration.

“We broke our shop record the other week, and we’re fully staffed for the first time in a long time.  I feel like this is our year,” Janet says. “Once we have fully recovered from the pandemic and have one really good year under our belts, then we can say, ‘You guys have got this. We’re going to go travel or something.”

But Janet isn’t stepping aside yet. In addition to her work with the shop, she is serving in her new role as president of the board of directors of the Meineke Dealers Association – an achievement that would have made her mother proud.

When the time does come to hit the road and put her working life in the rearview, Janet and her husband will do it in bright yellow Meineke style.

Driven Brands, Inc. is committed to facilitating the accessibility and usability of content and features on its website, including this blog. While Driven Brands, Inc. has undertaken efforts to improve the accessibility of this blog, content is frequently posted and some content may be posted by third-parties, not Driven Brands, Inc., and so may not be accessible to certain users. If you have questions or concerns regarding the accessibility of this blog, please contact us via the contact section of our Accessibility Statement here.