Mustang Lube and the Ballad of Bernie Sachs
Bernie Sachs wears many hats. Sachs resume includes, lube shop operator, teacher, superintendent artist, avid golfer, father and grandfather. At 76 years old, Sachs still doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up. Sachs worked in education for 37 years but he always loved working on cars. Today, he’s found a way to combine his passion for art, cars and the game of golf in a rather unconventional way.
“I am a detail nut. I love antique cars and I’ve always kept my cars in pristine shape,” Sachs said.
When Sachs retired from education after serving as a teacher and administrator, he wasn’t looking to be in the oil change business.
“It was the furthest thing from my mind,” Sachs said.
The year was 1999 when Sachs brought buying a lube shop up to his wife, Loraine. Loraine wasn't exactly thrilled with the idea but their four children thought it was a cool concept and when the Sachs' youngest daughter, Jody, offered to come home and help her dad get started, Loraine had no other choice but to jump onboard.
The little shop located in Marble Falls, Texas was christened, "Mustang Lube" in honor of the local high school's mascot.
In his usual zany fashion, Mustang Lube soon became Mustang Lube & Country Club after Sachs installed a putting green. Sachs had brought his clubs work one day to clean them when things got slow.
“We took turns taking pitch shots in the vacant lot next to the shop, seeing who could hit the ball, get closest to the fire hydrant and hit it back to the telephone poll,” Sachs said.
One of the technicians came up with the idea of installing a putting green.
“Three days later, I had dump trucks full of material and the local greens keeper on the phone, asking him how to build a putting green. The rest is history. That’s how Mustang Lube & Country Club became a reality,” Sachs said.
Since opening the original Mustang Lube, Sachs opened another location in Kingsland, Texas. Not to worry, the customers at this shop aren’t missing out on the “Bernie Sachs Experience” by visiting this location and not the other. This shop has its own original flair too, an art gallery. Sachs is talented watercolor artist who has painted landscapes, flora, fauna and many other masterpieces for more than 50 years. You can check out his work for yourself at: www.berniesachsart.com Before opening his lube shops, Sachs owned and operated a custom frame shop but due to unforeseen circumstances he had to shut down the frame shop. Having nowhere else to display his artwork, Sachs decided to bring it to the Kingsland Mustang Lube making us wonder if he should change the name of that location too. Picture it, “Mustang Lube & Art Gallery,” seems appropriate if you ask us.
Sachs describes the relationship between art and cars by saying he’s not the only artist in the shop he’s just the only one who works with traditional art supplies.
“I tell my guys they’re artists in their own right. Every task can be done in a matter that speaks to excellence,” Sachs said.
Sachs goes the extra mile to help out his customers and friends.
“If a battery is dead in someone’s garage we’re going to be there to take care of them. If something happens they don’t understand, we’re there to help them. It’s a matter of being of service,” Sachs said. “We want raving fans, not just happy customers.”
Like any profession, it’s important to love what you’re doing and have fun with it. For Sachs, that’s exactly why he got in this business in the first place, because he didn’t just love cars, he was crazy about them.
“You have to like cars. In fact, I think you have to have a love affair with cars. You have to enjoy working on them. That’s always been one of my joys,” Sachs said. “It goes back to my college days. I worked my way through college by parking cars in Hollywood, of all places. I got to drive every conceivable car on the road at the time. This was in the ’50s. The first car I owned was a 1957 Oldsmobile. It’s still my all-time favorite car. The second thing you have to love is people. If you want to work in this business, you have to love people. You have to enjoy people and enjoy serving people.”
Like many operators in the industry, one of the biggest problems Sachs faces is the daunting obstacle of finding good, quality employees.
“Any long-term manager will tell you the challenge is to find a crew with excellent character and a spirit of teamwork and camaraderie,” Sachs said. “They treat the shop as if it were their own. They take pride in keeping the shop looking pristine and take pride in their work. You have to be willing to pay a good salary to keep employees like that, even to find employees like that. I have some here who are top notch and they care for the business as much as I do.”
Sachs has a sign in front of one of the stores that is sure to catch the eyes of passersby but it has more utility than just drawing customers into the bays.
“It gets a lot of public attention,” Sachs said. “The sign says, Bernie’s Mustang Lube and is in the shape of a giant diamond. People ask me, ‘Are you a pawn shop or a lube shop?’ To those people I say, ‘You don’t know what it means.’ The sign is primarily for my employees. It’s to remind them good service isn’t good enough. It has to be dazzlingly, good service. Customers deserve and expect that. People don’t talk about good service. They talk about dazzlingly, good service. If people care about their car the way I care about mine, they want to take it where it’s going to get tender love and care. What better epitomizes true love than diamonds? If customers can’t remember that, they can remember we’re a gem of a lube shop.”
A gem of a lube shop indeed, Sachs has definitely carved out his own unique niche in this industry and it’s served him well. Perhaps you’re a car enthusiast, art admirer, fan of hitting the fairway or just a believer in good, old-fashioned service with a smile. In any case, Bernie’s Mustang Lube, and Bernie himself, have you covered.