Putting Talent to Use

May 1, 2024
After owning his own transmission repair business, Armond Dowdell found the next step of his career with Grease Monkey as a district manager.

When an individual possessing industry knowledge and leadership skills is combined with a company that recognizes and promotes talent, success is sure to follow. Armond Dowdell, who came out of high school with multiple ASE certifications and a passion for business, found such a path when the company he was with was acquired by FullSpeed Automotive, leading him to being Grease Monkey’s current district manager for the northwestern quarter of Metro Atlanta. 

Dowdell shared with NOLN the story of how he found his place in the quick lube industry and the work he is doing to help others follow in his footsteps. 

An Unrelenting Ambition 

Dowdell has lived in the Atlanta, Georgia, area for most of his life. Having a grandfather who owned an automotive shop, he had an interest in auto work from an early age, and soon realized how useful auto skills would be in everyday life.  

After getting his learner’s permit and going out of town to pick up his first car, Dowdell’s vehicle quit on him on the way home: it needed a new starter. Not knowing what to do, he took it to a nearby service center, and was shocked to see it was something he could be doing himself. 

“They charged me $600 for something that was sitting right in my face, and it took them less than 30 minutes,” remembers Dowdell. “And I said, ‘This will never happen to me again.’” 

Indeed, during his high school years, he would join an automotive program that provided him with ASE certifications in four different areas by the time he graduated. Though he sought out further training at a technical school, after two semesters they told him he had already fulfilled what he needed by acquiring ASE certifications during high school. But Dowdell wasn’t ready to slow down. He set his sights on learning about something else he was interested in: business. 

After attending a four-year university to study the subject, Dowdell wanted to pursue the entrepreneurial route and start his own business. Upon graduating, he went out and opened his own transmission repair shop, which he ran for a couple of years out of a leased building. When the building’s owner sold the facility, Dowdell put the company on the backburner until he could find a new location. 

Many of the people working with Dowdell at his transmission repair business had gone to work for a quick lube company, which caught his attention. He first came on with the company part-time, intending to return to his transmission repair shop; but the longer he stayed, the more opportunities for growth he saw for himself there.  

Before long, that company was acquired by FullSpeed Automotive, launching Dowdell into the Grease Monkey brand. 

Tools for Teamwork 

Now, as Grease Monkey’s district manager for the northwestern quarter of Metro Atlanta, Dowdell oversees nine stores in the Marietta, Georgia area, working closely with them on training staff and ensuring they have what they need to thrive. 

The primary focus of Dowdell’s job is to drive sales, grow the business, and increase a store’s car count year over year. The best way to achieve that goal is by providing customers with the best possible experience, which is why it’s essential for Dowdell to stay in touch with all the teams he oversees. He does this by having one-on-one virtual training sessions and regularly communicating with store managers on their KPIs and goals. 

“I preach customer service, customer experience: that's the fastest and easiest way to grow your company,” tells Dowdell. “If you serve the customer and they’re satisfied, they're gonna leave you a good positive review, and they're going to refer people to you.” 

While some employees may be more outgoing and capable of handling customer service, some are more focused on performing mechanical tasks and fixing machines. Getting in the middle of the store’s daily activities and seeing how everyone works allows him to direct people to positions that best fit their personal strengths. 

By cultivating a close relationship with his teams, Dowdell can identify their strengths and weaknesses and devise a strategy that best compliments them. 

“I try to create a total experience around that flow systemfrom the time they pull up to the time they leaveby making sure we’re having the right people in the right places and making sure that they are trained up according to our standards.” 

Helping Others Up the Ladder 

First impressions matternot just for a customer, but for a new employee. Dowdell puts a lot of effort into providing fresh staff members with comprehensive, quality training that trains them to confidently perform the jobs they need to.  

He teaches in increments, spending four to six weeks working with employees on a specific process, ensuring they have mastered it before moving on. Through Dowdell’s training methods, he has helped several lube technicians throughout the Atlanta market get promoted to store managers. 

Dowdell works with his staff to develop a process designed to work for them. As part of this, he welcomes criticism and comments from his teams, believing that doing so is crucial to helping them thrive. 

“I welcome any feedback, because what works for me may not work for them, and I don't want to force it on them,” says Dowdell. 

While Dowdell held much training in automotive work entering this field, his education in business and prior experience as a manager also equipped him for what he does now. Understanding his employees and knowing how to lead a team of people are crucial skills that Dowdell had the chance to cultivate prior to joining FullSpeed. 

For anyone looking to jumpstart their own automotive career, Dowdell encourages them to immerse themselves in the industryseek out someone to job shadow, become an apprentice, or look into the wide range of opportunities FullSpeed and its Grease Monkey brand currently offer for entry-level workers, even those that have no previous experience. 

“I've grown throughout the company, and I'm continuing to grow,” tells Dowdell. “A lot of people that have came in and have been successful, they have grown and have gotten promoted within the ranks of the company. They value meritocracy with this company.” 

 

About the Author

Kacey Frederick | Assistant Editor

Kacey Frederick joined as the assistant editor of National Oil and Lube News in 2023 after graduating from the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith with a bachelor’s in English and a minor in philosophy. As the grandchild of a former motorcycle repair shop owner, he’s undergone a series of trials and tribulations with vehicles. Now the proud owner of a reliable 2011 Toyota Camry, he works to represent those in the service industry that keep him and so many others safely rolling on.

Dusty Wooddell Photography
River Underwood Photography
Millicent Garland
Lavana Howard, vanna d. photography