NORMAL If someone had asked Jerry Adams what he did for a living 10 years ago, he would have quickly said he fixed transmissions.
He still does. But after 25 years in the business of getting people back on the road ASAP he’s also earned his stripes as an amateur psychologist.
In fact, the owner of Mid-State Transmission Service at 1408 Fort Jesse Road, Normal, now tells everyone he’s in the customer service business. He pointed to the ability to fix cars and trucks coupled with a visible passion for people as keys to 25 years of success.
To celebrate, the business plans soon to release a new company logo and Web site.
“The most important part of the business is my passion for helping people with situations they find themselves in. Most of our repairs take two or three days. They want to know how they’re going to get to the doctor or pick up the kids from school,” said Adams. “We are in the business of helping people. That’s what I really enjoy.”
While the business has no loaner cars for customers, employees help arrange for rental cars. Mid-State also runs a shuttle to take people to and from work or home.
Adams further dispelled a common notion that transmission repairs cost big bucks. Some do, but about three-fourths of the cars and trucks under a ton repaired at the business contain only small leaks or electrical wiring problems.
The business has grown from humble 1981 beginnings in a renovated gas station on Locust Street to a 10,000-square-foot building on Fort Jesse Road. Mid-State Transmission occupied its Bloomington location until 1999. The old gas station was expanded by 4,800 square feet in 1985, but the building soon grew too small.
Twelve employees work at the business. Seven, with more than 200 years of combined experience, perform mechanical repairs on 12 lifts for about a dozen cars daily in an expansive garage. All transmission technicians are Automotive Service Excellence certified.
The work area includes three stations where employees rebuild transmissions for a new endeavor called Transmissions 2 Go. The expanded service provides rebuilt transmissions to area car repair shops. Adams keeps about 70 of the most popular rebuilt transmissions on hand.
Adams noted all transmissions are re-manufactured or used. Distributors provide an alternative to local transmission shops, but delivery typically takes several days.
Just as Mid-State Transmission’s focus has grown, so has technology needed to perform repairs. Employees attend regular seminars conducted by the Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association, Automatic Transmission Service Group and local parts suppliers to keep up on the latest tools, equipment and technology.
“I always hoped that the business would last. I thought this would be my career path, but I didn’t think the business would look like this with the increasing electronics in transmissions,” said Adams. “There will always be major transmission failures, but cars are made better. The electronic diagnostics will pick up for aging vehicles.”
Adams, who keenly watches car manufacturer forecasts, pointed to hybrid cars as a possible future challenge for his business if American drivers increasingly embrace the vehicles. Many hybrids contain a continually variable transmission that operates on a pulley system instead of the conventional gear box with interlocking, toothed wheels.
“Our work is to create and keep customers. The community has blessed us with their support,” said Adams.