Full-Service Auto Care
Daryl Stillman began purchasing Meineke Car Care centers in 2010, a business he’s found to be both lucrative and rewarding. He’s quick to point out that Meineke has expanded from its roots as a “discount muffler” shop. “Anybody my age is very familiar with George Foreman and the fact that he’s ‘not going to pay a lot for
this muffler.’ That’s what we did years ago, but now we’ve expanded to full-service automotive care. If it fits between the front bumper and the back bumper, we fix it.”
For Stillman, becoming a Meineke franchisee was all about family—his family, as well as those who work
for him. Stillman himself is married and has three daughters: ages nine, eleven, and twenty-five. As an
entrepreneur, he sees his business through the eyes of a dad and husband.
“The last company I worked for had different values than me, so I went out on my own and bought my
first Meineke franchise. Though there are exceptions, as a general rule, I believe that all of our staff
should go home at or before close. Because there’s life outside the job, and that’s one of the things that
makes the centers I operate a little more appealing than most automotive shops.”
Closing out 2019, Stillman was content operating the four centers he had acquires throughout the St.
Louis area. But after an intriguing call early in 2020 with Will Aschinger, he realized he wasn’t finished
Finding a Buyer for an Automotive Property
In 2005, Helen Geldbach inherited 3722 Lemay Ferry Road from her father. A 2700 square-foot
automotive property, its tenant for several years has been a Meineke Car Care Center, owned and
operated by Mike Jones.
This Meineke had a well-established customer base, and it was set-up for success. The location is
minutes from I-270, I-255, and I-55 and situated in a high-traffic area near plenty of retail nearby.
Jones, however, was ready to retire. When he gave Geldbach the news, she realized she wanted to
retire from managing her property as well.
Her first call was to Will Aschinger of Hilliker Corporation, a recommendation from a real estate
acquaintance. She knew Hilliker’s reputation, saying, “I called them because they’re the best.” She spoke
with Will over the phone, and they put the property on the market on January 20, 2020.
Will Aschinger, a veteran with over thirty years of commercial experience, was able to generate activity
immediately. But after contemplating different buyers for the property, Aschinger saw an opportunity.
They could create a speedy transaction with Stillman and create a further win for Geldbach’s tenant,
who could sell their business within the Meineke franchise.
Once he reached Stillman, he knew that would be the smoothest solution that would benefit all three parties.
Connecting the Dots for Greater Success
When Stillman spoke with Aschinger, though he hadn’t been looking to expand, he thought it was too good of an opportunity to let slip past him. After touring the building, he realized that, though it was structurally sound, it needed a facelift.
He considered three separate options.
First, he knew he could buy the franchise and move it to a newer building. Still, he didn’t want to do anything that would risk losing the customer base Jones had already established. He said, “Sometimes you can move a location, but often people use a particular shop because of how close it is to their
Second, he knew he could become Geldbach’s tenant, working to strike a deal for her to rehab theproperty, but that didn’t seem like the best choice. “Besides,” said Stillman, “I’d rather do the work myself and, when it’s done, to reap the reward.”
In the end, Stillman decided to purchase both the franchise and the property. He had a plan to beautify
the existing structure without shutting down the shop—and stopping the location’s revenue stream.
Aschinger represented both Geldbach and Stillman in the deal. They agreed to the purchase price of
$275,000 on March 30, 2020, a little over two months after Geldbach listed it.
Combining Franchise Ownership
Stillman has big plans for the new location. He said, “We'll re-image the front of it completely, replacing
the metal exterior. We’ll paint it in our colors, which are white and black, and we’ll add a new bathroom
so that it will feel more comfortable for customers.”
By owning all of his automotive properties, Stillman has successfully diversified his investment in the
shops. He said, “Meineke has several centers in the area, and it’s a trend I can only assume will continue
until I’m ready to retire. Someone will want to buy my Meineke Car Care Centers. And it’s a lot easier to
sell a franchise when you own the property on top of that.”
Geldbach is ecstatic over the purchase of her property, saying:
“Will was able to move the deal along very quickly. He made my life so much
easier—not only was he my representative, but he went out and found the buyer.
The whole thing was stupendous.”
What’s the next phase of your real estate lifecycle?
Entrepreneurs and investors grow through a real estate life cycle. Each stage plays a crucial role in a lifetime’s worth of success.
With so much opportunity, there is rarely a moment for forward-thinking investors to sit back and rest
on their laurels.
So, if you’re an entrepreneur of any kind, where are you in your real estate lifecycle?
- Startup & Launch — When you’re new to a business endeavor, your property choices must
make sense for who you are now while acknowledging who you hope to be one day
- Growth & Maturity — As you prosper and increase your market share, you can receive
consultation from real estate experts who will help you maximize your position
- Exit & Invest — When it comes time to move to a more manageable schedule, you’ll need to
know how to make wise decisions that will mean the highest benefit for both you and your heirs
Hilliker Corporation specializes in leading St. Louis’s entrepreneurs through the complexities of their
careers. If you’re at a turning point in your real estate life cycle, contact our broker, Will Aschiger.