Startups / Transportation

Can tablets and apps attract young people to the auto repair industry?

Bolt On Technology hopes so. The latest tool from the Southampton, Pa.-based company is like the hoagie ordering machine at Wawa, but for auto shops.

The auto industry is an old one, said Bolt On Technology founder and CTO Michael Risich, in terms of its workforce and the technology it uses.

“The vehicles we drive are much more technically advanced than the technology we use to service them,” Risich said.

His five-year-old bootstrapped company, based in Southampton, Pa., builds tools to help bring auto shops up to speed with today’s technology. Their latest is “Welcome Station,” a self check-in software that runs on a tablet. Risich likens it to Wawa’s make-your-own-hoagie computer stations.

Risich, 40, of Chalfont, hopes that mobile tools, like Welcome Station, can get young people interested in joining the auto industry because if not, the number of auto shops will dwindle, he said.

The Welcome Station technology costs auto shops $249.95 per month (the shops can purchase tablets on their own or from Bolt On, which sells them at retail), said spokeswoman Theresa Katalinas. It lets customers alert staff of their arrival and specify what services they need.

Bolt On has a “couple dozen” paying customers around the country using Welcome Station, Risich said.

Bolt On’s other tools, which are PC-based and include things like a text alert sent to customers about their next service appointment, are sold by tool manufacturer Snap-on, thanks to a licensing agreement. Their tools have reached auto shops all over North America, Risich said.

Bolt On’s 13 employees work out of a 4,100-square-foot space in Southampton, and the company is looking to grow to 20 by the end of the year. The company moved to that office after leaving a smaller space in Feasterville, Pa.

Risich, who was the VP of Operations of before he founded Bolt On, has considered moving into the city but says the size of the space he’s in right now is hard to beat. Plus, all but two of his employees live in the suburbs.

And, if you’re curious, Risich drives a pre-owned 2003 Mercedes.

“I do like nice cars, but I like used cars,” he said.

Companies: Bolt On Technology

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