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Meet MACS member, Tom Lech

By Giselle Horrell, MACS Contributor

Stationed in San Francisco, California, Thomas Lech has maintained a bustling business for almost three decades. Lech Auto Air Conditioning has been busy for 365 days a year from opening at 7 a.m. to closing at 7 p.m. for the last 27 years, with summertime only increasing the demand for the shop’s services. Clients of the shop are encouraged to make appointments; otherwise, they will have to wait by taking a line number.

Far from being a drawback, the wait for service is a mark of success. Clientele word-of-mouth has increased—and continues to maintain—Lech Auto’s reputation, resulting in no need for formal advertisement. Additionally, being called upon as a second opinion or to resolve A/C problems other repair shops have been unable to fix are more examples of the trust Lech Auto Air Conditioning enjoys.

Primarily, Lech Auto handles A/C repairs and thermal management diagnoses with a few general repairs. While the shop does not perform radiator repairs, the type of service offered is still broad. On the automotive side, the shop offers automotive A/C diagnoses as well as service for body and mechanical shops. Since body shops do not perform auto repair, these shops rarely have their own recovery equipment. So, Lech Auto offers these shops on-site refrigerant recovery and handling, along with recharges, refrigerant identification, problem-solving consultations, trouble-shooting, and custom cooling modifications. Prior to most heavy duty and off-road repair shops going out of business in the region, Tom performed those types of repairs too; now he diversifies his business by offering service to helicopters and commercial HVAC units. To offer such a variety of services and maintain quality work, Tom sends his employees for extensive training.

He advocates for more training and education for technicians throughout the automotive industry, as well. Tom’s two decades of membership with MACS comes in part from his belief that “our trade needs education and exposure to new tools and procedures and training opportunities.” According to Tom, the annual MACS Training Event and Trade Show provides excellent exposure to the “newest tools and equipment manufacturers,” along with the latest training, and the opportunity to “meet people from around the world who want to provide better service and learn more.”  

When it comes to tools for his shop, Tom says he has invested in “too many to list” but that his smartphone is the one tool he could not run his business without. In the last year, he has also invested “heavily in many different types of leak diagnostics equipment,” and a “hydrogen gas leak detector for pressurized leak detection testing” is on his tool wish list.  

Even the most prepared, well-trained shops can run into difficult repair jobs. For Tom, he says that diagnosing a collapsed inner lining on an A/C hose “kicked my butt.” The only way to find out if an inner lining has collapsed in the hose is to perform a temperature test on the metal line in the hose; MACS covers this type of problem in the Best Practices: Automotive Air Conditioning System Theory, Diagnosis, and Service Procedures training class in the Mobile A/C System Temperature Testing section.   

Being a fourth-generation automotive technician with all his family members owning body shops or mechanical shops, Tom hopes to pass his business down to one of his sons or grandsons when he retires. But until then, he is determined to run Lech Auto Air Conditioning and train his technicians to surpass the skills of anyone else in his service area.

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