Rolf’s Import Auto Celebrates 50 Years

There’s a special kind of magic in European fuel injection cars. Rolf Simons knew that.

In 1970 Rolf Simons opened a small auto repair shop in Lakewood. His business began to change when military personnel returned from duty in Europe, bringing their fuel-injection cars—mostly Volkswagens—with them.

In 1975 Rolf moved into a new shop at 3122 96th Street South near warehouses in Lakewood as Rolf’s Import Auto Service, focusing on premier import auto repair. And that’s where you can still find the business, now entering its 51st year with Rolf’s son Mark as the owner.

“I started working with my dad part-time in 2001,” Mark said. It wasn’t his intention to leave his career in country club management, but he decided his professional skills worked well in the family business.

“As a service adviser, I built relationships with the customers,” Mark said. “I decided to stay. What my dad did, I followed.” He built relationships with car dealers who needed high-end pre-inspection services.

A key to 50-plus years of helping clients is “being transparent,” he pointed out. “Our job is to repair vehicles and to help clients. We figure out what a vehicle needs and what the customer needs,” Mark said. He presents the information and works with a customer to make a plan.

That approach must appeal to clients. They respond, calling Mark “informative and professional,” “warm and considerate” and “patient and kind.”

COVID-19 has impacted the business. The car count is down dramatically, Mark reported—about 20% a week. “Clients say they aren’t driving as much,” he said, “but cars should be inspected on schedule even if fewer miles are driven.”

An advantage of business-in-times-of-COVID has been the chance to push the use of Rolf’s concierge service. The company is expanding pick up and delivery of vehicles. That service works especially well in the Fife location, which opened in 2006.

Mark is focusing on the future. Before Rolf died in 2013, he and Mark worked out a transition plan. Now Mark has a goal for the company.

“I am really trying to encourage staff development and their sense of ownership,” Mark said. He sees that as the key to lasting success in the next 50 years.

Rolf’s Import Auto Service