Most people donâ€™t associate automotive repair shops with the green movement. But while launching a post-NFL career, Dan Wilkinson chose to draw on his lifelong interest in cars, while building a business that would also help the environment.
In late 2007, he opened two AAMCO Transmissions franchises in Ohio, and plans to open five more over the next couple of years. By doing so, Wilkinson, 34, joined a network thatâ€™s working to reduce the millions of gallons of toxic materials released into the environment every year.
AAMCO recently introduced an ECO-Green certification awarded to its dealers who meet environmental standards that surpass established federal and state requirements. To become certified, dealers must show that they recycle waste fluids, solvents, and used filters; promote the use of alternative fuels and higher-mileage oil, filters, and components; ensure proper tire inflation; offer new technologies that result in more efficient and cleaner burning vehicles; and utilize low-energy solutions, solid waste recycling, and recycled products in their operations.
Wilkinson looked at several franchises before choosing AAMCO for its reputation in the industry and green efforts. “I was impressed by the inroads that the company had made to become environmentally friendly,” says Wilkinson, who in 1994 was the Cincinnati Bengalsâ€™ No.1 pick in the first round of the NFL draft. “Between the gas and the oil and the exhaust given off by cars, itâ€™s obvious that automotive centers can play a key role in preserving the environment.”
Now a free agent with the NFL, Wilkinson played the 2007 season for the Miami Dolphins before opening the automotive shops to augment his existing commercial real estate portfolio. Wilkinsonâ€™s eight-employee company recently passed AAMCOâ€™s ECO-Green certificationâ€“a target he set his sights on the minute he opened the doors of his first location. “That was my goal from Day 1.”
For its customers, AAMCO offers an EPA-certified E85 Flex Fuel Conversion Kit that sells for $1,500 to $2,000, depending on the vehicle. The kit allows the car to use E85 fuel (a mixture of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline), which according to the company costs 15% less than traditional gasoline.
Wilkinson says the kits are available on his firmâ€™s menu of ECO-green services, which also includes environmentally safe oil changes and filters, among other options. While he admits that going green adds some cost to the expense of doing business, he says it is well worth it.
“Itâ€™s just a constant effort to get society realizing that everyone must do their part in conserving our environment for future generations,” says Wilkinson. “The auto industry can play a huge role in helping to deter global warming and other threats that could affect the next three, four, or five generations.”