Bonita Springs – The Corporate Tuffy name goes all the way back to the 1970’s, but Tuffy in Bonita Springs has only one name these days, Kris Miller. Kris and his wife Annette purchased the business at 27790 S. Tamiami Trail in 2004, representing a marriage of two long-time interests, business and classic cars.
“If Kris had his way, we would have 14 garages full of classic cars. At the moment, we have a 1940 Chevy. Once we went to many classic car shows; now, we go occasionally. Owning a business and spending family time with our son changes our priorities,” shared Annette Miller. This is not the time of year for long trips in the 1940 Chevy; there’s no air conditioning.
Annette and Kris attended Drexel University in Pennsylvania where Kris majored in business. He was always a car buff. They moved to Bonita Springs in 1992 and Kris worked in the automotive business for other employers. He developed a reputation then for skill and integrity, so much so that many customers today followed him from Cape Coral and Golden Gate Estates.
When the current Tuffy franchise was available for sale, the owners approached Kris and Annette. The rest is history. Kris could apply his business skills and his automotive interests to a wide range of vehicles, “bumper to bumper.” The only work they don’t do is body work. They provide services to fleet owners and service every model automobile.
“Our mechanics are mature; they have been in the business a long time and keep their skills current,” shared Annette. “Two employees have been with us since we opened; two are new this year. Customers know what to expect when they trust us with their automobiles.
I am the only ‘desk’ person; Kris is on site every day. This is a ‘hands-on’ team.” The manager and Kris have known each other and worked together in various capacities for nearly twenty years. One new employee is a diesel expert. Family for Kris and Annette includes their son and extended family on both sides that live in Florida.
They occasionally return to Pennsylvania to visit with college friends. Bonita Springs is home where they enjoy a little boating and camping in their limited spare time. Does Kris think he’ll bring his son into the business? “Right now, at eleven, his career hopes change often. His current plan is to become a pilot,” shared his mom. Annette’s analogy for finding a trustworthy mechanic reaches women:
“It’s like a hairdresser. You get advice until you find the right one that knows your hair. You stay with that one because you trust them with something valuable. A car is nearly a weapon; safety is critical. Finding a trustworthy mechanic is vital to a family’s safe travel.” In other words, stick with a trusted mechanic. Tuffy offers specials; but they don’t offer the cut rate oil changes as loss leaders.
“We do quality work and that includes the thorough inspections with an oil change. Today’s automobiles will last a long time with proper maintenance. Both of our current automobiles have over 140,000 miles each. Of course, that’s an advantage of owning a car repair service – the same advantage we pass on to our customers,” explained Annette.
Simple things will help a car operate efficiently. In addition to oil changes and thorough safety checks, tire inflation is a key to the best gas mileage. Poor tires are dangerous with all the rain and storms in Southwest Florida. Dash warning lights are not foolproof. A trustworthy mechanic will catch unexpected issues. Repeat customers are at the heart of a family-owned business in a small community.
“We have a great crew and welcome new customers to discuss their automotive needs,” adds Kris.