“My father would leave for work before I got up and come home after I was in bed. I was allowed to stay awake on Friday nights to wait for him, but this small child would inevitably fall asleep,” said Hanson. “My father would pick me up and put me to bed and I would smell the oil and grease and sweat on him.”
When Hanson was 8, his father took him to his run-down muffler shop in Los Angeles. “So began my journey some 57 years ago in an industry that I love and has loved me back.”
Hanson said his first job was to sort bolts and nuts. If he did that well, his father let him practice welding. If he did that well, he had the chance to actually work on cars beside his father.
Years later, Hanson now owns a shop in Spring Valley, California serving the San Diego County area. Ed Hanson’s Muffler Service (“Where all your pipe dreams come true”) employs only two technicians and a receptionist, but they serve over 5,000 clients in the 256 days of operation a year!
“It is all about relationships,” said Hanson. “I want everyone that walks through our office door to feel like they are the only one that matters.” The community built through the car shop has been a powerful influence on his life. When Hanson’s wife became very sick, customers brought cards, food, and flowers for the family.
As with any business, Ed Hanson’s Muffler Service has faced challenges. The recession played a large factor, and Hanson realized that he had to make sure people knew “we were here for the long run.”
One of the most challenging times for Hanson personally was when he lost the vision in his left eye and could no longer work on cars. “I have a strong faith and it weakened for a moment,” he said. But the weakness didn’t last long. “I picked myself up and dusted myself off and began ‘working on the business’ instead of ‘working in the business.'”
Hanson has been working hard on cars for many years – but he doesn’t want to stop there. He goes above and beyond by giving back to young servicemen and women in the community.
Hanson told the story of a young man who came into his shop with a diesel truck that had a purple heart license plate. The man was a Marine named Mark Hupp who had been wounded by a mine explosion. When Hanson fixed his truck, he told Hupp that there would be no charge.
Soon afterward, Hupp said he wanted to come by the shop with a few friends. Hanson didn’t know what to expect. When Hupp’s friends arrived, Hanson was changed forever. “There in front of me were four proud young men who fought for our freedom and they had a total of 9 limbs between them,” he said.
Hanson decided he wanted to spend time and energy investing into the lives of those who had been injured fighting for our country. He has worked with The Warrior Foundation and Freedom Station to give interviews, write articles, and raise money for wounded troops. He led two car shows that raised over $60,000. He also builds relationships with the servicemen and women in the community. “Our house is filled during the holidays and many home cooked meals are welcomed by our new family,” he said.
“There is plenty of opportunity in America,” said Hanson. Even just driving down the highway every day, he sees so many cars that need work!
To people just starting out, he has advice: “If you are passionate about a career in any field, never cease learning and bettering yourself.” He compares it to bodysurfing. If you stop paddling when you hit the crest of a wave, you will drop out.
But most importantly, Hanson said it is important to give back to the community. “Do something for someone or some group without expectation of returned favors. If you want to be filled with joy in your life, heed this last bit of advice.”
Ed Hanson is changing the world, one customer at a time. He brings joy to every person he meets and never stops working for the good of his community. His hope for America is contagious.
The way Hanson signs his e-mails says it best: “May our Flag forever fly free and may the winds that carry its colors never die down!”
First published on Opportunity Lives