The Beginning of PHP Specialists
Like many performance shops, PHP Specialists was established out of necessity—with Matt Pietro as the business’ sole technician.
After graduating from Universal Technical Institute, Pietro worked at a local Kansas City Volkswagen dealership. Then he moved to Joplin, MO. where he had met his wife and worked at a few independent shops. Disappointed with the experience and service he saw customers receive at the shops, Pietro decided to take matters into his own hands.
“I also felt like I was getting taken advantage of for being the only one in town with dealer-level experience,” he says. “So I actually began working from my house for a few months and stayed busy with word-of-mouth customers.”
By the time winter came around, Pietro realized he was getting too much business to continue working from home. In 2010, he moved into a 3,000-square-foot facility.
“I had no lifts or heat,” he says. “Just a few lights and my tool box.”
After a few months of success, Pietro acquired a two-post lift; and after a few more months, he was able to hire another technician to work with him.
In 2015, a growing staff and customer base led Pietro to purchase PHP’s current 18,000-square-foot facility in downtown Joplin. A 1926 building that once housed the local electric company, the historic structure was renovated to cater to automotive service.
“I started the old shop by myself and there was plenty of room,” he says. “But as we grew and added technicians, we just needed more space.”
PHP Specialists’ new facility has a 13,000 square-foot workspace and 5,000-square-feet for a waiting room, offices, showroom and storage for parts and tools. Even with six lifts and a Hunter Hawkeye Alignment Rack, there’s still plenty of room to spare; and the set-up supports a more efficient working environment, Pietro says.
“We have allocated a portion of the floor space for the installation of an all-wheel drive dyno to further increase our ability to offer our customers a complete solution for their tuning needs,” he says.
PHP stocks OEM parts to ensure quality and uses factory-level diagnostic equipment like Autologic to fully diagnose customer concerns throughout every vehicle system.
The rarity of dealer-trained technicians is both an advantage and setback to PHP Specialists. While the skill of his technicians enhances and supports the quality of the shop’s work, finding the right personnel to support its philosophy and image is one of the business’ greatest obstacles, Pietro says.
But Pietro hasn’t had to recruit any employees yet—all of the shop’s technicians found a home at the shop on their own, and a laid-back yet productive work environment keeps them satisfied.
Because referrals and positive reviews fuel the PHP’s business, facilitating positive customer experiences is one of Pietro’s biggest goals.
“We always try to install products on our own vehicles first so we can better explain how they work and give the customer valid feedback on why they would want to put the products on their own vehicle,” he says.
One unique perk PHP offers is a pickup service in an enclosed trailer for customers’ vehicles that only get driven on the track or to shows to limit extra wear on the car.
The Go-To Performance Shop
“We are partnered with the industries best aftermarket manufactures to deliver the highest quality results for our customers,” Pietro says.
Some of PHP Specialists’ partners include:
Billy Boat Performance Exhaust
South Bend Clutch
RacingLine Performance Parts (VWR)