ASE certified technician Charley Wilson is The Organic Mechanic. His auto repair business in Asheville, North Carolina specializes in keeping vehicles safe and reliable, with a green twist. In an industry that’s traditionally dirty, The Organic Mechanic has adopted a more conscientious and more eco-friendly approach to automotive repair, service, and maintenance. Wilson, who has a degree in biology from Warren Wilson College, started The Organic Mechanic in May of 2004 with “a jack and a bag of tools.”
“[I] was interested in how I could clean [the auto repair industry] up… Because somebody’s got to do it,” he says. “When you see something that you can change, then you feel obligated to change it.”
Wilson didn’t implement a grand overhaul from the get-go. Instead, he started with the little things such as spill prevention and using recycled oil. As The Organic Mechanic grew, so did its environmental practices. “Sometimes you’re limited by your facility, by your mechanics, whatever it is. If you’re just a shade-tree mechanic, doing repairs in your driveway or a smaller shop, as you grow a little bit, you can add some more things, and as your business comes into its own, you can keep building on it.”
The Organic Mechanic’s current location, which was built in 2009, looks more like a home than a repair shop. The facility was designed that way so that it can be repurposed as another business should Wilson decide to move. The shop also features radiant heating in the floor, a drainage system in the parking lot, and has never had a dumpster. “I see them at other shops, and I wonder what they even need it for. You can recycle or reuse pretty much everything that comes into your shop,” says Wilson.
But Wilson knows that The Organic Mechanic’s environmental initiatives are pointless if he and his team are doing bad work and leaving customers unhappy. “Everybody here cares,” he says. “Everyone here wants to do the best job and everyone here wants to help the customer out… That’s what I think sets us apart from other facilities.”
And that’s what has made The Organic Mechanic Western Carolina’s “Best Auto Repair Shop” for six years in a row and The Destination Guide’s “Best Mechanic.”