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Wednesday May 24, 2017
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Ann Arborite Lou Caincross

 

continued

Caincross returns with a diagnosis: when they reinstalled the clutch, they left a cable rubbing against the chassis. While Brian makes it right, I ask Caincross about his life and the transmission business.

"Let's see. I was born in Charleston, West Virginia, in 1950," he cheerfully replies. "My father was a Baptist preacher, and we came up here on vacation when I was fourteen or fifteen, and he liked what he saw. Liked the weather, too, and we stayed....I was one of twelve kids, you see, and two of my older brothers and a sister were already living up here and working in the [car] plants."

After a stint in the Army, he worked various jobs before becoming a salesman for Naylor Chrysler in the late 1970s. "I sold a used car to a couple of gentlemen who were Israeli and didn't speak English very well. They were the new franchisees at the AAMCO transmission shop across the street, and I said to them, 'You need a guy who speaks good English'--and they asked me to be him."

Caincross learned to fix transmissions at AAMCO, but "I always saw myself as an entrepreneur--so I bought this place when it came up for sale in 1986. My wife and I took out our life's savings and bought it for $15,000. It was a Continental [Transmissions] franchise then, and we had a ten-year agreement that I'd use the name and pay them seven and a half percent of the gross."

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