From The Daniel Island News|
Discover Clements Ferry Road
By Elizabeth Bush
Aug 21, 2013 - 8:33:58 AM
|Father-daughter team Ken and Callie Leatherberry of Daniel Island operate the automotive repair shop "911 Fanatech" off Clements Ferry Road. The business caters to owners of vehicles made by Porche and Mercedes-Benz.||
|A display case in the waiting room is clearly a focal point, offering a glimpse into Ken's passion for cars and auto racing.||
|A perfectly organized tool box is one of Ken's trademarks, according to daughter, Callie.||
|Parts and supplies are carefully organized in a side room at Ken's shop.||
|Ken works on a Mercedes in the shop's garage.|
Daniel Island resident Ken Leatherberry has found the perfect way to fuel his passion for cars made by Porsche and Mercedes-Benz. Last year, he and his daughter, Callie, opened a local shop that specializes in servicing and restoring the German-made vehicles. Together, they run the business like a well-oiled machine.
“What we’re all about here is just maintaining and keeping that car running as long as you want to drive it!” said Ken, a master registered technician.
Located just off Clements Ferry Road at 459 Jessen Lane, the Leatherberrys’ business is called “911 Fanatech” (pronounced “fanatic” in a nod to Ken’s meticulous organization and attention to detail). Ken has 32 years experience servicing Porsche and Mercedes-Benz products, spending half his career working in dealerships and the other half operating his own automotive businesses in Florida and North Carolina. In the comfortable waiting room and office area of his shop is a wall decorated with dozens of certifications he’s earned over the years. In fact, he’s one of 150 Porsche technicians in the United States trained on the Carrera-GT and is also certified to work on vehicles made by Audi and Volkswagen.
“He’s one of the most knowledgeable people,” said Callie. “He’s the smartest person I know!”
“We’ve done it for so long,” added Ken, of his formula for business success. “We’ve taken every good thing that’s happened and compiled it into this little place.”
Ken remembers developing his “mechanical mind” while tinkering at his father’s business as a young teen.
“My father had a Wheel Horse Lawn and Garden dealership,” he said. “I was 13 years old and I took apart all the old engines. I actually taught myself how to work on engines and found that I had a knack for it.”
He worked in his father’s service department and then, after graduating from high school, completed training at a technical school and began work at a Mercedes-Benz dealership. The experience ignited his affinity for the luxury vehicles known for their engineering and innovation.
“I was hooked!” he said. “I just had such an appreciation for the way they are put together and the craftsmanship that it took to make something like that. It’s just amazing.”
Lured by the Lowcountry’s coastal lifestyle, Ken and his wife, Kim, relocated to the Charleston area from Asheville in 2010. After working for a year at Baker Motor Company, he decided it was time once again to go out on his own, confident his unique skills would serve a niche in the Daniel Island/Cainhoy community.
“We knew this was a good area, so we found this building and remodeled it to suit our needs,” said Ken, who enjoys a four minute commute to work from his home in Daniel Island’s Center Park neighborhood. “And we wanted to stay as close to the island as we could. We get a lot of folks from Summerville, North Charleston, Mount Pleasant, and the island. It’s just such a centrally-located place.”
About the same time that Ken was preparing to open his shop, Callie came down from Asheville for a visit. She soon got some unexpected, life-changing news.
“I was a medical office manager for a women’s health center and I got laid off,” she recalled. “I kind of took that as a sign or an opportunity. He was setting up the business…. and he asked me if I could help. I keep telling him it’s like a dream job because he really is my favorite guy in the whole world! I get to work with him all day. That’s pretty cool!”
Callie’s business background provided the perfect pairing with Ken’s mechanical talents and expertise. And like her father, Callie’s childhood memories of hanging around Ken’s shops helped shape her own passion for cars.
“My brother and I, from the time we were three and five…we would go over to the shop in the morning before school and he would come pick us up after school and we would go back,” she said. “So we spent the majority of our days at the shop working…. He would let us do invoices, let us change oil, and (when we were older) we could pull cars from the front of the shop to the back…We kind of grew up in that environment, being around cars and going to races…and I developed an interest in that as well.”
The father-daughter team provides a service that is resonating with their customers. After restoring each and every vehicle to its peak performance, Ken thoroughly washes the cars before returning them to their owners.
“We love our customers,” said Ken. “And we try to make everybody as happy as possible. That’s our main concern…. We’re not a business for everybody, but the people we serve are wonderful.”
“Everybody has given incredible feedback about him, and how they appreciate him so much,” added Callie. “There is an overall feeling of gratefulness when they leave. He does what he needs to do, plus more. And people really seem to appreciate that.”
While walking through the garage of the shop on a recent morning, Ken proudly showcased the state-of-the-art equipment he uses to bring the cars in his care back to top working order. The garage is a virtually spotless space, completely organized and efficient, a trademark of Ken’s workmanship, Callie added. When asked if this is where he feels most at home, he didn’t hesitate to answer.
“Oh yes,” he said, smiling. “This is where I feel the most important.”
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