Knuckle Busters AAMCO
Honest Auto Repair
UT grad and Air Force veteran Michael Laverdure and wife, Rachel, build a different kind of auto repair business in Knoxville
Integrity first, service before self and excellence in all you do.” That’s part of what UT grad Michael Laverdure asks of his work crew at Knuckle Busters AAMCO on Stekoia Lane.
Laverdure is a US Air Force veteran who is determined to run a car repair business unlike any other — a business that focuses on honesty, integrity, and customer service.
“I borrowed the name from the aircraft maintenance unit I was in charge of Incirlik, Turkey, the 728th Air Mobility Squadron,” Mike says. We called it an ‘aerial pitstop’ — mostly C17s and C5s. We’d change their tires, do brake jobs, minor engine repairs, and fill them up with gas.”
Service Before Self
Much of what Mike learned in the Air Force he’s carried with him, especially as it pertains to his work with clients at Knuckle Busters.
“We do not lie, cheat or steal or tolerate among us those who do. I tell my guys that. That’s part of the core values of the Air Force,” Mike says. “If we accidentally break something in the process of doing a repair, we’ll tell the customer and replace it. Just tell the truth. Integrity first, service before self, going the extra mile and excellence in all you do. We really want to take care of people.”
A New Direction
Mike and his wife Rachel spent two years living near a war zone at the Turkey-Syrian border, followed by a few years on a base in Arizona. Then one Thanksgiving, their lives began to take a new direction.
“We’d come home from Arizona to visit family,” he says. “The kids were playing with their cousins and grandparents. That’s something I didn’t get to do a whole lot growing up because my dad was in the military. I thought, ‘What if we moved back to Knoxville? What would I do?’”
Mike had a bachelor’s in geography under his belt. But he also had eight years of active duty in the Air Force overseeing all aspects of aircraft maintenance for his unit. When the time came to put those skills to use outside of the service, it was clear what direction he would go: transmission repair.
“I did a Google search, and this AAMCO popped up,” he says. “It was a reasonable price. I contacted the owner.”
Taking a Leap
Mike liked what AAMCO offered: a lot of support. Soon he found himself flying to AAMCO University in Newnan, Georgia for training in sales and the business system. Mike and Rachel bought the franchise in 2018, a week after their third child was born.
Rachel and Mike are 50-50 owners. Rachel brings her business degree from Bryan College to the table while Mike brings his supervisory experience and core values from the Air Force.
“We work on cars,” he says, “but my philosophy is we’re a customer service business that happens to repair cars. If you look at it that way, it changes the whole dynamic. We focus on the customer rather than the car.”
At the forefront of Knuckle Busters is the commitment to the client, guiding their work throughout every interaction with those who choose to put their car in Mike hands.
“If a customer has any question and wants to see any part of the process, I’m happy to walk them into the shop and show them the car. Auto repair is traditionally a low-trust industry. I don’t want to be a low-trust shop. I want to be somebody people can depend on. I want to build a business that way and we already have a lot of loyal customers.”
104 Stekoia Lane Knoxville, TN 37921