Photo by Nick Setting

Spec German sits on a relatively quiet, unassuming street in Gig Harbor. But between the Porsches and Mercedes-Benzes that line its parking lot, it’s rather hard not to do a double take at the small fleet of luxury vehicles.

Founded in March, Spec German was created to service the Porsches and Mercedes of Gig Harbor through its owners and master technicians, Jacob Coen and Jason Edlin. But before they were business owners and master technicians, they were high school students sitting in shop classes and attending vocational technical school.

“I took a high school shop class and actually ended up really liking the mechanical side of things,” Edlin said. After job shadowing his cousin, who at the time worked for Mercedes-Benz, Edlin saw how he could make a living working on cars.

Meanwhile, Coen attended vocational technical school for half the day during his junior and senior years of high school. Sure of his future in a trade, Coen attended Universal Technical Institute but didn’t see a career as a technician until a recruiter came and opened his eyes to the industry demand, prompting an “I can get paid for this?” moment.

During that same time, both Coen and Edlin also recognized that a life at a desk, eyes hovering over a monitor, was not for them. Coen said, “High school taught me that I can’t sit all day. For some people that’s fun, but being sedentary like that in a job … I knew early on I didn’t want anything to do with that.”

So, the duo pursued careers as technicians, where their interests in cars and a paying job could intersect. However, the high pressure and quota-driven atmosphere of dealership auto shops eventually started to wear on the two. “It’s not terrible working in a dealership, but the pace can be kind of high. It’s kind of a grind, day-in and day-out,” Edlin said.

Over time, conversations about opening a shop began to swirl. A particularly pivotal discussion came one morning when Coen and Edlin met in downtown Gig Harbor for coffee. “We (were) sitting out there by the water and … we were talking about Mercedes, and I think 15 Mercedes drove by. So, we kind of started looking at each other like, ‘We gotta get this going.’ ’Cause we saw that the need was definitely here,” Coen said.

The two continued to refine the idea of their own auto shop until a plan began to take action. Properties were found, leases were signed, and a name was selected. Then, the pandemic struck.

With a majority of the workforce staying at home, along with their cars, the discussion of whether to keep moving forward with opening Spec German had to be confronted. Ultimately, the friends believed the need was too great and trusted their instinct that it was still time to strike. “I think we just decided to go for it. There’s never going to be a perfect time (to open) … My thought is, if you wait around for that perfect moment, you’re never going to find it. You just sometimes have to make it happen,” Edlin said.

On opening day, after months of fixing the shop and gathering tools and supplies, Coen and Edlin were eager to get back in their element: fixing cars. Now, several months later, the shop has continued to manage a continuously full schedule of bookings. It’s a testament to the care Coen and Edlin put not just into cars but also their customers.

“We’re trying to provide the absolute best quality that we can and provide the client with a little more of a hands-on, personalized experience,” said Edlin. He added, “Our goal is to build relationships with our clients for the long term. We want people to come see us for the lifetime of their vehicle. And then their next vehicle. And the vehicle after that.”

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