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Jay Egge Automatic Service, Inc.
“All in the Family” was a popular sitcom in the 70’s. Although they are not quite as funny as the Bunker family, the Egge’s do keep it all in the family. Jay Egge Automatic Service (JEAS) was started by Jay and Dorothy Egge in 1977, in a then desolate location on the east side just outside the city limits of Sioux Falls. When the building was built, there was only one other building remotely close, DJs Bar, which is still in the same location. However, the landscape around JEAS has changed dramatically.
Jay started the business at the age of 49 with a passion for providing superior transmission service. That legacy continues some 33 years later as his son Todd
continues the family tradition of service that has become the Egge professional legacy. Jay spent more than 50 years in the transmission business. He managed a shop for his brother Marlo during his first 25 years prior to striking out on his own. Having lived on the east side of Sioux Falls and being heavily involved with the rural community their whole lives, it was simply “automatic” that Jay and Dorothy would choose the east side for their business. What started as a quiet, slow paced setting is now a busy, high energy industrial park with JEAS smack dab in the middle of it all.
JEAS fixes automatic and manual transmissions, transfer cases, differentials, CV joints, U-joints, flywheels, clutches, along with 4WD repair and electrical diagnosis. They utilize state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment to perform repairs on over 80 transmissions every week. They provide transmission repair service on most makes and models (foreign or domestic) of passenger vehicles, light trucks, SUV’s and diesel powered trucks to individuals as well as more than 400 wholesale customers. Inventory on a number of domestic automatic transmissions is always available with the rear wheel drive applications. Custom rebuilding of other units will take about two to three days in most cases. Foreign units generally take longer due to parts availability.
Current owners, Todd and Joanne Egge, purchased the business from Todd’s parents in 1990, and have grown the business from a handful of employees to a 14 member staff in a state-of-the-art 14,000 square foot building. You have no doubt heard the ads with the tag line “driven to be the best” and their entire organization is quick to tell you why that marketingphrase tells the story of their business. Members of the staff speak of service to their customers and pride in their work. Lee Nichols, who has been with the Egge family for eleven years, proudly demonstrated their DYNO machine (the only one in a 200-mile area). “The DYNO tests nearly every transmission we work on,” according to Nichols. This machine is accurate within 99% of diagnosing any potential problems with a transmission. “This machine ensures that every transmission we sell will perform to standards. This is the Jay Egge difference.”
According to Todd, “We are the largest and most successful transmission repair business in the area because of two things: 1. our commitment to quality and 2. dedication to customer satisfaction. We are one of the oldest transmission shops in Sioux Falls, with 33 years of proven performance you can trust for hassle-free transmission repair.
Like most family businesses, Todd worked for his father early on. However, unlike many family businesses, Todd attended college and earned a degree that didn’t necessarily tie in with the family business. Todd graduated from South Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering. “I chose the transmission repair business over engineering because I developed a love for the self-satisfaction it gives me. I was
proud of the reputation my father built L to R: Todd Egge, Darren Harvey, Rich Giadone, Bob Bessman, Joanne Egge, Lee Nicholas, Jesse Kruger, Greg Koch, Pam Mathison, Andy Veldhuizen and Bob Stuntebeck. Not pictured: Dewey Hessaa, Earl McGraw and Leah Anderson L to R: Todd, John, Alan and Jay Egge with Jim Matthews Jay and Dorothy enjoyed camping up over the years and wanted to carry on that tradition. I am a hands-on owner and believe in the philosophy; if you take care of your customers, they will take care of you.”
Todd’s wife Joanne is a co-owner and also works in the business. She handles the office operations of the business. While Todd oversees the daily operations, from estimating and diagnosing drivability problems, Joanne ensures that the business side is given the same attention to detail. “We work side-by-side with our employees on a daily basis,” according to Egge.
A reliable transmission is important to the proper functioning of any vehicle. Transmission problems don’t go away on their own. A small problem today may become a big problem later. Manufacturers suggest servicingtransmissions every 30,000 miles. However, several factors can reduce or extend the manufacturer’s suggestion. Todd is quick to point out that there is a difference between servicing and flushing a transmission. “Routine service involves dropping the transmission pan and allowing all available fluids to drain out. Normally about half of the existing fluid remains in the system and new fluid is added to bring the system back to normal levels. The transmission filter should also be changed when your transmission is serviced. Costs can vary widely with routine service running around $85. A transmission overhaul can range from $1,000 for earlier models to $1,900 and up for later models. Remember, regular maintenance is the key to extending the life of a transmission.”
Todd and Joanne attribute much of their success to their employees, involvement in the community and the
automotive repair industry. “We are proud of our low turnover rate,” they said. Dewey Hassaa has worked 33 years with us while Earl McGraw has put in 23 years. Greg Koch and Rich Giadone have each worked for JEAS since 1995 and Pam Mathison (Joanne’s sister) since 1996. In addition to membership in both the Sioux Falls and Brandon Chambers of Commerce, sponsoring community events and activities including bowling, slow and fast pitch softball teams, they are also members of ATSG (Automatic Transmission Service Group) and the ATRA (Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association). Todd has also served on the Board of ASA. While serving as its President, he strove to improve the ethics of the auto repair industry. They also have been involved in the local circle track racing community. Jay and his brother Marlo were well known for building highly competitive race cars back in the 60’s and 70’s. With top notch drivers like Dave Engebretson and Jim Matthews at the wheel, they had great success at the local area race tracks. Jay and Todd continued to support racing through the 80’s, 90’s and present by working with safety crews and promoting special events.
Success in the future of the industry will be driven by continuing education, investment in the proper equipment, and a constant focus on keeping costeffective repairs. “Manufacturers continue to produce passenger cars with more and more electronics and many are now CVT or belt driven transmissions. Trucks are “heavier duty” than ever before, which adds to the costs of repair. Because we are a customer driven company our continued investment in employees and equipment will continue to provide competitive repair rates.”
As for the third generation of Egges’ in the transmission business, Todd and Joanne’s son Joseph has been helping out at the shop ever since he can remember. Maybe someday, he will continue the Egge tradition “driven to be the best”.