ER Automotive, Hawthorne

by Alana Quartuccio

ER Automotive is so much more than an automotive shop. It’s basically a rolling OEM dealership, accessible by dialing 917-Call-Ted. 

Ted Reineke is the owner and operator of ER Automotive, an automotive service operation that is both mobile and brick and mortar. Reineke spends most of his day on the road, going in and out of automotive shops to assist them in all areas on the mechanical side of the fence. In more recent years, his operation has evolved into the world of ADAS as both collision repair and automotive shops depend on ER Automotive to perform those services. He also maintains a shop in Hawthorne where he performs all kinds of maintenance and basic automotive repairs. 

Reineke knew what he wanted to do from a young age. His high school automotive shop class and a work study program at a taxi garage would launch what has become a successful career. “I started out young knowing what I wanted to do, but I had no idea it would take me to where I am today,” he reflects. 

He went on to study at Lincoln Technical Institute and later spent about 10 years working at different Chrysler Dodge dealerships. “I started as a technician and grew into a foreman role, running a shop of 30 techs. When I started doing some side work for friends and family, I began to recognize that there was a lot more work to be done and pondered the idea of starting my own business.”

He explored what he calls “the wild idea” to be a mobile mechanic. He outfitted a truck with everything he would need to do repairs and general service work. He kept his operation solely mobile until he decided the demand for mobile work had fizzled out somewhat. Although he was afraid to commit at first, he took the opportunity to rent an available bay at a Hawthorne-based parts store he would purchase from. His customers included body shops that would come to him if they had trouble with diagnostic issues. When ADAS came into play, it really changed the focus of his business and took him back to the road. 

“ADAS came about around 2014, but it didn’t really ramp up until 2017. That’s when I saw the body shops bring me in for this, and I saw the future of my business.

“Fast forward to today, and I am running around in and out of shops programming cars,” Reineke continues. “I service every car line. I have every factory scan tool; I am able to do everything. I never really run into a bump in the road. I like figuring stuff out. It’s what keeps me so busy. I am dependable, quick and efficient, and rarely has there been a need to bring a vehicle back to me after I’ve fixed it.” 

Reineke believes strongly in quality service. He won’t perform anything less and, in fact, is sure to keep his business focused on his core customers. Taking on too much could affect the quality of his work, and he will never risk that. 

Whereas coming to the rescue for emergency repairs and services is something Reineke’s core customers can most certainly depend on, the ER in his business’ name actually isn’t meant to stand for “emergency” – although it is quite an opportune assumption. Many will be surprised to know that ER stands for his initials as his legal name is Edward Reineke.

“Everyone knows me as Ted,” Reineke acknowledges, “My legal name is Edward. I was named after both my grandfathers. My parents wanted me to be named after them but also did not want me to grow up as ‘Little Eddie’ or ‘Eddie Junior,’ so they decided to call me Teddy, and it’s been my name ever since.” 

Entrepreneurial spirit has been coursing through Reineke’s bloodstream since he was a youngster. Before he got into automotive work, he ran his own snow removal and lawn mowing businesses, always going by the name ER, which he’d proudly display on the invoices he’d draft up. When it came time to start his own automotive business, ER Automotive was the obvious choice for his operation. 

Reineke recognizes the emergency room comparison makes sense based on the way his business is set up. ”The way my business has evolved, it really is an ‘emergency room’ repair. I am called in because a shop is stressed. If it’s a mechanical shop for example, perhaps they wasted too much time on diagnosing a car and are unsure of what to do. They may be thinking about sending it to the dealership, but perhaps they can’t afford to do that without taking a loss on the repair. That’s where I come in with the emergency repair.” 

His customers know he’s there to take care of them. “I will take care of my customers no matter what. I have appointments set up every day. If one of my customers calls me with an emergency, I will work it so that I get to it without affecting others who have appointments set. They know I will make it work and appointments will be taken care of. Emergencies will be tended to after. I am also good at communicating back and forth. My phone is constantly going off. It’s organized chaos, but it works well.” 

Recently, Reineke became a member of AASP/NJ. “A lot of my customers have talked to me about the association, and I had been wanting to get more involved. It’s not easy for me to get away from the realm of work, but I decided to not push my hours so much. At the end of last year, I wrote down some things I wanted to do. Joining AASP/NJ was on that list, so I stopped by AASP/NJ President Ken Miller’s shop and told him I wanted to sign up. I had one of my customers, Paragon Auto Collision (Wyckoff), join me at AASP/NJ’s January meeting at TOPGOLF, and they signed up with me. I was happy to bring them along.”

Being a part of the association is “good for me as I can gain knowledge and learn about what goes on behind the scenes. So much has evolved and changed with vehicles, and there is such a need for education and training. One can’t go through the motions and try learning by watching videos on YouTube. 

“I am happy to be a part of AASP/NJ. It’s good to meet new people and see how they do things and how the industry is responding to changes. There is always something new to learn. Every day, I learn something from someone. I’m glad to be a part of a network of like-minded people.”

Want more? Check out the March 2024 issue of New Jersey Automotive!