Hans Art: The Art of Automotive
By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter
SAN FRANCISCO — When Hans Art started fixing cars as a young man, his intention was to earn an income while avoiding the rigors of conventional employment. Somewhat ironically, this led to a prolific career that he’s still involved in today. “I was a temporarily unemployed hippie and I wanted a job that came with a lot of free time, so I started fixing cars out of my garage,” he recounts. “After about seven years, I moved into an actual shop, where I got organized and set up my business. The company continued to grow over time, and 47 years later, I’m still at it.”
Today, as owner of Hans Art Automotive, Hans says his favorite part of his job is interacting with his customers and staff. “I have a great clientele, many of whom I’ve been serving for multiple decades. I also have great employees—they’re competent, interesting and a pleasure to work with.”
A lifetime resident of San Francisco, Hans expresses his appreciation for the city he calls home. “San Francisco is a lot different from what it was 40 years ago, in some ways for the better…the ’70s were completely insane. Overall, it’s a good city to live in, and a beautiful one at that—every day I’m amazed at how beautiful it is.”
Outside of work, Hans engages in a variety of active interests and pastimes. “I enjoy reading, especially anything to do with science and history,” he details. “I also regularly attend symphony and opera performances, and I enjoy riding my bicycle around the city.” Additionally, Hans likes spending time with his wife, Linda, his children, Katie and Claire, and extended family members throughout Northern California.
In regard to his career, Hans emphasizes the importance of customer care. “In some ways, being in auto repair is similar to being a nurse or caregiver—it just so happens that instead of caring for people, we’re caring for their cars,” he explains. “However, there’s a profound psychological element to it, because people are nervous about their cars and how much things are going to cost. That’s why half of what we do is putting customers at ease and maintaining relationships with them.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Hans gives a modest reply. “I don’t really have a bucket list—I’ve pretty much done everything I’ve wanted to do, so there are no unfulfilled wishes. Actually, my bucket list item would be to sit and read the Wall Street Journal cover to cover every morning. That doesn’t sound too exciting, but I love reading and never have quite as much time for it as I’d like.”
Ask Me Anything!
Q: What’s your favorite book?
A: “The Making of the Atomic Bomb” by Richard Rhodes.
Q: Music or talk radio?
A: I like both. I’m usually listening to either NPR or KDFC, the local classical music station.
Q: What’s one website you visit on a daily basis?
Q: What was your first car?
A: A 1941 Mercury.
Q: If you could drive any car, what would you choose?
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A: I’d take anything that comes with a chauffeur.