Henry Miller at Phoenix Chevron station
Henry Miller at his original Standard Oil station.

The beginnings of H&M Motorworks started over 45 years ago. In 1967, Henry Miller ran a Standard Oil station on the south-east corner of 16th Street and Indian School Road. This may not have been Henry’s first automotive shop, but it would become the foundations of H&M as it is known today, with many of the same customers from that time still coming to H&M Motorworks to this day. Although the station was in alignment with the Chevron Corporation to sell their gasoline, it was Henry’s additional business of automotive repair that really earned a name for himself over the next decade. Both Henry’s clients and Chevron recognized the station was exemplary, and Henry won many awards from the Arizona chapter of the Chevron Corporation for both customer satisfaction and sales. Henry led a powerful and trustworthy business.

Henry Miller receives Chevron Corporate Award
Henry receives an accolade for customer service by the Chevron Corporation.
Henry Miller and nurse chat inside shop
Henry and a resident nurse from the Indian Hospital chat inside the shop.

Toward the end of the 1970s, this only grew further as Henry’s son Mark joined the team. Mark started working for the shop full-time almost as soon as he graduated high school, taking a brief pause as he undertook college business courses. By his early twenties, however, Mark was soon in charge of most of the day-to-day operations of Henry’s Standard Oil station, and many customers and friends soon began to know the station as being run by both Henry and Mark Miller.

Over their time at the corner of 16th and Indian School, Henry and Mark grew quite comfortable, well-known, and well-liked, their customer base was proof of that. Many customers to Henry’s Standard Oil station became friends as well, whether it was the nurses from the nearby Indian Hospital, or the person off the street who just stopped by for gas and a funny noise under his hood. Things were doing well as they were, and if things aren’t broke…

However, as the 80s came and went on, and newer technologies were introduced, the Chevron Corporation decided to change the business strategy they had went with in the previous decades. Where before Chevron applauded the customer service and patronage that Henry and Mark had earned, Chevron was looking to close the full automotive service aspect of the station and transform it into a “Twinkie store” — the style of 24-hour convenience store one sees about town today.

The station at 16th Street and Indian School Road
The original station not long before the move to North Phoenix.
Having always wanted to truly own their own business, Henry and Mark were never personally satisfied with their agreement with Chevron. They enjoyed servicing cars and they enjoyed the clientele they had earned the trust of over the previous twenty years; continuing at the 16th Street and Indian School location would mean an end to that. So, in 1987, Henry and Mark recognized the opportunity that had presented itself, and decided to leave their location and buy their own automotive shop in North Phoenix. They found a shop with a reputation of being a classic Volkswagen repair facility called Mike’s Place for sale off Cave Creek Road, just south of Greenway Road.
H&M Motorworks as Mike's Place
The original look of H&M, as Mike’s Place.
Mark Miller looks over Mike's Place
Mark Miller looks over the facilities at Mike’s Place.
H&M Motorworks as Mike's Place
The office entrance to Mike’s Place.

Though, Mike’s Place was just a shabby cinder-block building with no real finished touches, Henry and Mark saw the potential the building and location held, and decided to purchase it. With the new location, building, and added clientele, Henry and Mark chose a name to show that this truly was their business, and the name they chose was, aptly, H&M Motorworks.

Henry and Mark always lived by two decrees at the Standard Oil Station: 1) no body work, and 2) no Volkswagens. However, with Mike’s Place being an almost exclusive Volkswagen repair facility — with a body repair shop renting space in the back of the property, no less — Henry and Mark decided to give up their second oath, and began to learn all the ins and outs of Volkswagens in order to welcome Volkswagen owners to H&M along with all the other automobile owners they had worked with before.

Henry and Don in the Office, February 1999
Henry Miller and Don Gard in the office, February 1999.
Henry in the rod shop
Henry and the H&M Motorworks Rod Division, October 2001.

In fact, over the next 10 years, it would be the Volkswagen owners of the Valley that would prove to be the most loyal to H&M, and the cause for H&M’s reputation for being one of the leading Volkswagen specialists in Arizona. The quality of work at H&M was the same as it had always been at Henry’s Standard Oil Station, but now with such a strong Volkswagen presence, the services offered at H&M quickly grew to reflect that.

With the inherited equipment, inventory, and clientele from the purchase of Mike’s Place, H&M could now offer motor and transmission rebuilds, brake services, clutch replacements, electrical diagnostics, and many more services specific for air-cooled Volkswagens. However, unlike many other shops in the Valley, H&M could do all of this on-site. Whereas many shops did not have the knowledge or means to service Volkswagens fully, H&M became synonymous with them. In fact, Henry and Mark were doing so much motor work for Volkswagens, that they decided to stop renting the back building on the property, and opened a division dedicated to remanufacturing Volkswagen connecting rods. This rod division would be run by Henry, leaving Mark to be the face of H&M Motorworks.

Mark Miller removes a hubcap
Mark removes a hubcap to begin a brake system service.

Life like this would continue for the next 10 years or so, with a strong Volkswagen clientele, and specialized services for classic Volkswagens readily available. Things, however, began to change for H&M in the early 2000s. Over a period of several years, the once dedicated and loyal Volkswagen crowd thinned and almost died out completely. Where Mark used to sell 3-4 new motors to Volkswagen Beetle owners every month or so, that figure fell to 3-4 a year. It wasn’t just H&M noticing the decline, either, talks with parts suppliers and other repair shops showed that the demand from classic Volkswagens owners had almost disappeared altogether. However, filling the place of the classic Volkswagen clientele were customers just as loyal, but that drove the latest models of Audi, BMW, Ford, Honda, Nissan, Toyota, new hybrid vehicles, and many other manufacturers. Where H&M had previously been synonymous with vintage cars (particularly Volkswagens), H&M was now servicing the latest cars with much more advanced technology. With this shift in customer-base, H&M’s services once again evolved to reflect demand. Technology at H&M changed to meet the needs of customers, and brought the shop into the 21st century.

In 2004, the “H” in H&M Motorworks, Henry Miller, retired, and H&M’s Rod Division was subsequently closed. After building his reputation in Arizona for over 40 years as a competent and caring mechanic, Henry decided it was time to leave the business solely to his son. Although Mark had been the primary force behind H&M for quite sometime, Henry was no longer going to be a presence at the shop, as he retired to his cabin in Northern Arizona.

With both Henry and Mark having a reputation over the last 40 years in the Valley, Mark looks to further evolve H&M Motorworks. Having one of the best teams at the shop in many years, Mark has not become complacent. Constantly adding new technologies to the shop, utilizing new forms of advertisement, and having a facelift for the building in the works, H&M is no longer the small service station its roots are based in, or the shabby cinderblock building it used to be. For the last 20 years, you have trusted H&M Motorworks to be your family-owned and -operated repair facility, and it is determined to continue to be just that for the next twenty.

H&M Motorworks, June 2007
A typical day at H&M Motorworks, June 2007.