April 2023 Our Story
AutoWerks was launched in January 1990, by partners and spouses, Charles (Chuck) Dinkel and Lorraine Laslett. By that time Chuck had years of experience both as a shop owner and as a technician working on import automobiles. Lorraine had years of experience working in art museums but had developed a love of fine automobiles from the driving and aesthetics point of view.
Chuck was born in Wisconsin but his stay there was short lived. The son of an Air Force officer, he moved many times before settling in North Carolina where he attended North Carolina State University. Lorraine was born and grew up in Fayetteville, NC. The daughter of an architect she grew up with an interest in art and received a degree in Art History from Vassar College. Work at the North Carolina Museum of Art brought her back to the state.
Chuck’s love of automobiles really began during his college years. In high school and in college Chuck was on the other side of the counter - trying to describe what he needed and to understand what work was being done. An understanding of the customer's view point was ingrained in him. The customer's only tonic for uncertainty is TRUST. Since he was in college pursuing a degree in Aerospace Engineering with a minor in Chemistry, he had an advantage over most repair shop customers.
From the beginning of college involvement with European car began in earnest (and a love affair with Corvairs ! Great cars, very poorly executed by GM). The crash of the Aerospace industry prompted delaying school to wait it out by appling hobby to a trade. Success!
Chuck completed his degree but by that time the AeroSpace Engineering business had not recovered and he was immersed in the study of the automobile and loved Raleigh. He helped establish a sports car club while at State and was a member of the Sports Car Club of America and Tarheel Sports Car Club. He participated in and designed time/distance rallies as well as autocrosses. He opened his first repair shop, Automotive Technical Services (AutoTech) in Raleigh in 1979 specializing exclusively in the service and repair of Italian cars. A limited future.
After a sojourn in Connecticut, Chuck and Lorraine relocated to Moore Co. in 1987 where Lorraine’s Mother was living. First position was lead tech for the local MB Service faintly and saw that the MB clientele was not being well cared for. They opened AutoWerks specializing in MB. They welcomed their daughter Julia to the world a few months later. While the area has changed significantly since then, it remains a welcoming community and a wonderful place to live and work. MB was the fundamental and primary marque, with BMW techs coming next adding others as the technicians came to us. The accumulated tools and diagnostic devices are tangible assets, the acquired body of knowledge is under-appreciated intangible asset. Chuck's is 53 years.
He continues with the philosophy that we only take on work that we know we totally understand and confidently advise and complete successfully.. The automotive trade is more a profession that incurs fiduciary responsibility. Backyard workshop with a shingle on the roadside is long gone.