Mike Harlan didn’t grow up with the dream of owning his own automotive repair shop. In fact, he completed his undergraduate degrees in Biology and Chemistry in 1989 and began the process of applying for Medical School before he realized his love for cars. He didn’t go into this challenging industry because he had no other options. He chose it because he had a genuine love for the trade. His start in automotive repair begins with his own personal story – as a young man who needed a car and who would go to great lengths to make it work.
Mike got his first car, a 1973 Chevrolet Camaro, in 1985. He knew the car well, but it had been a few years since he had seen it. It was his good friend’s car when they were in high school. Mike used to help change the oil and make other minor repairs during high school when his friend needed an extra hand. But the years went by and the two parted ways for college, until his friend called him and asked Mike if he would be interested in buying the old Camaro. Mike couldn’t refuse. He paid the money and went to the garage where the car was housed. When he saw it, he was a little shocked. The car was in several rusted pieces, far from the old image he had in his mind and far from the simple fix he expected. But he knew the car was worth it, so he began the slow process of piecing his dream together.
While working on his dream car in his spare time, Mike realized that he was skilled in automotive repair and he enjoyed the technical challenges it presented. While working at a local factory during the day, he began working on a side business at night, calling it Harlan Automotive, and working out of his in-law’s backyard shop. In 1998, Mike quit his safe factory job and started Harlan Automotive full time on the outskirts of town on 4th Street in Murray, Kentucky. Now, years later, Mike still enjoys his favorite hobby as a full time career. It’s the best move he’s made yet.