Jaime Kopchinski, owner
As sales representative in the medical device industry, my father put a lot of miles on his cars. He has always taken so much pride in what he drives, which from the time I was 4 years old, has always been a Mercedes-Benz. To my family, Mercedes-Benz has always stood for quality, reliability, and longevity. At 300,000 miles, they still perform as they did when new. This concept of quality has been engrained in my understanding of automobiles and their useful life. Maintenance is key, i.e., preventing failures before they happen, doing the job the right way, and no cutting corners.
These concepts have stayed with me through my professional life. From my first Mercedes-Benz in 1998 at the age of 19, a 240D with crank windows and a 67 horsepower diesel engine, I set out to do maintenance and repairs the right way. With an engineering degree from Rutgers University, and several old rebuilt Mercedes already under my belt, I got my first job in the automotive industry in 2002. Naturally, the job was working with Mercedes-Benz cars: testing prototype radio and communications systems. I was the first full-time engineer dedicated to this type of work hired by Harman International, the parent company of Becker Autoradio, supplier of radios to Mercedes-Benz since the 1950s.
My responsibilities grew quickly, along with my understanding of what quality means, how to solve complex engineering problems, and how to build and manage strong teams. I hired engineers and moved my team into our own dedicated industrial space. Eleven of us tested prototype cars for Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Porsche, and Audi. We worked closely with our automotive customers, traveled to Germany on business trips, and hosted week-long testing events all over the United States. Eventually, I was hired directly by Mercedes-Benz to manage their US testing activities, and later by Jaguar Land Rover to setup a new testing team from scratch. The result of my work is in the dashboard of some of the most desirable luxury cars of the last 20 years.
Parallel to my professional career, I’ve continued fixing classic Mercedes-Benz automobiles. I’ve owned dozens of cars myself, fixing them up and selling them on to buy the next car. I rebuilt my first engine at 20, and with each subsequent project, I pushed the limit of my experience to learn more and solve increasingly more challenging problems. I have bought special tools, gathered documentation, and spent countless hours researching the theory of operation of the systems in these classic cars. In time, I also started cosmetically restoring my cars, not just functionally. Over the years, I have built relationships with people who share my passion and goals, such as specialized machine shops, metal refinishing shops, and rebuilders of electrical components.
As I started working on other people’s cars, my customer list of family and friends who collect classic Mercedes grew. Everyone has the same story: they can’t find anyone to properly service their cars. Word spread and the demand became overwhelming; it was time to start a full-time shop specializing in these cars...
And Classic Workshop was born!