My experience at Northridge 4×4 in Silverdale, Washington wasn’t perfect, but it was made perfect. Let me explain…
Northridge 4×4 – Why I Went
On the Poison Spider trail in Moab, Utah I busted my A/C hose. Actually it melted against my ARB Dual Air Compressor. So needless to say all of the refrigerant leaked out and we were without A/C for quite some time.
Momma wasn’t happy so this needed to be fixed.
For those new to the blog, I travel fulltime, currently on my 5th year of fulltime travel, and we were basically in the middle of nowhere from our time in Moab until I ended up making my way to the Seattle area.
While in Seattle, I asked some Jeep friends who they recommended for reliable work on my Jeep. Hands down, the recommendation that was most often given were the pros at Northridge 4×4.
This worked out well because I had been wanting to order an overlanding fridge for my Jeep anyway, and Northridge 4×4 carries the ARB 50 QT fridge I’d had my eye on. So I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone. Pick up my fridge in person, and get the A/C hose fixed.
And of course while I was there I’d figure out if there was anything else that I “needed” for my Jeep. You know, because Jeep life.
Northridge 4×4 – Getting There
The original Northridge 4×4 is located on the Kitsap Peninsula across the Puget Sound from Seattle, Washington. The Silverdale Northridge 4×4 is the first, and flagship, location of the brand. So you basically have two options if you are in Seattle. You can drive around to the peninsula but Seattle traffic sucks. Or you can take one of the Washington State Ferries across the Puget Sound and then make a short (and faster) drive down.
The ferries offer gorgeous views as you travel and they are cheaper than the gas it would take in my Jeep to drive around. So I opted for the ferry.
I’d called Northridge 4×4 and spoke with Carl, one of the newer hires at the shop. Carl was professional and cordial on the phone. They didn’t immediately have a space for me to get in, but I pleaded my case and told him that I travel fulltime and that we had a 19 month old. Carl relented and got me an appointment for the time that I was going to be in town. Big points for this! Thank you Carl!
Because Carl wanted me there first thing in the morning and I was catching a ferry in rush hour traffic, I got up at 5:15AM and started my day.
(For those curious, Northridge 4×4 actually has 4 locations. And a super secret warehouse in Kentucky… shhh… but it’s true! The locations in in the USA, are in Denver and Salt Lake City. For those north of the border, Northridge 4×4 has gone international, they have a location in Alberta Canada in the city of Ponoka.)
Northridge 4×4 – Arrival and Check-In
Driving through the Kitsap Peninsula itself is a gorgeous drive. The tall pines and winding roads make for a picturesque journey. I arrived early around 7:30AM and had to wait for the doors to open.
Arriving on at the Silverdale Northridge 4×4 location, you are immediately impressed by the facility. It is a large and spacious facility boasting a sizable showroom filled with a myriad of aftermarket Jeep goodies, a massive warehouse which is a Jeep lovers dream, and several bays filled with competent technicians.
I checked in with Carl around 8:15AM for the A/C hose replacement at the front desk.
While he was doing my paperwork, I took a quick walk around the showroom where the Dana 44 ARB Red Diff covers caught my eye. So I had them add front and rear diff covers to the ticket along with a synthetic oil change since I was there anyway. You know, because Jeep life.
I headed off to the waiting room which was pretty swanky and was told that I should be out of there by noon. This was great because I was hoping to go wheeling with a friend there on the peninsula later that day.
But that wouldn’t happen….
Northridge 4×4 – What Went Wrong
The A/C hose had been ordered by Carl and shipped. Unfortunately it was not shipped directly to the shop. We all make mistakes. I wasn’t mad, but frustrated as anyone else would be. Sadly this happened when I had other plans for the day. So Carl and the team scrambled to get the hose to the shop while the technicians started work immediately on my diff covers and the oil change.
I asked if they had a loaner Jeep so I could go grab a bite to eat, they didn’t. But to their credit they did offer to take me somewhere during the lunch hour with them if I was interested.
The work on the oil change and diff covers was done quickly and professionally. The technician took my Jeep out for a spin around some of the roads, came back and parked it and then checked for leaks.
The work on the oil change and diff covers was done before lunch so they handed me my keys since the A/C hose hadn’t arrived yet and I was able to head off to lunch in my own Jeep. I took about 45 minutes for lunch and came back to the shop.
The part still wasn’t there.
I was assured that the part was on it’s way and they would knock it out as soon as it came in. Meanwhile my Jeep buddy that I was going to wheel with called me up and told me he wasn’t going to be able to make it.
The part came in around 2:00PM and the Northridge 4×4 team went to work on my Jeep immediately. Carl kept me updated throughout the process and even took me on a tour of the facility to kill some time.
By the way, their warehouse is impressive. It is huge, about half the size of your average Home Depot.
They have most everything in stock, which accounts for the quick shipping that I’ve always received from Northridge 4×4 when ordering online.
Northridge 4×4 – The Talk
After our tour, while the A/C hose was being fixed I sat and talked with Carl in the waiting room about the situation. I told him that I wasn’t about pointing fingers (which I’m not) but that I was curious as to how they handle situations like this with their customers.
I explained the following:
- That I’d made the appointment ahead of time and was assured the part would be there in the morning.
- That I’d been asked to be here when the shop opened. Which I was. Meaning I got up at 5:15AM.
- That that the only thing that I was initially coming for was the A/C hose fix and to pick up the ARB fridge. So if I hadn’t of added the diff covers and the oil change that I literally would have been sitting in the waiting room from 8:15AM to 2PM before any work was even started on my Jeep.
Carl apologized about the part being delayed, the loss of the day, and took responsibility for the situation. He mentioned that he was one of the newest members of the Northridge 4×4 team.
This is the mark of professionalism in the industry: Honesty and taking responsibility to make things right.
Carl told me that he’d speak to his supervisor and he’d get back to me.
Northridge 4×4 – How They Made Things Right
A few minutes later, Eric J, the supervisor, came into the waiting room and sat with me. He explained that they handle each situation on a case by case basis. Eric also explained that they don’t have a specific policy, but that they will always make a situation right for a customer if they are in the wrong. During our talk he expressed that they’d do this for any customer regardless of the dollar amount spent or whether they were leaving a review or not.
Then Eric asked me point blank, “So how can I make this right for you? Can I knock off the labor cost?” I was a little shocked. Eric was basically offering to take a sizable chunk of change off my bill. I smiled and said, no we don’t need to do anything that crazy.
But Eric didn’t let it end there, he knew that I’d purchased an ARB 50QT fridge from them and I’d mentioned that I had been looking at the ARB Fridge Transit Bag (MSRP $134, Northridge 4×4 price $127.30).
Eric offered me the Transit bag as consideration for the day lost and threw in a Northridge 4×4 fitted ball cap for good measure. What?
Talk about retaining a customer and creating an evangelist for the brand! Thanks Eric.
Northridge 4×4 – Summary and Closing Thoughts
The team at Northridge 4×4 are pros.
The company started out with a father and son in a garage about 20 minutes from the Silverdale, WA location and has become a respected and recognized force in the off-road industry.
Did things go perfectly? No.
Did they make things right? Yes, and then some.
Would I recommend Northridge 4×4 to another Jeeper? No question!
If you are ever in Seattle, Denver, Salt Lake or even in Ponoka, Canada make sure you stop by and see these fine folks.
Though there was a small hiccup with my visit, the issue was handled professionally and promptly by Carl and Eric without excuses of any kind.
Bravo Northridge, we’ll be doing business again soon.
Until next time, keep it dirty and wheels side down.