Douglas Kern is the original founder of Kern’s Muffler Shop on Hampton Avenue in Milwaukee. Born in Kosciusko, Mississippi to Robert and Zettie B. Kern, Douglas migrated to Milwaukee in 1960 seeking employment and independence. After arriving in Milwaukee, Douglas found employment as a dishwasher for $1.00/hour. However, the passion for cars always remained in Douglas’ heart.
Growing up, Douglas watched his dad as he worked on cars and developed a liking for automobiles. So in 1963, Douglas decided to enroll in the Milwaukee Vocational School to study to be a mechanic. This event kicked off a series of jobs that provided the vast experience that Douglas has displayed with Kern’s Muffler Shop. Some examples of Douglas’ experience includes Front End Alignment Mechanic at Goodyear (1964), Participant in class training at the General Motors Training Facility (1964), Front End Specialist for Star Wheel Alignment, Exhaust Mechanic at Midas, and Service Mechanic for JC Penny’s in Brookfield, WI.
Along the way, Douglas also developed critical relationships with some of the most influential mechanics in the city of Milwaukee, such as Russ Saks and Pat Steiner of Classic Muffler Shop, which is now owned by Kern’s.
After a series of employment with other companies, Douglas decided it was time to venture out and become an entrepreneur. This was the start of the legacy of the Kern’s automobile shops. Kern’s Muffler Shop was one of the first minority owned exhaust businesses in the city of Milwaukee. Although there were some challenges starting his business as a minority during those times, Douglas persevered and continued to rely on faith and the principle of hard work to grow the business into the successful enterprise it is today.
Although these days, Douglas is no longer involved in the day to day operations, he continues to be the cornerstone in the success of Kern’s by providing his mentor-ship, guidance, and support to the current staff.