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CARSTAR has many second- and third-generation owners and managers across the U.S. For Father’s Day, three CARSTAR families share their experiences and lessons learned from working together.
Father-Daughter Building Business Together
Gary Boesel, owner of CARSTAR Alpine Auto Body and CARSTAR Jordan Road Collision in Denver, Colo., is the manager for the Jordan Road location with stepdaughter Kelly Domer.
“As an entrepreneur, one of the things you plan for in your business is the opportunity to hand it down to the next generation,” said Boesel. “There are a lot of advantages, but trust is the number-one benefit. Knowing that Kelly always has the best interest of the business, employees and customers as a priority gives me great peace of mind.”
Kelly Domer said the mentorship from her stepfather has been essential to her career.
“Working together over the years has been so beneficial for me in my growth journey,” she said. “I have had a mentor to look up to, answer my questions and coach me through different scenarios over the years. Knowing that someone has my back 100% and only wants me to succeed is immeasurable.”
Boesel noted that he and Kelly have learned a great deal from each other in the nearly 20 years they’ve worked together.
“I’ve learned patience from Kelly,” he said. “I have realized it takes a long time to understand this business and teach the skills needed to be successful in this industry. She has taught me the value of being patient as she has learned and grown. I’ve also learned how to balance work life and family life. We only discuss business away from work if absolutely necessary. We try to do business during business hours, and respect family time when we are away from the shop.”
“I have been so fortunate to witness what an incredible leader looks like and have been fortunate to learn from one of the best,” said Domer. “Gary truly cares about every one of his employees. I have learned so many things over the years. I have been able to take those lessons and build an amazing culture that I would not have been able to do without his wisdom and guidance.”
Boesel and Domer have shared many proud moments and memories over the years.
“After taking Kelly to CARSTAR financial meetings for several years, I saw her command the information and develop the confidence to present the stores’ status to her peers,” said Boesel. “That was one of my favorite memories and a very proud moment to see Kelly earn the respect of fellow store operators.”
Domer said she is most proud of the recognition that Boesel has received and how he takes care of the team at their two locations.
“I have enjoyed seeing the recognition he has received over the years through various awards, especially Business Man of the Year from our local Chamber of Commerce” she said. “However, watching him address our staff at our annual holiday party and seeing how much he cares for everyone will forever stick in mind and my heart.”
More Than a Job When Family is Involved
At T&S CARSTAR Body Works Tempe in Tempe, Ariz., Austin Look is the service advisor in the location owned by his father, Scott Look.
“The best part of working with family is I get to be part of something more than just a business,” said Austin Look. “Coming to work every day, I have something to look forward to because I know that I’m helping my family each day that I’m here.”
He added that he and his father’s relationship has shifted from father and son to colleagues and friends.
“Working with my dad these last few years has been very fun,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot about myself and the industry, but I’ve learned even more about my dad as a person. Growing up, I only saw him as my dad, but now that we’re working together, he’s become a friend as well. To keep our work life and family life balance, we keep it simple – work stays at work.”
Look noted that while managing the business together through COVID was challenging, it was memorable.
“Every day is a new memory here working together,” said Look. “But my favorite memories were during COVID. We gave it our all every day. When we were leaving work at the end of one week, he looked at me and told me he was proud of what I was doing. That, by far, is my favorite memory.”
Family Business Means Family Time Together
At CARSTAR Wicklund in Liberty, Mo., three generations of the Wicklund family work side by side, keeping the family close across the ages.
“My father Bill was the first CARSTAR franchise location, and he and my mom Rochelle worked together to launch it,” said Gerald Wicklund, owner of CARSTAR Wicklund. “In 1985, my dad asked me to come back to work as an appraiser and continue the Wicklund legacy. I haven’t regretted this decision to continue in the family business. After school in the afternoons, my son Billy would measure the unibody/frame specs on vehicles with his grandfather. Although I encouraged him to work somewhere else after college, he came into my office and formally asked for a position here full-time.”
Gerald Wicklund said there are great benefits of working together, including communication and a shared focus on success.
“Working together, we can stay up to speed on what’s happening in our family without having to go to Facebook,” Wicklund joked. “Seriously, we have more communication opportunities and a common interest in the family business succeeding. Sometimes we have to work through the lunch hour and have the opportunity to share lunches, too.”
The family has learned through the years how to balance work life and family life and plan together.
“Family always comes first, even with our own employees,” said Wicklund. “We want them to have a life outside the workplace. We encourage employees to make sure to schedule family time and get it on the calendar, and we try to do that for our family as well. We also schedule time to discuss business planning for our family so we can work together toward the future. But we try our best to leave work at work to focus on our families.”
Three Generations at Work
Kyle Murray, owner at CARSTAR Port Orchard in Port Orchard, Wash., grew up in the business. His grandfather founded CARSTAR Bjorneby’s in Federal Way, Wash., then his uncle expanded the business. His mother, Wendy Bjorneby Murray, opened her own CARSTAR location a decade ago, and now he is carrying the tradition.
“There are many benefits of working together, as well as some difficulties,” said Murray. “But one of the greatest benefits is having a deep trust and understanding that we are all working together toward the same goal of producing the highest quality product with the best possible service.”
Murray said working with his family has taught him valuable lessons.
“Each person in our family brings their traits and skills to learn from,” said Murray. “The one underlying theme is that if you provide outstanding customer service, you will always have work in your shop. I have found this to be extremely accurate in this digital age of online reviews.”
Murray also shared that his family mentors have earned nicknames for their constant input, but always guide the family’s success.
“Work can be all-consuming if you allow it,” said Murray. “Fortunately, I grew up with my family preaching to leave work at work. When I go home. I leave my work behind and focus on being in the present with the people I am around. Having everyone in our family working together will be forever memories. My dad and uncle (Pat and Tom) have passed along a lot of their knowledge and thoughts, rightfully earning the nicknames of ‘Chatty Patty’ and ‘Talkin’ Tommy.’ But their insight and input have been invaluable to me.”
Success is Good for Business but Crucial for Family
Tim Tatman, owner of CARSTAR Tatman’s in Champaign, Ill., is the third generation to run his family’s business, and his sons are following in the family footsteps. Through working with all of his family, he has learned that when the family succeeds, so does the business.
“I enjoy working with my dad because he understands me better than just a ‘boss’,” Tatman said. “He understands my learning style and the best ways to motivate me. And he is always the first one to notice when I am frustrated and takes time to solve an issue I may be having.”
Tatman said his business education was passed down son to son, but that he brings a new perspective.
“I learned from my dad the same values that he learned from his dad,” he said. “There is great value in hard work and never giving up. Always treat the customer like family and you will always have work. Lastly, always give back to your community and show appreciation to fellow neighbors for helping you create a successful business. I like to think that I have taught my dad how to adapt to technology. I like to try to integrate it into our industry. Dad has always been very accepting and willing to try anything.”
The family business has provided great life lessons for Tatman over the years.
“Since my family has been in the business since before I was born, it’s just kind of been natural,” he noted. “At work, business is business, but around the dinner table, we try not to talk about it. I’ve always been taught that it’s nice to be successful in business, but it’s crucial to be successful with family. I always enjoy it when a customer comes in and tells me stories about past dealings with my dad or grandpa. I think I learn something new every week.”
CARSTAR prides itself on being a family of family businesses, and the Wicklund, Boesel, Look, Murray and Tatman families are just a few examples of how generations are working together to build success for the organization.