September 21, 2015
LEAWOOD, KS (September 21, 2015) – CARSTAR Auto Body Repair Experts is pleased to congratulate Jeremiah Graham, owner of CARSTAR Jeremiah’s in Oklahoma City, OK, for being named one of SEMA News 35 Under 35 list.
The SEMA News 35 Under 35 list, now it its fourth year, presents 35 young trendsetters who bring ideas and renewed enthusiasm to every segment of the automotive specialty-equipment industry. In order to make the list, honorees must be nominated by one or more industry peers. Candidates who are making a significant industry impact through their leadership within their organization or business are then selected.
Graham is certainly an up-and-comer in the collision repair industry – and he’s moving fast. While he has more than 15 years of experience, he became a shop owner just over two years ago. Since then, he has quickly turned his shop into a top performer.
“When I found out, I couldn’t believe it,” said Graham. “I’m very flattered. I’m glad there is an award that recognizes the young guys. I feel like a young man in an old man’s world. This business takes a lot of experience and moxie. It’s not easy for a guy my age to get into body shop ownership. I applaud everyone out there who is doing this.”
In his short time as an owner, Graham has also been awarded the following recognitions:
• 2014 CARSTAR Rookie of the Year
• 2014 CARSTAR Marketer of the Year
• 2014 ABRN Top Shop Runner-up
• Recognized by CNN Money in a 2015 feature on top blue collar entrepreneurs
“Since Joining CARSTAR, Jeremiah Graham has quickly proven himself as a great owner,” said David Byers, CEO of CARSTAR Auto Body Repair Experts. “He is an owner that is truly plugged in to the business. He runs an efficient shop and is able to generate original ideas that really work.”
Graham started in the business at 18 when a neighbor offered him a job after recognizing his work ethic. By 25, he became the general manager. When the former owner decided to retire, Graham bought the shop’s assets and opened his own shop, becoming Oklahoma’s first CARSTAR location.
Graham has a fresh approach when it comes to running his business. His ability to think outside the box when it comes to not only his marketing efforts, but also they way his shop and office space is set up, has made a real difference in his success. He is an owner that truly “gets it” when it comes to all aspects.
Because he understands that word of mouth and repeat business are so important, Graham spends a lot of time focusing on customer experience. His philosophy is one of transparency and communication. His shop employs AutoWatch, so his customers can keep up with the progress of their repair with pictures and text messages. He is also a very hands on owner in the sense that he’s always around and engaged with what’s happening in his shop. Graham also has great relationships with his DRPs and vendors. His policy has been – “Treat us fair. Do the right thing for us, and we’ll do business with you.” When it comes to purchasing, he would rather pay for the right part or tool instead of saving money on the wrong thing.
Graham is similarly plugged in to his staff, making sure they have the tools and training that they need to do their job right. He offers I-CAR training, and hosts it in his shop to make it more convenient. He has also invited people from various companies like 3M and Lord Fusor to give one-on-one training with their products, and actual certification in some cases. Graham is always reminding his staff that things are always changing, and that they must stay current. He will not deny education for those who want to learn more about the industry. If they come to him about something they want to learn more about, he will do everything he can to get them more resource material or find out what it would take to get them extra training. Graham also pays for their training, and for their time while they’re in training. He also offers life insurance at no cost, and pays for short-term and long-term disability once an employee has gone through a trial period.
Graham is always looking ahead and trying to stay on top of current trends. When he sees the need to evolve and upgrade, he gets things accordingly. Each one of his techs also has his own lift. While the techs buy their own tools off the truck, Graham will help them if they need anything. He also buys tools to have available at the shop. He tries to find things that will make his techs be able to do their job better, or faster, or just not as hard on their bodies. As the need arises, he will get what the shop needs to help them do a better job and stay current with the industry.