Caring for the Family Car


Caring for the Family Car

By Jet Hall


When I met with Marty LaBarbera, owner of Christian Brothers Automotive, I was a little apprehensive talking to an auto repair shop. Based on my own experience, as of many others I’m sure, I have always felt intimidated about repairs on my vehicle. Mostly because all I know is how to put the key in the ignition and turn and start the car. Other than paying attention to the red maintenance light that pops on and gives me “stress” that the car is ready to die, that’s about it. No, I don’t know how to change the oil, change a tire, etc. I always felt that it was the “man’s” job to take care of the car. Well, things have changed. The stone-age is gone, independence has taken over. Although I do know how to check my oil and fluids, my knowledge of cars stops there.

Then I met Marty. A soft spoken gentleman that displays an inviting aura about him. As we began our conversation, I learned that Marty was a retired criminologist, with a very interesting career that I won’t go into at this time, but at a later date, and will be a great story to tell. That is all I can say for now. 

“So let’s talk about Christian Brothers”, I say to shift the conversation to the matter at hand. “When I retired, I was looking for a business that I could represent that had a good Christian work ethic behind it. I first found Christian Brothers in 2006. It is genuinely a Christian organization. I wanted that to come through in the business. A business that treats their customers like family,” he states. And that is the moto of Christian Brothers Automotive: Caring for the Family, Caring for the Family Car.  It is exactly how Marty feels. 

“This is God’s business”, he says firmly. He feels that this is his opportunity to show what a business looks like when God is in charge. And it shows. He operates with good Christ values and takes care of people. “If you take care of the people, the money will take care of itself. If you flip it around, and you start to focus on money, then you compromise your work ethic, and take advantage of people.” 

It’s not just customer service, it’s what’s behind the customer service, the genuine caring for the well-being of his customers.  “As an example, the common customer doesn’t know when a car needs something. We will explain the problem, but more importantly we will tell the customer what will be needed in the future or what to watch for. We never push people into something they didn’t come in for. We always do what they wanted originally, but at the same time, we take it upon ourself to check the vehicle out and make sure they drive away safe. Maintenance is always something we take care of for our customers. We always make them aware of what should be done. They are given a report of the status of their car. We keep that report on file, with the same technician. So your mechanic knows your car”. 

This I found to be quite unique about Christian Brothers Automotive. Customers have their own personal mechanic. Their car, their children’s car, all are treated with the same quality of care and expertise. This is why his customers return. They are an extended family to Marty.

Marty goes on to say, “We do not intimidate. We don’t impose the fear factor that many women seem to feel when dealing with some mechanics. We don’t have quotas to fill. Our only quota is to provide a customer with a vehicle that is safe on the road and earn their trust”. 

It is not just his customers, his staff are like family too. People who work with Marty, are long term. They have said “no shop is run like this”, they feel good about themselves when they go home at night. His influence has spilled over into the shop too. He noticed one day that there was no swearing in the shop, just something that the technicians seem to feel is wrong to do.

All of Marty’s technicians are master level technicians, not kids out of high school, so to speak. They are not just certified but skilled in their trade. Certification doesn’t mean you are a good mechanic, using your knowledge and applying it to your work is what counts. His technicians continue their education and are up to date on all the latest computer technology.

Christian Brothers Automotive used to guarantee their work at 2 years or 24 thousand miles, but has changed that now to 3 years or 36 thousand miles. They use high quality parts and stand behind their work 100%.

Christian principles and values are the thread of Marty and how he lives his life and runs his business. He partners with a local church to run a food pantry feeding over about 400 families. He works with Trinity Outreach House also. They have a residential house for women getting their lives back on track. Their biggest problem being no transportation for work. So when Marty has a customer with a vehicle they are ready to salvage or donate, Marty will take that donated car and fix it so that it is a safe vehicle and donate it to the Trinity Outreach House for one of their clients.

Another way that God works through Marty is National Service Day in October. He partners with local churches and does free oil changes, car repairs, etc., on a Saturday and Sunday. Some of his parts suppliers donate to the cause and Marty’s employees donate their time. Christian Brothers is not open on the weekend so his employees have time with their families, but they are moved just as he is to give back to the community.

And there are classes he gives to teach children of different ages about cars, basic info, especially helpful for the teenager that is getting ready to get their license and drive. Safety on the road is key. Another way Marty can give back to the community and keep people safe.

As I sat and listened and watched Marty speak about his love of his craft, his employees and customers, I knew he was genuine. His faith, his honesty and appreciation for life are all around him. It was also the only business I have been in that openly had a Bible in the waiting room. Before I left, he showed me his shop. Which by the way, there were hobby cars in his shop along with his dream car, a 1991 BMW. 

How lucky to be able to work with a company that matches your beliefs and your hobby!

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