Consumers are more aware these days of faith-based or faith-friendly companies, from Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A to Tyson Foods and Marriot.
One of the fast-growing chains embracing such values is Christian Brothers Automotive, based just outside Houston. The first Washington state franchise for the auto repair business opened this week in Liberty Lake.
Franchise owner Kris Kramer grew up in the Coeur d’Alene area, went to high school in Hayden Lake and now lives in Rathdrum.
“They were gracious enough to let me have a franchise kind of in my backyard,” Kramer said.
He said his goal reflects the corporate heritage. “For my wife and I, you might say this is the epitome of what we’ve wanted to do for a long time – be that light in the community, help others,” Kramer said. “Unabashedly, we are a faith-based operation, so my wife and I see this as our ministry in the community.”
The Liberty Lake shop is the 161st Christian Brothers location. The company set a goal of reaching 200 locations this year. Most shops are in Texas and the Midwest, but they have been creeping westward, with locations now in Meridian, Idaho, and Billings.
Liberty Lake is a growing, vibrant community with a large number of commuters from Spokane and North Idaho who travel there for work, Kramer said.
“A lot of people work here, and we provide free local shuttle service. It’s an opportunity to be convenient for the customers who are probably at work,” he said.
Most of his previous career with Farmers Insurance was spent in auto claims, and he also worked for Fix Auto USA, a collision repair franchising company based in San Diego. Both helped prepare him for starting a business in auto care, he said.
The shop, which opened with a service manager and three technicians, provides mechanical repairs for all auto lines, but it does not do collision work.
Christian Brothers opened its first store in 1982 and began franchising in 1996.
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