Big results even for small businesses
Published Tuesday, May 16, 2023 at 6:10 p.m.
1 out of 5
Austin Man Wins Minority-Owned Business of the Year
by Amanda Lilly
When Jose Carrasco first opened West Auckland Auto Repair, all he wanted was to stay employed by doing what he loved. Now, 11 years later, the U.S. Small Business Administration has named him his 2023 SBA Minnesota Minority-Owned Small Business Award.
“We were just a few people trying to get busy and create jobs for themselves,” Carrasco said. “As time went on, we continued to grow. When I talk to other business owners and friends and see their reaction, it’s like, ‘Wow, this must be a big deal. “
Carrasco first immigrated to the United States from Mexico in the 1990s. He lived in Iowa for his first three years, but moved to Austin in 1999, where he worked in construction, quality work on his processors, and in a body shop. After that, I started working on more automotive work in my free time. time.
As his knowledge base grew, so did his interest in becoming a mechanic.
“Once I start working on it, I’m committed to it,” he said. “We are here now. Do what you want, and if you want to be successful, you need dedication.”
In 2012, Carrasco went independent and rented a facility to open the West Oakland Auto Repair Shop. His only employees at the time were his father and nephew. His father still works in the shop, as does Carrasco’s wife, and over time the number of part-time and full-time employees has grown to eight.
Carrasco credits much of the shop’s success to the team’s hard work and transparency with its customers.
When a customer brings in a car for work, Carrasco and his team take the time to explain what needs to be fixed, why it needs to be fixed, and the possible ramifications if the car isn’t fixed. To do.
“Once we know what’s going on with the vehicle, we’ll take a video or a picture and show them what’s going on with the vehicle. , so you can build trust with everyone,” he said. “Having the right team makes a difference.”
Carrasco, who had no business experience when he first opened, didn’t even know how to pay for the store’s rent. But customers were so impressed with his work that they kept coming back.
By 2016, he was already considering buying a building to house his store. During the purchase process, he raised a loan, but fell a little short. That’s when he turned to the Austin Development Center (DCA) for help.
“In 2017, we were finally able to move to a new location, which included the addition of a professional paint booth, which was obtained thanks to funding from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF).” he said.
Ultimately, SMIF is the organization that nominated Carrasco’s business for the SBA’s Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year Award.
Carrasco said he was always happy to ask questions about the business side of his store, especially after discovering the business resources available through organizations such as DCA, SMIF and SBA.
“We’ve always been asking questions about finances,” he said. “We got help from these foundations. This is probably the biggest thing we’ve encountered.”
Carrasco is also not afraid to question other executives, even if they are considered competitors.
“Help is always there. If I need to ask or stop at another store, that won’t stop me, I’ll just go in and talk to someone,” he said. “It’s opened a lot of doors for me. I don’t see others as a competition. If I don’t understand something, I have to go ask.”