Two brothers who grew up in Jefferson County and a former resident of Brooklyn, N.Y., have opened an auto-repair shop and car wash that is striving to be friendly — to customers, employees and the environment.
Chris and Mark Shamis and Mike Torres are the owners of Dakota Ridge Complete Automotive. The auto-repair business, at West Bowles Avenue and C-470, opened Oct. 27, and the car wash opened Nov. 23.
Torres, an animated man who moved to Colorado when he was 18, is co-owner and operations manager. He described the shop as “high end.”
“We don’t do economy,” he said.
Torres said his customers won't get the cheapest parts and service in town, but they'll find more integrity and quality.
"It's a quality rate,” Torres said. “Better than the chains, lower than the dealerships. It's good work and a fair rate."
The shop specializes in designing and building exhaust systems. "From stock applications to full-on racing, we can do that," Torres said.
Chris Shamis said he's proud to be working with Torres.
"We wanted to build something that was better," Shamis said. "We wanted the old-fashioned automotive repair shop that you grew up with."
Torres and the Shamis brothers are embracing environmentally friendly business practices.
The building has 110 solar panels on its roof, which will provide 15 percent of the shop’s electrical needs.
The shop also recycles every fluid that is drained from every car, and the car-wash water is reclaimed and re-used.
Chris Shamis said that washing the family car in the driveway — something he once loved to do — not only wastes water, it puts soaps and chemicals directly into the environment and the sewage system.
The average driveway car-wash session uses 100 to 150 gallons of water, Shamis said. The shop’s car wash uses 38 gallons of water per vehicle, half of which is recycled from previous washes.
"We would like to leave the world a better place than we found it," Shamis said, apologizing for the cliche.
Perks for employees
Torres said the shop is also designed to be more employee-friendly, which he said is uncommon in the auto repair industry.
"You shouldn't have to eat lunch on your toolbox," Torres said.
The shop has an employee area out back with a picnic table and a grill, and there's a break room inside.
Torres’ employees are South Jeffco residents, with every one of them living within 4 miles of the store.
"We are a small, community shop," he said.
Customers also a priority
Torres said he designed the shop to be customer-friendly: The waiting area boasts a flat-screen TV, free coffee and rides for people whose cars are out of service.
Torres said auto mechanics "don't have the greatest reputation. We rank somewhere with organized crime and going to the dentist."
Torres said the shop is one of 25 in the state to be certified as a NAPA Auto Care Colorado Select shop, a distinction that's not easy to achieve.
The focus on customers is designed to maximize the chances that the business will succeed in the current down economy. The shop’s owners recognize that repairing and maintaining older cars becomes a higher priority when consumers can’t afford to purchase new ones.
"People aren't really buying new cars, so they have to take care of their cars," Chris Shamis added.
And that goes for keeping vehicles squeaky clean as well.
"Car washes are not a luxury," Chris Shamis said.
Part of proper maintenance is keeping a vehicle clean, and the brothers say the car wash is priced fairly in light of its numerous features and their investment in environmentally friendly practices. The shop also provides a free vacuum with a wash and offers a 48-hour weather guarantee.
The brothers are also hoping that vehicle owners in the area will support a locally owned business. Both went to Bear Creek High School and attended Colorado State University. They operated an advertising agency for 10 years but sold that business three years ago. Now, after three years working with Jefferson County and contractors, their new business has finally opened.
"Opening up our first adventure, we wanted to keep it close to home," Mark Shamis said.
"Now that we're open, we're excited," Chris Shamis said.