“Being a Community Auto Repair Shop: How Al Oramas and His Team Give Back”

Being a community auto repair shop is central to Al Oramas’s work as a shop owner. Learn how Al and his team give back both in the bays and well beyond the shop doors.

Al Oramas and team
Al Oramas and his team

Being a community auto repair shop is central to Al Oramas’s work as a shop owner. Learn how Al and his team give back both in the bays and well beyond the doors of the shop.

My daughter had been working at my other shop location when that customer stopped by, a woman who was maybe mid-to-late thirties. Had her kids with her. Her car had a lot of problems. My team was about to be the bearer of bad news. 

Her kids were a bit anxious, so my daughter suggested that she go wait at the McDonald’s next door and have a meal. But the woman stayed. 

As my daughter worked with the managers of that shop, she sensed that this woman was extremely stressed. So, being the person she is, my daughter started talking with her. She asked her how she was doing, trying to get her to open up. 

“I’m having this problem with this car, and on top of everything else right now, it’s just too much,” the customer said. 

“I’m really sorry about that,” my daughter replied. “Hopefully, we’ll find a solution. Anything you got going on, anything we can help with?” 

“No, not really at this point. Just know that I appreciate you asking. It's just been a rough month for me.”

Then she started getting teary-eyed. 

“It’s ok, it’s totally ok,” my daughter comforted her. “I can be a friend to talk to.” 

“My husband just died,” the customer said. “He would bring his car here. And now I have the car here for you guys to work on. I’ve got two kids. He died unexpectedly. Everything’s a whirlwind right now. We don’t even have the money to do what we need to do to have a burial for him.” 

My daughter realized that the burden of the car repairs on top of everything else this woman needed to take care of was just too much. No one should ever have to deal with all of that. 

So she called me and told me what was going on. 

“What do you want to do?” I asked.

“Dad,” she cried, “Can we just fix her car for her? We can get her back on the road because she needs to get rolling. She’s got to deal with personal stuff. And then can we get her back to do the other repairs that need to get done? Can we just take care of her?”

So I turned to my team and told them what’s going on, told them what my daughter had asked of us. 

“Is everybody in agreement with that?” 

“Yeah,” they all chimed. 

So I told them to call the vendors and get rock bottom prices on the parts. We’d cover the additional costs for the parts, cover all the labor, and get her back on the road. 

It was an important moment for all of us. It made business come down to the human level. Obviously, shops need money to run. But we saw, with our own eyes, that there’s a greater value in our work than just selling parts and labor.

We help customers in tough situations every day, and not just at the two shops. We make time outside the shops, too. Giving back to the community is a big part of what we do. It’s one of the best parts of the job. We view ourselves as a community auto repair shop. 

Sometimes, we just hear about people who need help with their vehicles. Recently, we heard about a local church whose vehicle had been vandalized. They needed some community auto repair. The windows were busted out, and the vehicle wouldn’t run anymore, so the church couldn’t use it. We arranged the transportation and covered the cost of all the services. We put in new windows, a fresh battery, and checked all of the fluids, too.

We also help out in ways that go beyond turning wrenches. We adopted a local organization here in Colorado called Freedom Service Dogs, which connects service dogs with first responders, veterans, and those who suffer from PTSD or epilepsy. They bring the adoptable dogs to show them off at the event while the employees get to kick back and play a few rounds of golf. Last year, we raised over $3,000 for them and our goal this year is $5,000. We’re actually coming up on our fifth annual golf event. It’s something we’re really proud of. 

Some of the stories of what these dogs can do really tug at your heartstrings. I mean, you listen to these stories and just wipe your tears. 

There was a marine corps guy who would clear houses overseas. He would go in and make sure to clear them out before other people went in. When he transitioned into civilian life, his PTSD meant that he couldn’t walk into his own house. He had to call up his friends to meet him and be there with him as he walked in. So, this organization connected him with a dog that was trained to do that for him. The dog goes inside first, sniffs out the situation, and clears the house for this veteran so he can go in.

We’re also passionate about supporting a local women’s shelter. We fund their campaign drives. The women there have been through a lot in life. We recognize that and do what we can to help them. 

We’re involved in education as well. We give scholarship grants to students at the local community college. Also, I sit on the ASA board, where one of the things we do is support future professionals with their education. We grant students scholarship dollars. These students are the future of the auto repair industry. 

We always have our eye on other nonprofits we want to support as a team. We have a growing list of organizations we’d like to help on our radar. 

We have a bunch of brainiacs on my team and there’s nothing they can’t do to help people out. They can build homes, fix stuff, raise money, you name it. So we are always looking at that, at what else we can do to help out.

We’re in the business of fixing, and not just cars. We’re a community auto repair shop. We can’t snap our fingers and fix everyone’s problems, but we can play a small part in helping them get where they need to go. 

For more information on Al’s shop and his team, check out  Pro Auto Care.

Want to read more about Al’s story? Pick up more auto repair shop wisdom from Al on how he turned getting fired into the best thing that ever happened to him and how he developed his seven principles for how to run an auto repair shop. 

Want to meet another one of the leading auto shop owners in the Tekmetric community? Pick up more auto repair shop wisdom from Tekmetric Community Leader Mike Collins.