Family Collision Repair Business Named 2018’s First Small Business Winner 1/8/18 01/09/18 11:27:38 AM
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Carstar Collision Center, no stranger to awards, was honored in 2013 with BBB’s Integrity Award. Pictured from left are Mark Krzemien, Christi Krajeski, Darrin McGaughey, Andrea Heig and Ron Krzemien.
Family Collision Repair Business Named
2018’s First Small Business Winner
By Dan McCann
The Daily Record
Collision repair is a family tradition at Don & Ron’s CARSTAR Collision Center, the Greater Omaha Chamber’s first Small Business of the Month for 2018. Brothers Don and Ron Krzemien founded the shop in January of 1965 in south Omaha, driven by a shared passion for “building and re-building things.”
“They liked to do stuff with their hands. They liked to work on cars,” said Mark Krzemien, son of late co-founder Don.
Ron, 78, still comes into the office every day but is taking things easier. The second generation is helping to power the business now.
Mark and his cousins (Ron’s daughters), Christi Krajeski and Andrea Heig, are all involved in the full-service operation.
“We are strictly focused on collision repair,” Mark Krzemien said.
The business moved from south Omaha in 1969 to 70th and Q Street where the shop remains today. A newer customer care center opened at 72nd & Q Street more than two years ago. Krzemien said the Don & Ron’s team takes care to provide a higher level of service – and some much-needed peace of mind – to customers facing unplanned inconvenience and expense.
“We help people through some of the tougher times in their life. We want them to know we’re here to help, easing the pain of an auto accident by walking them through every step of the collision repair process,” Krzemien said.
He continued, “If they want to be contacted every day to be updated, we’ll call them every day. We want to keep them informed and make sure they’re 100 percent satisfied with the repairs. If you see something wrong a week from now, bring it back. We’ll take care of it.”
Krzemien said the Don & Ron’s customer service philosophy comes back to honesty, integrity and simply treating people how you want to be treated.
“We know our customers are the most important aspect of our business,” he said. “We can tell our customers that we’ve been in business for over 50 years and it’s not by ripping people off. We’re honest. We’re a trustworthy company. We know what we’re doing. Our customers can rest easy knowing we’re going to take care of them.”
As Don & Ron’s enters its 53rd year of business, Krzemien said it feels great to be recognized by the Chamber as its Small Business of the Month for January.
“We’re very honored,” he said. “The Chamber makes it easy to surround yourself with true professionals and a positive business environment and it drives you to excel in all aspects of the business community.”
Like the Chamber, Don & Ron’s has been proactive in emphasizing talent development. That is propelled, in part, by self-interest – finding qualified technicians is a challenge throughout the automotive industry. In an effort to expose more potential hires to collision repair, Don & Ron’s works with Metropolitan Community College, area high schools and Avenue Scholars, a nonprofit dedicated to connecting low-income students with high-skill careers. Once or twice a year, it brings students in for tours and job shadowing: “We have them follow the estimator. Then, we bring them to the body tech.”
Krzemien said a passion for working on cars is the first pre-requisite for building a career at Don & Ron’s.
“You have to get on the ground. You have to get dirty. On the other end of it, you have to know so much. There’s frame alignment; there’s high tech electronics and plastics. What you need to know is constantly evolving.”
In addition to being named the Chamber’s January Small Business of the Month, Don & Ron’s is a Best of Omaha Winner for 2016 and 2017, the Ralston Chamber of Commerce’s 2015 Business of the Year and a 2013 BBB Integrity Award winner. It prides itself on community involvement.
“We’re trying to make an impact and gain exposure as a small business by teaming up with the Salvation Army, for example,” Krzemien said. “The last couple of years, we’ve donated a car to the Salvation Army so they can use it in one of their outreach programs. Before that, we did that with the Women’s Fund of Omaha.”
As it looks to the new year and beyond, Don & Ron’s is determined to keep moving forward.
“We’re headed in the right direction, but we want to keep growing and keep improving. There is always room for improvement,” Krzemien said. “Momentum can take you so far, but you have to keep trying to improve yourself and improve your business.”
United Republic Bank sponsors the Chamber’s Small Business of the Month award. To nominate a small business online, visit www.omahachamber.org.
Nominees must be current Chamber members with 50 employees or less.