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  Shop Profile

Young Couple Finds Innovative Ways to Service Cars

Posted 6/15/2006
By Lisa McReynolds

Through extraordinary customer service and professionalism, Peak Automotive raises the bar for automotive excellence.

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Kim and Brian host the "Business After Hours" get-together to celebrate the opening of their new shop in Raleigh, N.C.
Sophisticated yet comfortable. This describes the type of service Brian and Kim Walker of Peak Automotive in Apex and Raleigh, N.C., have provided since 2002.

Brian's love for car repairs began in high school when he had to keep his own car running. "I realized I was pretty good at doing that and I really enjoyed it," he said. "That's when I decided to become a technician."

Brian attended Universal Technical Institute in Houston. He later obtained his ASE master, L1 and service consultant certifications. He also gained Mercedes-Benz Master technician status while working for two Mercedes-Benz dealers. In addition, Brian earned an associate's degree in automotive and diesel technology.

In 2002, Brian and Kim opened their first shop - Behind the Star Inc. - in Raleigh, N.C. They outgrew the Raleigh store and moved the shop to Apex, N.C., in 2004 where they renamed their business, Peak Automotive, getting inspiration for the shop's name from the town of Apex, which is known as the "Peak of Good Living."

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Peak Automotive has serviced the Apex, N.C. area with extraordinary customer service and professionalism since 2002.
From the beginning, Peak Automotive has gone out of its way to give its customers the professional service they deserve. For example, to help ensure quality service, it is mandatory that all technicians and service advisers who work for Peak Automotive be certified by the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). It is because of this that ASE recognizes Peak Automotive as a Blue Seal of Excellence repair facility. The Bosch Corporation also selected Peak Automotive to be a Bosch Authorized Service Center for the high-quality level of parts and appropriate diagnostic tools used.

"My goal is to make Peak Automotive the most competent, honest and ethical shop in the industry," Brian said.

Peak Automotive's professionalism and appearance make it a unique business in the automotive industry. The sophisticated appearance of the shop begins with the service advisers. Dressed professionally, they work with the customers in a friendly and caring manner.

The lobby and waiting area are designed to make customers feel at home. Here, they can relax on comfortable sofas and enjoy a snack while waiting on their repairs.

"Peak Automotive has been called the most female-friendly shop in the Triangle - which consists of the Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill areas," Kim said.

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A customer relaxes in a massage chair located in the waiting area of Peak Automotive's Raleigh Shop.
Peak Automotive's unique marketing strategies include service after-the-sale programs and community involvement with local Chambers of Commerce and Business Networking International (BNI) groups.

Not only do Brian and Kim work "on" their business, they work on their leadership. They have both been involved in management and training programs to strengthen their leadership in the industry. Brian and Kim are now working with Hero Joyner, executive director of the Automotive Service Association (ASA) of North Carolina, to launch a new local chapter in 2006. Peak Automotive was contacted at the end of 2005 to lead this project.

In April, Peak Automotive opened a second location, a 4,500-square-foot shop, in Raleigh. The facility features the same great service and professionalism as the Apex location, say its owners. With a modern look, the Raleigh location caters to waiting customers by offering refreshments, a comfortable couch and even a massage chair for relaxation. "It has been referred to as the 'Taj Mahal' of auto repair by one customer," Kim said.

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Service advisers Jordan Russ (left) and Michael Doherty are the first to greet Peak Automotive customers and make their experience at the shop the best it can be.
Just from the design of the new shop, Peak Automotive has reached its customers in unique ways. But the outreach doesn't stop there. Brian and Kim both love to learn new things and work with people. In 1999, when Brian and Kim moved to North Carolina from their native home in southeastern Louisiana, they found many ways to get involved in their surrounding communities. In 2005, for Teacher Appreciation day, Peak Automotive gave doughnuts and free car wash certificates to teachers in Apex schools.

After Hurricane Katrina damaged parts of their native Louisiana, Brian and Kim immediately gave their assistance. They worked with various groups and individuals including a third-grade class (taught by the wife of one of their technicians, Josh Tillery) at Jones Dairy Elementary School, Shepherd's Vineyard in Apex, Robin and Craig Boudwin and many others to collect two tractor-trailers of supplies for hurricane victims. The two trailers, from Conway Trucking, were shipped to Prairieville, La., where the goods were distributed from a warehouse. In September, Brian and volunteers from their local church went to Gretna, La., for a week to assist others in the cleanup after Hurricane Katrina. At Christmas, Brian and Kim adopted a family from Waveland, Miss., that was affected by the hurricane, and were able to raise $950 with the help of a BNI chapter for the family. To see photos of their efforts to assist Hurricane Katrina victims, go to www.Peak-Automotive.com.

Kim and Brian say personal drive, determination and high expectations are the source of Peak Automotive's achievements. Looking ahead, the couple's goal for their business is to have three shop locations in the Triangle area and to increase their team members by the end of 2010. They plan on becoming more involved in their community through working with other organizations. By exceeding its customers' expectations for a high level of service, Peak Automotive continues to deliver exceptional automotive repair service to its communities.

Shop Stats

Name: Peak Automotive
Location: Apex and Raleigh, N.C
No. of employees: 12
Average number of repairs per week: 45/per shop
Projected annual sales volume: $1.5 million
Web site: www.Peak-Automotive.com
On what they like best about their job: Kim: “ I love working with people, having creative ideas in marketing and getting to know our customers.” Brian: “ Working on cars is something I'm very good at and love to do. The challenge of becoming a businessman has proven to be rewarding.”

Lisa McReynolds is ASA's Web and communications specialist. She can be reached at (800) 272-7467, ext. 229, or by e-mail at lisam@asashop.org.

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