Classic car shop applies general automotive repair's organizational management to 'run smooth as butter'

May 24, 2022
Once an owner who 'wore all hats,' Chris Holstrom lightened his load by giving his team members 'a game plan and getting out of their way.'

Chris Holstrom, owner of Chris Holstrom Concepts, has been in business for 11 years. Located in Puyallup, Wash., the shop team prides itself on providing quality service on classic cars, and it does everything with integrity. The community has a “small town feel” while being a part of a larger urban center, just shy of an hour away from Seattle. Puyallup means “generous people,” and Holstrom can attest to how accurate the name is. It’s a wonderful place full of kind people, some he’s known his entire life.

When he’s not at the shop, Holstrom can be found spending quality time with his family. He and his wife, Alyssa, have been married for 22 years. Together, they have three children, all under the age of 13. They can often be found spending time at their local church and helping out any way they can. Whenever they get the chance, the whole family will pack into their car for a road trip to explore the country. 

Chris Holstrom Concepts, DRIVE's May shop spotlight, originally started as a side hustle while Holstrom managed a general repair shop. When the day finally came to take the leap and go full time, it was just Alyssa and him, $6,000 in their bank account, and a lease signed for their new shop. Now, they proudly employ three office personnel and six technicians. Holstrom says he’s proudest of the fact that he “can step back and see that we've created a space where people are free to thrive in their talents.” 

The shop has also built several cars for the national stage, including SEMA and Barrett-Jackson. One of the best parts of being in the classics industry is being able to connect with others who love creating amazing cars. Within their small industry of custom car repair, they stand out because they get stuff done. By applying the organizational management of a general automotive shop to the classic car world, their shop runs smooth as butter. 

Before becoming a DRIVE client, Holstrom “felt guilty every time he asked for a day off from the job.” He wasn’t getting the freedom that was supposed to come with owning your own business. He spent many nights lying awake, wondering if his business was going to make it. Now, his shop basically runs itself and is profitable. His shop is well-functioning with procedures in place that work. They produce quality work in a timely manner. With the right people in place, he’s now able to execute any vision he pleases.

Holstrom enjoys building relationships with his fellow shop owners, and he says the best way to do it is at the DRIVE EXPO. While there, he heard testimonies from DRIVE clients receiving their master’s certification. They told their stories about the struggles they faced and how much better their day to day is now. Holstrom says, “Being a business owner is one of the loneliest professions out there. Employees think you are rich, customers think you can ‘help them out’, and nobody understands the struggles you face day to day. The networking allows a shop owner to feel like they are not alone in the struggles of running a shop.” 

His final advice for other shop owners? Put others in the position to make your shop successful. Holstrom says, “Give them a game plan and get out of their way!” When he first started the business, he "wore all of the hats”. Once he took a step back and let others do what they needed to, he found that his team members do their jobs better than he ever could! He loves being able to “stand back and be thankful for what everyone as a team can accomplish.”

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