Open for Business: Chapman’s Automotive keeps community rolling
CRAIG — After more than 25 years of helping customers in Craig get in gear, JB and Paula Chapman, owners of Chapman’s Automotive, look to keep going for years down the road.
JB’s parents, Carl and Fredonne, founded the business in 1985 after multiple ventures in the auto industry. Carl began working at Craig Conoco in the 1950s and later co-owned Valley Chevron starting in the mid-1970s.
JB said his father sold that business in 1984 to try out early retirement, which didn’t suit him. A year later, Chapman’s Automotive was born. JB’s role in the company was initially small, helping out in 1987 before spending seven years with Farm Bureau Insurance.
In 1994, his parents approached him about taking over the family business. Admittedly, JB had minimal experience with cars — at least at first.
“I started out in the oil and service bays and worked into more and more of the sales side,” he said.
By 2002, his parents had fully retired and given the couple the keys.
“By then, we had changed a substantial amount of focus over to mechanical repair and maintenance,” JB said.
A small staff includes five employees focused on auto repair and two service advisers.
JB said he has an appreciation for the advanced training now available in the auto world, as well as for the aptitude that develops with hands-on learning.
“Training like that lays a great foundation,” he said. “Many times, we think once we have great head knowledge, we can accomplish great things, but there’s a lot of experience involved. There’s a lot of learning through hands-on. You can’t bypass that. You can have the knowledge, take tests, have credentials, but if you don’t have the ability to actually perform it, that’s what truly advances someone to being a master in their field.”
JB noted that a long period of learning the ins and outs with his parents helped him greatly. While elements of the business have changed — such as a new reliance on social media to communicate with clients — many of the core principles remain the same.
“Regardless of what industry someone’s in, if they love helping people and building relationships, they can do anything. You can learn anything,” he said.
Paula said there are several traits she hopes people equate with the business and its representatives, though trust is chief among them.
“I hope people see a sense of honesty and integrity,” she said. “We never want to advise someone to buy something they don’t need, and I hope they know our sincerity and commitment to them.”
Though it’s been more than a decade since he completely took over the business, JB said his father left “big shoes to fill” as an “icon” of the area.
“Someone who served the community like he did with the fire department, City Council, Lions Club, all of that — you do have a great responsibility to build off that and serve, as well,” he said.
Service in day-to-day operations, combined with other community endeavors, is what makes the job rewarding for the Chapmans.
“It’s a challenge, sometimes, but it’s such a neat experience to be a part of the community and be able to serve the people around you,” Paula said. “We’ve been truly blessed to serve our community.”