In 1981, Mark Carr was working as a graphic arts salesman for a photographic mural company. He had recently moved to Houston from upstate New York and was experiencing some success in his role. Despite his success in the graphic arts industry, Mark still felt restless. He felt like he was built to be doing something different.
One night, while Mark was feeling particularly discontent, he prayed and asked God to provide him a business. The very next day, while Mark was attending a Sunday school function through Spring Branch Bible Church, a gentleman from his class walked up to Mark and mentioned that he was an automotive technician and asked Mark if he would help him start an automotive repair shop.
The two men did not know what to call this new venture, but were encouraged by their Sunday school class to call it Christian Brothers Automotive as they were two brothers in Christ. In August 1982, Mark Carr and his partner opened a complete automotive repair facility in Mission Bend, Texas (a suburb of Houston), and founding Christian Brothers Automotive Corporation (CBAC).
The business began with Mark as an offsite owner with his partner running the daily operations. After several years Mark was convicted to buy out his partner and come into the business as a full time owner and operator. The business excelled under Mark’s leadership; his customers appreciated the fact that Mark did not have typical industry experience, which allowed him to more closely relate to being a customer.
This was the beginning of two of Christian Brothers Automotive’s clear value propositions to the customer:
- Having the owner of the business onsite building relationships, and
- Ensuring that the owner is able to relate to the customers and serve them the way the owner would want to be served.
Christian Brothers Automotive thrived and in 1994, a friend, who saw the success Mark was having, approached Mark to help him open an automotive repair facility. Mark helped him locate and buy the property, hire the technicians and service manager, establish the vendor contacts, set up the parts department, select the equipment and inventory and guide him in the creation of accrual accounts for yearly expenses. It opened in 1996 and when the new business was a year old it had already surpassed Mark’s twelve year old location in annual gross revenue. Mark observed the friend’s business was out performing his because of the fast track training, robust systems and procedures and the location was demographically superior.
It was in this year, 1996, that Christian Brothers Automotive became a registered franchisor and began offering its franchise to interested people throughout Texas. Many of Christian Brothers’ first franchisees originated through Mark’s Sunday school class at Spring Branch Bible Church. These families or relatives of these families franchised the original 7 Christian Brothers locations in Houston, Austin and Dallas/Ft. Worth.
The popularity continued to grow and Mark began adding more people to the Christian Brothers team and people to the franchise family. Christian Brothers then grew into Tennessee, Georgia, Oklahoma and by the end of 2001 had 17 locations. More friends, relatives and now customers were learning about the Christian Brothers brand and wanting to be a part of the franchise movement and in the next 6 years the brand grew into the new states of Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi and Missouri and had a total of 50 locations. The home office of Christian Brothers had built up a significant professional team of 18 people to serve, support and lead the franchise family.
In 2008, Christian Brothers announced a growth initiative that would take the brand to approximately 200 stores throughout the southeast, lower midwest and southwest United States by the end of 2017.
Christian Brothers Automotive celebrated 30 years in business in 2012 and opened up store number 100 (New Braunfels, TX), two very significant milestones in the company’s history. By the end of 2015 Christian Brothers will have over 150 locations in 19 states.