There are people you just get a good feeling about. Good on their word, inability to be anything but transparent. Honest, hard-working, fair.
Meet Phillip Brown of Brown Auto Repair in Waco!
We had a chat about what makes Brown Auto the place to be in Waco (when your car’s fill-in-the-blank goes out). Customer-focused and seriously good for a laugh, enjoy what we learned from Phillip + Brown’s below!
(PS - You’ll have to ask him direct about the famous people though!)
What sets Brown Auto Repair apart?
Most of my customers are clientele I've dealt with for ten to 17 years.
When I was working for other shops, they were customers there. I went out on my own and a lot of them followed me. And that's just because they like my work. They trusted me. We don't have that typical stereotype of your JiffyLube or something. We're a family family-owned business. Most of my business has come off of word of mouth, a friend telling a friend.
I hear you're one of the nicest guys around. Is that true?
“OH! Well, depends on who you ask!” he laughs, “But yeah, I mean we try to treat everybody fair. You must be reading my reviews.”
(I wasn’t, but it caused me to want to!) Here’s a peek at a Brown Auto Repair customer review:
“First time but will be my go-to place for now on. The team is friendly and willing to go the extra mile. They treated me with the best care and the price was amazing. It was one of those shops that when you pay you know you got your money’s worth. How many other shops can you say that about? Again, thank you for your speedy help in a time crunch.” Armando R., 10/24/18
Where are you from?
“I've been in Waco all my life.”
I ask Phillip about Brown’s pricing, compared to other businesses in the area. He lets me know without meaning to let me know they are significantly under what some are charging, and a little cheaper than everybody else. He called it a “very competitive rate.”
I get the feeling this place is capable of handling the city’s trust. Oddly enough, Brown Auto does handle the region’s trust:
“We do all of the service work for the Department of Public Safety, the DPS, around here. The State Troopers.”
That’s when Phillip opens his figurative files and shares about how he’s worked on the vehicles of some seriously famous people – ”but don’t add that in there!” he says after each story. It’s good to know the man’s integrity continues beyond the hood of the car, unless you’re writing this article!
How’d you start Brown’s anyway?
I bought it from Danny Dennis. He was here, shoot, since the 70s, built a new building in the 90s, and then he retired and that’s when I bought the business from him.
Well, actually bought the building and the property; I didn't buy the clientele or the name. I built the clientele.
Will you share a story with us?
“Yeah! There was a gentleman here last year. He was traveling from Austin to Dallas. He was actually entered in the Major League Baseball draft and he was trying to get from Austin to Dallas to be there for the draft and his alternator went out here in Waco.
It was about 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon when it went out. He pulled up, was freaking out because-- (Phillip chuckles as he remembers) he was trying to go to the major leagues on draft day and his alternator went out!
I was able to have the part sent to me and we stayed, oh, about an hour and a half two hours after close. Got him going just so he could get to where he needed to be.”
That’s certainly very kind.
“And, you know, I don't want to do that every day but, he was appreciative of it. He told me when he made it big and famous he'd give me a spot on the radio.”
Have you followed him at all?
“No, I don't know where he's at. I know what his name was but I don't know - you know how baseball players are; there are thousands of ‘em so it's hard to make it.”
But he did get a great alternator, right?
“He got to do his draft.”
(Straight to the point, sir.)
“There was another gentleman who’d been through Hurricane Harvey. They were flooded out and he had a vacant rent house in Fort Worth they had been meaning to do some work on, so he and his family loaded up an RV and traveled there.
In the meantime, his truck that he pulls the RV with, the clutch went out while he was in Fort Worth. He had a clutch put in by another shop. He was coming down 35. They didn't tighten some stuff up on the driveshaft and driveline and it threw all of that out of the truck.
He got his truck and RV towed to me, we parked the RV in our yard for about three days. The Dodge parts had to come out of Detroit, Michigan so we were waitin' on parts. He had a cruise scheduled, so he left all of his stuff here after they stayed a few days in the parking lot and they went to the cruise and when they got back, we had his stuff ready and he came and picked it up.
There are a couple of instances where people are just like, 'What do I do?!' Like I say, it's not what you want to do but, you kind of put yourself in their shoes and you kinda gotta-- well, I like to do what's right and that's what we did.”
Wow, that’s really over and above.
“We try to take care of our customers and like I say, I'll probably never see the guy again. But you know, it got him on his way. It ain't all about money and repeat customers because good things will come back to you.”
What does it mean to you when someone chooses to shop local vs. going to a chain?
We give them a personal relationship. I mean, I'm here answering the phone. I’m talking to the customers every day; it's not a guy that's hired off and paid to do that. This is my business and I'm here every day and that's what sets us apart from a chain or somebody that just is there for the money.
I didn't get into this to be rich or become rich because you're not going to. I got into this because I was a mechanic for many years and I didn't like what I seen people doing to just common folk, taking advantage of them and just-- the upselling, telling them they need all their fluids changed when they didn't. I got tired of seeing that, I was able to do my own thing, and here we are.
Been doing it so long, I really don't know anything else other than maybe cowboyin'.
If you've got natural talent-- I see kids all the time that say, 'I want to be a mechanic.' And they go to school and get all the credentials and graduate and they can't fix a ham sandwich let alone a car.
You got it or you don't. I'm kinda stuck bein' a mechanic, you know what I mean?
What do you like to do in your free time, Phillip?
I used to do a lot of huntin' but don't have time for that any more because I own a business.
We used to do some racin' and different things. But really nowadays, I've got two young daughters so most of my free time goes to spendin' with them.
So, what does Waco need to know you guys offer?
We do all major automotive repairs, A/C + heat, motors, transmissions, rear ends, brakes. The only things that we don't do are state inspections, alignments, and tires.
We do all the major repairs, engine work – the big stuff, that's what we do.
Hey, Waco. When you take your car by Brown’s for “the big stuff,” it pays Phillip’s staff, cares for his kids, and supports his local dreams. It also supports your local economy, and that’s good because then we’re taking care of our teachers, first responders, and things like our roads.
When you use Towny, the free app that guides you to shop local, YOU get REWARDED, on top of all that goodness.