WEST FARGO - Chris Schmidt didn't realize how tough moving his auto shop would be until he was relieved to be done.
Schmidt, the owner of Auto Doctors LLC, moved his business to the newly built shop at 415 Christianson Drive nearly a year ago. He started the business, then called West Fargo Auto Clinic, 12 years ago and felt like the operation was growing too large for its old location at 100 Main Ave. W..
"It's still a struggle," he said. "It's been 12 years of hard working and stress, and nail-biting. I like to push the limit, and try and grow. I knew the shop is where I wanted to be."
Schmidt and his staff were largely responsible for getting the new building up and running. Office manager Jennifer Baumeister, who's worked there since 2012, said Schmidt basically had to work two jobs-running the current operation at the old location while also building the new one.
"Often, there were many late nights playing catchup working on cars, making sure everything was going right as far as the building," Baumeister said. "It was a huge weight off our shoulders to be there. There's new stuff that needs to be added, but it's just so nice to have a new facility with room for tools and room to breathe."
Schmidt bought the land for his new shop five years ago when there was hardly anything near Interstate 94.
Like that part of town, Schmidt's business has been growing.
"It was a huge accomplishment to step foot in the new facility," he said. "It's still going to take a lot before we're established and comfortable down there. It did feel like a huge accomplishment to make it this far."
Schmidt said his parents financed him and helped get the business off the ground. Then he wanted to take charge and bought out their end. He grew up tinkering with cars and was inspired to start a business by his father, Bob, who was a vocational rehabilitation counselor for veterans.
Schmidt said Auto Doctors includes auto repair and diagnostics-with an emphasis on finding problems correctly the first time.
Baumeister said the diagnostics set Auto Doctors apart.
"That isn't to say there's no room for human error," she said, "but we try to get it right the first time and make people feel comfortable that we can fix their car in a reasonable amount of time and only have to do it once."
Schmidt said he tries to run an honest business and that the hardest part is hearing feedback from unsatisfied customers.
"The best part is when we have a customer who is appreciative of what we do and the hard work we put in," he said. "The hardest thing is with social media when we get a bad review. ... That almost hurts to hear."
Schmidt said he once dreamed of owning multiple shops, but he doesn't know if that will happen now that he knows how much work would be needed to get another location off the ground. Baumeister said she doesn't see Auto Doctors changing much, including its focus on relationships with customers, other than growth moving forward.
"We try really hard to be like a mom-and-pop type shop," she said. "We're trying to be really personable and friendly. I try really hard to remember everyone that comes through the door. I want to care about the person and not the money and cars, even if you stop in for a visit."