Garris trades in corporate life for small auto business
After many years of corporate life, Troy Garris is ready to channel his energies into his own business in Steele County.
Garris purchased Hometown Motors in Owatonna from Daryl Kubicek in late May, closed the facility down for a month to make renovations and opened as Honest-1 Auto Care. Unlike Hometown Motors, Honest-1 will be solely focused on auto repair and not selling used vehicles.
The repair shop had a soft opening on June 30. Garris is planning a grand opening in a couple months.
Honest-1 is a franchise store with more than 70 locations around the country, according to Garris. The largest concentration of them is in the Twin Cities where there are 15 stores.
“We have brought something different to Owatonna,” said Garris. “I want to grow the business, and we want to be the place to go.”
The facility located on S. Oak Avenue was built about 20 years ago. Garris made significant improvements to the building. One of the showpiece items of the renovation is a large picture window where customers can see their vehicles being repaired in the garage, which features six service bays.
For 20 years, Garris worked in financial operations for a large corporation in Chicago. “I tell everyone I was the data guy,” said Garris, who has a master’s in business and a law degree. He added he is excited about his transition into being a small business owner. “I was tired of corporate life and decided I wanted to own my own business.”
Garris acknowledges he had been looking for a location for an auto store for five years and that Owatonna was not his first choice. He thought he had a store lined up in Mankato and moved to near by Eagle Lake from Chicago. “It didn’t work out and this is Plan B,” he said. “It all worked out for the best, and I feel pretty comfortable with this,” he added.
As a newcomer to Owatonna, Garris says he likes the community. “I was pretty blown away by the downtown,” he said. “The community seems dynamic and growing. Things are happening here.”
He and his family are hoping to move to Owatonna in the near future.
Honest-1, Garris says, is focused on customer service. He will strive to educate customers on how their vehicle works. “We explain every step of the maintenance or repair process before we start any work, and we stand behind our 100% satisfaction guarantee,” he said.
“We’re the home of the honest mechanics,” Garris said, noting they are serviced by ASE certified technicians that receive continual training. Honest-1 is paperless with all of their service work done on iPads with a text or email link sent to customers featuring a report on their vehicles.
Another important feature of Honest-1 is that they are as eco-friendly as possible, Garris said. “We try to do as much as humanly possible to recycle and dispose of materials properly,” he said.
There are currently nine employees at Honest-1. The store is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Garris pointed out that he wanted to provide the convenience of being open for customers earlier in the day to work around their schedules.
Garris, who grew up in a small town in southeast Iowa, said he developed his interest in cars back home where his grandfather owned a Ford dealership in Iowa. “I always changed oils and changed brakes. I’ve always had that interest,” he said.
His pride and joy is tinkering around on a 1965 Thunderbird, which is kept at his parents in Iowa. Whenever time allows, Garris goes back home to work on the vehicle on the weekends.
In the future, Garris hopes to expand his business to other locations around southern Minnesota, possibly areas like Albert Lea, Faribault, Rochester and Mankato.
But for now he is content with building the Owatonna location.
“It has been a long journey to owning the business,” Garris said.