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Measure What Matters: Community Automotive Repair

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Located in the East Fulton business district and with deep ties to the neighborhood, Community Automotive Repair has been providing the community with quality auto repair since 1975. The business is committed to serving the community and making a positive environmental impact.

Measure What Matters: Community Automotive Repair

This article is part of Local First’s Measure What Matters series, where we interview Local First Members who have taken the Quick Impact Assessment, and learn about how the assessment has helped them use their business as a force for good and be Good for Grand Rapids.

Located in the East Fulton business district and with deep ties to the neighborhood, Community Automotive Repair has been providing the community with quality auto repair since 1975. What originally started as a business to support a local church more than 40 years ago, has evolved into a business that is committed to serving the community and making a positive environmental impact.  

“Community Automotive Repair was created to build up our local neighborhoods and support residents living in our community,” said Dick Zaagman, owner and founder of Community Automotive Repair. “As our business has evolved over the years, our ministry-driven values have remained at the core of our mission and have helped us better serve the needs of people in our community.”

Community Automotive Repair supports the Inner City Christian Federation (ICCF), which is an organization that provides housing opportunities and services that encourage family responsibility and independence, by performing car repairs for ICCF employees with no labor costs, so customers only pay for parts. This donation of labor and financial support from Community Automotive Repair allows ICCF to offer their services in many ways to the families they serve. This is one way Community Automotive Repair continues to give back to the community and supports the vision established in 1975.

In addition to serving the local community, Community Automotive Repair is committed to sustainability and protecting the environment. Community Automotive Repair recycles all metal products from vehicles, old tires, electronics and paper and plastic parts. Ninety-five percent of their shop’s heat is produced with waste oil from cars. 

Most recently, Community Automotive Repair became one of only three LEED certified auto repair stores in the United States. Instead of building a new shop to meet LEED requirements, Community Automotive Repair renovated its existing facility to operate at the highest efficiency. Lighting in the new portion of the building as well as outside is LED lighting, and with 200 windows, the shop has abundant natural light which has improved the work environment for employees.

Zaagman took Local First’s Quick Impact Assessment to understand more about how he could use his business to make a positive impact and identify areas where his business could grow. Asked to reflect on the Quick Impact Assessment, Zaagman said he was initially surprised by the different aspects of the triple bottom line.

“When I first took the assessment, I initially thought to myself ‘there’s no way I’ll be able to accomplish everything the assessment is asking me to do.’ However, the assessment ended up being an eye-opening experience that helped me evaluate and improve my business practices,” said Zaagman. “I’ve always been committed to social, environmental and community issues, so the assessment helped me identify ways my business is already making an impact and ways that we can grow our impact.”  

Since making facility improvements related to LEED certification, Zaagman expressed that the improved space, lighting and openness of the building has improve the business’ culture. The Quick Impact Assessment also helped him identify ways to build a team of talented people that share similar values.   

“By improving our building and taking steps to become LEED certified, we have been able to attract more highly-skilled workers,” said Zaagman. “This is an industry where it’s hard to find talent. Thanks to these efforts, I’m now attracting professionals with more than 25 years of industry experience.”

Looking ahead, Dick hopes to implement some changes identified through the QIA process such as 360 Degree performance reviews, which entail having employees reviewing each other as well as reviewing management. He also wants to identify more ways to provide employees with volunteer opportunities.

“I encourage every business to take the Quick Impact Assessment. If you have a desire to learn more about your business and move your business in a direction that helps the community, I highly recommend taking it,” said Zaagman. “The assessment is an eye-opening experience and it reminded me that it takes time to become successful in something. My best advice is to take the assessment one piece at a time and focus on what you can do today to move your business forward.”

Interested in learning how your business performs against best practices on employee, community and environmental impact? Take the Quick Impact Assessment today to learn how much good your business is doing for the local economy and community at

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