Sarah Vowell and her husband, Adam, love Colorado. She grew up attending Young Life camp and he went on skiing trips with his family. But she never imagined life would bring her back there from Houston. After 12 years in oil and gas sales, she had a heavy international travel rotation and was looking to take her career to the next level with an executive leadership position. But something didn’t sit right.
“I moved to Houston to go to work for a subsea cutting company. I spent 6 years volunteering as a firefighter on the side, which is how I met my husband, Adam, who loved cars and firetrucks. We married and found ourselves asking the big questions: What are we going to do with rest of life? Stay in Houston?”
They knew they didn’t want to spend life at the mercy of other’s decisions, so Sarah started writing a business plan to start a mom and pop style auto shop. Then she looked into different gas powered go-karts and found a go-kart franchise, which got them thinking about franchises in general. They soon realized becoming franchisees would be the best opportunity at their age. A mom and pop store would take too long to break even, and they wanted a proven model they could quickly start.
Around that time, Adam was offered a job with Christian Brothers Automotive and the couple was able to experience what the franchise was all about.
“Growing up in Houston, I had seen a Christian Brothers Automotive location on my commute all the time. I always thought the building was beautiful; it looked clean and nice. I thought that must be a great place,” said Sarah. “When Adam started working there, we noticed how hands on and invested the team members were at the home office. Adam was blessed to get to know some of the coaches and the executive team. He loved their team building activities and how prayer was used in meetings. He said, ‘why don’t we look into this opportunity for us?’ I did some looking and I felt a nudge like we should go. I don't even know if was possible and filled out some forms online. Within the hour, I got a call wanting to talk through everything. The franchise developer, Josh Wall, knew Adam. I didn’t even put that Adam worked there on the application, so they put two and two together quickly! We really fell in love with Christian Brothers Automotive. We just started the process, and felt it was a God-led scenario because everything fell into place.”
Prior to looking into Christian Brothers Automotive, however, their different lifestyle goals were causing some strain.
“I am very independent, career driven and goal oriented. I always ask what’s next! I was in the process of getting an MBA when we were looking at franchises. My ambitions were causing some friction at home. But not anymore. Adam can be in the shop, which I call his full-time man cave, and I can use my skills to grow the business. That has worked out great for us and brought us closer together.”
The couple just celebrated the two-year opening of their first Christian Brothers Automotive franchise location and is actively planning a second location.
“Absolutely we would do it all over again!” said Sarah. “What I love the most about Christian Brothers Automotive is we get to tie our love for service and serving people in with what we do in our business. Christian Brothers Automotive really focuses on being a light in the community. When a customer walks in the door, we want to love and serve that person like a member of our own family. I love Christian Brother’s belief in ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ It’s a dream come true.”
“I 100% believe in our CEO’s vision and what he is doing with God and his plans. He has deepened our faith even more and opened doors and our hearts. I talk to friends who say I am more light hearted now, whereas I was more cynical and rough around the edges before. That’s really because of Christian Brothers Automotive and what God has done in our lives through them. I love being part of a company where my faith and service can be open. We can thrive and use our skills. We are in the process of opening a second store and can’t wait to see what happens there. Adam and I still can’t believe we are here. How did this all happen? And we are so excited!”
When their first location opened, Wall told the couple where they needed to be in order to qualify for a second store. When they got there, Wall told the couple he had some land.
“Just yesterday we got a site plan to submit,” said Sarah. “It’s unreal to us because we had not been open even two years before being approved for a second store. It speaks a lot about the relationship we have with the home office and how much we trust each other. That’s what sets the Christian Brothers Automotive franchise apart from others. It feels like our relationship with the home office is a family partnership. It feels good to know that you just trust them. When things happen, you know they are on your side. They work with you. They truly believe in the people more than the business.”
As far as her ambition goes, Sarah is still excited about the future and asking herself what’s next. She recently joined an organization called Women in Auto Care and received overwhelming support from Christian Brothers Automotive to participate in it.
“They have some great opportunities within the auto care industry to get involved in. I can go to the Washington Summit and speak to Congress about issues in the auto industry. That is the best of both worlds between my life now and my prior life traveling around. Doors are opening all over the place. It’s fun to be a part of how Christian Brothers changes way that you can look at your future and make it all come together and have balance.”