From donating vehicles to families in need to participating in Christian Brothers’ annual National Service Day event, Christian Brothers Automotive’s Georgetown, Tex. location is helping to lead the way for customer and community service for the booming nationwide brand. But, the shop’s current owner, Keith Guyton, hasn’t always been the confident business owner he is today, streamlining strong unit level economics in his store, increasing operational efficiency and connecting with those in his community.
When he was a teen, Guyton dropped out of high school to sell and use drugs and was arrested multiple times for serious crimes like burglary. A lifetime behind bars seemed inevitable.
But, as Guyton hit rock bottom, he decided he was done with drugs. The courageous decision didn’t come easily. At the age of 35, Guyton risked his life by destroying $50,000 worth of cocaine. Striking a deal with a powerful dealer, Guyton promised to pay him back for his debts and worked hard to become a real estate agent and body builder, sending every penny to his former dealer.
Now, years later, his hard work to turn his life around has resulted in something he never thought possible: his very own Christian Brothers Automotive franchise location in Austin, Texas. It began 10 years ago when Guyton decided he needed a change from his life in Houston, moving with his wife and kids to Austin. His entry into the automotive repair industry came largely by accident. As he was looking for work, he found himself interviewing for a position with Christian Brothers Automotive.
“I was sitting down with Jonathan Carr, who was the owner at the time, and I knew I wanted to be honest with him about my background from the start,” said Guyton. “I told him, ‘let me tell you a story, because I don’t want it to be a surprise later.’ Well, he still gave me a chance, and I got the job.”
Carr and Guyton became a close knit, successful team, running the Christian Brothers shop in Hutto for several years, then deciding together to take on management of the Georgetown location, which was struggling to improve sales at the time. Together, they re-built the business into one of the top Christian Brothers locations in the country. But, there were always talks about Carr’s future with the shop.
“I always asked him, ‘what’s going to happen to me when you move on?’” Guyton said. “He always responded with, ‘man I got you.’ And, he did.”
When Carr recently moved to the Christian Brothers corporate team as Vice President of Marketing, he knew it was time to finally transition the shop to a new owner. At the end of 2016, he told Guyton that the Georgetown shop was his, financed out of Carr’s own pocket. For Guyton, already past 50-years-old, without any retirement savings and hoping to secure his family's future, it was a dream come true.
Today, the Georgetown shop is continuing to climb in sales, with January, Guyton’s first month officially running the shop, becoming one of the location’s strongest months ever. Guyton plans to continue hosting new charity events, such as the brand’s annual service day event, and he is using his experience to speak in front of teens at a local detention center in Austin.
“What I want to do as I move on and own the business is to present opportunities like that to other people, whether through raises, giving them jobs, putting in a good word or being a good example,” Guyton said. “The Christian Brothers brand was founded to make a difference in the auto industry by becoming the most trusted place for people to take their vehicles. For me, the company has done so much more than that, and I want to continue to pay it forward and show others that if you work hard, you can get there.”