Fremont business brings car maintenance to the customer

2010-12-20T11:00:00Z Fremont business brings car maintenance to the customerChris Zavadil/Fremont Tribune Fremont Tribune
December 20, 2010 11:00 am  • 

With 11- and 12-year-old sons, Jennifer Swanson knows how busy life gets.

Swanson, like other parents, hops from one activity to another, trying to squeeze family time in around work, school activities and sports. Sometimes the day isn't long enough.

Car maintenance, she said, sometimes falls through the cracks, and that's the genesis of Checkered Flag LLC, a new business she and partner Wayne Bonestroo started in Fremont.

Instead of taking your car to a mechanic for routine maintenance, the mobile automobile maintenance company comes to you.

"Calling the shop, trying to get there, and then finding a way back to work, that was difficult when you had sports going on and everything else after school with kids. It's a lot easier to do it this way," Swanson said.

"We can pretty much go anywhere as long as there's a space where we can pull up right to the vehicle, whether it's at work or at home, wherever, we can do that," she said.

"It's a full maintenance program," Bonestroo said.

"We take care of everything from standard oil services to radiator and transmission flushings, belt and hose replacements, tire rotations," he said. "It's strictly a maintenance program."

They will even maintain your maintenance records.

Bonestroo and Swanson said there are similar mobile businesses around the country, but they don't know of any like it in Nebraska.

"In 2001 or 2002 was probably about the time the idea came to mind," Bonestroo said. "I started researching, diagramming and picturing the visualization of what it would take to get a community like this to support it, how big I wanted to start trailer-wise, equipment-wise what I wanted to carry, how many people I can take care of in a quarterly to an annual basis."

Bonestroo has experience in auto maintenance. He also worked in construction and recently in a temporary job at Valmont. When that position ended, he and Swanson put the wheels in motion for their new business.

"At the end of October we really started pushing this hard," Swanson said. "He had all the research done, it was just a matter of going to the bank with the idea."

Online research and numerous telephone calls to more than a dozen different companies as far away as North Carolina, Florida, Texas and Arizona over the years helped Bonestroo hammer out the plans.

"The company that did my equipment setup is from Florida," he said. "The first time I talked to him was probably four or five years ago. I'd call him once and it might be a year and a half or two years later, but he always remembered me.

"It was good to finally get the deal done because it was a long time coming," he went on. "We went down and set up the trailer and he said, ‘Dude, you've got it going on, this is the best rig I've seen come through here, you're set up ready to go.'

"We're like a Jiffy Lube on wheels," Bonestroo said. "Once I pull up to the house I don't want to have to go for anything. Cost-wise, if you're not ready for that client at that time, you're wasting your time and you're wasting their time."

They schedule individual customers, but "our target area is to get with companies who want to promote this as a benefit to their employees," he said. "We take care of the employees within the company as a reassurance that they're taking care of their vehicles to get to work, and the company is taking care of the opportunity for them to do that for them to be there."

Fleet vehicles also are targets. People like plumbers and electricians can't afford down time because their vehicles are not maintained, Swanson said.

They are working to gain exposure and establish a reputation, they said. An advertising campaign has kicked off and they plan to be at the Home Show in January.

"We're trying to get some personal, up-front exposure in the community," Bonestroo said.

"We're here to stay," he said. "I've got goals 18 months to 70 months out. In five years, I want a minimum of five trailers, I'd like to be in three cities by then."

Customer requests haven't been limited to cars, they said.

"I've been asked to do lawn mowers to semis already," Bonestroo said. "We've kicked around the big rig idea. We've had motorcycles and boats.

"Pretty much if we get the call and they're serious, we'll take it," he said.

The company can be reached at (402) 270-5823.

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