If you treat your car as part of your family, then you don’t allow just anyone to service it. You want a trusted mechanic, people who have plenty of experience, but are also up to speed with current industry developments. You want technicians who aren’t just there to take money out of your pocket, but have your needs and requirements in mind. You want mechanics who work hard to earn your trust that you are getting the best service and are always safe on the road in the vehicle they have serviced.
For those of you who live in Hamilton and Oakville, CRS Automotive can be that mechanic for you. They understand the desire of conscientious drivers for their car to be in the top condition when it comes to the safety of yourself and your family – since it is a family run business!
When Mohammed Liaqat opened the first CRS Automotive in Hamilton, Ontario in August 1998, his son, Ahmad, sought to match his father’s ambition. He went to college, took up a modern trade and earned his diploma. Afterward, while Ahmad was paying his dues as a rookie software engineer, he again looked to his father.
”About four years after he opened the business I stopped by one day to ask him for a part-time job to earn a little extra money,” Ahmad explains. “Of course he said YES and was excited to bring me on board. I really didn’t have any intention of joining him for long because I was considering upgrading my software training. A few months into the job my father asked me to work with him full-time. I agreed and I took on a new challenge.”
Not in the least surprisingly, Mohammed tailored the transition from computers to cars for his son from the beginning.
“During those first months and years,” Ahmad recalls, ”my father was constantly training me: in business management, customer service, employee management. My father taught me slowly, giving me more and more responsibility over time, and when I made a mistake he would coach me. I learned a lot from my father but I also have a very ambitious academic side to me. I’ve taken several courses in Automotive Management, I regularly consult successful business coaches, and I attend regular monthly meetings with other shop owners to analyze business strategies and industry innovations.”
After nearly 18 years in business, Mohammed’s vision continues to change and his business acumen shines through his son’s efforts. The original Hamilton service center has grown to 7,000 square feet and includes 10 bays – with an amazingly spacious parking. And with the expansion to Oakville in December 2014 came new opportunities. The home and headquarters of companies the likes of Tim Hortons, Siemens, and The Ford Motor Company Canada – not to mention a hoard of high-end automotive dealerships – Oakville was the ideal location for the Liaqat and CRS Automotive to plant a new flag.
“Both locations offer the same services when it comes to vehicle repairs,” explains Ahmad, “but we’ve added a lot with our Oakville location, including vehicle sales. The Oakville location is 13,500 square feet, has eight service bays, a vehicle showroom that holds up to eight vehicles and a parking lot for about 80 vehicles. Oakville also houses our boardroom and five offices for key staff. The Oakville location also sees a lot of higher end vehicles in for service because of the market that it is located in. In Oakville, we are surrounded by new and high-end car dealers and many of them use us on a daily basis for services they don’t do themselves. We take on wheel alignments, service off-brand vehicles, perform emissions testing, you name it. We’re constantly seeing that kind of business our way.”
The unofficial mantra at CRS Automotive is “embrace your roots.” While the added sales division in Oakville has helped the company exponentially grow quarter after quarter, “the mechanical side is our core and is where our concentration is,” Ahmad emphasizes.
Ahmad sees a lot of overlap with CRS Automotive’s approach to sales and service.
“If you can absorb costs to get the customer on the road or back on the road quickly and pain-free it goes a long way,” he explains. “We customize our services for each company to ensure we are taking care of their needs. We go the extra mile to ensure as little downtime as possible for the company’s vehicles – which includes picking vehicles up and dropping them off, pre-ordering parts, full and preventative inspections, directly dealing with out-of-town fleet management companies so they don’t have to, arranging transportation for drivers stuck in the in-between, and, of course, special rates for larger accounts. This kind of consideration brings customers back.”
Offering both traditional automotive and customized mobile services in Southern Ontario requires Ahmad to comprise his team at CRS Automotive of the best of the best. He feels that his three-part-screening system is fail-proof.
“When hiring new staff, the first thing we look at is their skill set,” he says. “We look for people with the proper training who are comfortable working on a wide array of vehicles. It’s important to us to have someone who is capable of moving between different manufacturers and different technologies. Next, we look for people who are team- oriented. It helps everyone when a tech is willing to share their knowledge and gets along well with other team members. Third, we look for someone who pays attention to detail, because it’s usually the small things that cause big problems.”
The crème de la crème for Ahmad are those Automotive Service Technicians who are certified by The Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program.
”All of our technicians are licensed by the ministry and have their Red Seal,” he explains. But always the consummate student, Ahmad emphasizes another thing. ”We do higher apprentices to take care of small jobs while learning the finer points of the trade alongside a licensed tech. With the apprentices we hire, we do our best to ensure they get time to go to school and receive hands-on instructions from our licensed technicians.”
Ali Ghaddar is the kind of technician skimmed from the right part of the barrel.
“He was actually hired by my father, Mohammed,” Ahmad explains. “He started working with us as a technician and in no time at all his management experience from other automotive shops came shining through. So when my father stepped out of the business, I brought Ali into the office to help me run things. Ali proved to be an invaluable employee. When the Oakville operation became a reality, Ali became an equal partner in the business. And while he’s a great technician, he’s an even better business owner. His attention to detail is masterful and he treats our customers with the respect expected by CRS Automotive customers.”
Regardless of their skill set in the bays, their attention to detail under the hood, or their boardroom prowess, Ahmad is quick to point out that his employees are endurance athletes first and foremost.
“Our hours and size of the shops make us a force,” he insists with a notable tone of pride. “When you have 13 hours each day with 10 bays in Hamilton for six days a week and 8 bays in Oakville for seven days a week, you’re going to get a lot of work done. We work this hard because we love what we do and we know it makes a big difference to customers who don’t have to wait the industry-standard amount of days to get their vehicle back.”
CRS Automotive is not only a trusted shop in Hamilton and Oakville, it also believes in convenience for its customers; unlike other mechanics, it is open 7 days a week so you can bring in your vehicle when you need to most.
Moreover, CRS Automotive has a number of special offers for their faithful customers, which you can check out here. Bring a coupon to our shops in Hamilton and Oakville today and leave your car in expert hands!