180 DEGREES AUOTOMOTIVE

Spirit of Enterprise winner: 180 Degrees Automotive

180 Degrees Automotive earned the Hahnco Companies Special Achievement in Entrepreneurship Award this year at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University’s prestigious Spirit of Enterprise Awards.

When Sarah “Bogi” Lateiner decided to open her own auto repair shop, she “had no business plan, no money.” What Bogi did have was a passion and a talent for fixing cars and taking care of people.

With a focus on women and minorities – customers who have traditionally been neglected or exploited by the auto repair industry and feel particularly intimidated by it – 180 Degrees Automotive grew rapidly, doubling each year after the first. “I was booked out two weeks in advance, but I knew that growth was not sustainable, that I was succeeding despite myself,” Bogi explained.

So she decided to learn how to be a business owner. “You name it, I did it – business books, training conferences, success coaches – but I didn’t like what I was learning. It was all about focusing on financials, structure, systems. I was scared that it would take away my passion and creativity.”

Despite her fears, Bogi stuck with it and has discovered that focusing on the numbers and the systems behind her business actually allows her more time to do the things she’s really passionate about. That includes moving 180 Degrees Automotive into a new building, which she owns, teaching car care classes, and co-hosting a national all-women car repair TV show.

The lasting success of 180 Degrees Automotive doesn’t come from the fact that the company focuses on serving women, or the fact that most of its mechanics and service advisors are women. “Being women in this industry may help to bring people in the door, but that’s not what keeps them here,” Bogi explained. “We still have to provide excellent service and go above and beyond to earn, and keep, the trust of our customers.”

Name of business: 180 Degrees Automotive, Inc.

Nature of business: Automotive repair

Address: 545 W. Mariposa St. Phoenix, AZ 85013

Web: 180auto.com

Founded: 2006

Number of employees: 6