Clint Dudley began his business repairing cars for his friends and family in his garage. At first it was a way to deduct some property expenses, but soon his friends and family realized it was a great way to save money on their car repairs.
Shade Tree Auto began as a side business in 2001, and Clint began taking night classes at Des Moines Area Community College in 2003. After moving to Grimes in 2005, Clint has expanded the business into three separate locations across the Des Moines metro area. Recently, the business has moved forward with securing a Small Business Administration loan to build a new shop along Highway 141. During its construction, Clint reached out to Mid Iowa SBDC Regional Director Christina Moffatt for advice and assistance.
“Our best results came in the form of connections. Christina Moffatt has helped make a number of connections on specific questions we had during our construction,” said Clint.
What makes Shade Tree Auto unique is that they provide customers with digital vehicle inspections, a 4 year/40,000 mile warranty on parts and labor, and free loaner vehicles. Their strong business practices haven’t gone unrecognized, either. Shade Tree Auto has been distinguished as one of the top 100 small businesses in the country by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce two years in a row. Recently, they received the Better Business Bureau Torch Award for Integrity.
In March of this year, Shade Tree Auto moved into a brand new facility located along Highway 141 in Grimes. The new 13,000 square foot shop is less than 2 miles from the former location, and has three times the capacity of the original. The business has already hired an additional service advisor and technician, with future positions available. In only a few short weeks, the company has already seen a significant increase in sales and new customers.
Shade Tree Auto has contributed to the Des Moines metro community in many ways. Clint has served as a president and board member of the Grimes Chamber of Commerce, helped to establish a Kiwanis club in Grimes, and he volunteers and financially supports the Grimes Volunteer Support Services. He also currently serves on the board of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute. Additionally, Shade Tree Auto has sponsored school-to-work students through the local high school, and Clint serves on the advisory board for the DMACC Automotive Program.
Of his experience with the SBDC, Clint said, “It’s gone well; Christina makes herself available through the Urbandale Chamber and is easily reachable through email. It’s a relief to speak with someone who has/is going through similar experiences with her own business.”
Although he does not consider Shade Tree Auto a family business, Clint attributes much of his success to his wife and family, who have motivated him to focus on growing the business and becoming a successful businessman.