West Oakland Auto Repair, LLC owner is SBA’s Minnesota Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year

Published 8:45 am Thursday, April 20, 2023

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The U.S. Small Business Administration has named Jose Carrazco of West Oakland Auto Repair, LLC the 2023 SBA Minnesota Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year. 

 “Business owners like Jose Carrazco bring a wealth of diverse ideas, innovation, and experiences to the marketplace,” said Brian McDonald, SBA’s Minnesota District Director. “We are celebrating West Oakland Auto Repair, for creating good jobs and providing quality services for the community of Austin, MN.”

Carrazco immigrated from Mexico in the mid-1990s. 

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“At first, I started working at Quality Pork, a subsidiary of Hormel in Austin, MN, while working on cars on the side,” Carrazco said, “I didn’t think about being a mechanic, but I started working on my own cars and liking it.” 

“I started preparing myself for the next few years until I found a job in Car Nu Auto Body and worked there for about four years,” he continued “I learned a lot from them regarding collision repairs, frame measuring, and much more. After going through this learning process, I finally decided that I wanted to start my own business and said, ‘Let’s give it a try.’” 

In 2012 West Oakland Auto Repair started in a rented facility. 

“Everything was very limited, especially our staff. With no employees except my dad Alberto Rodriguez and my nephew Blas Hernandez. Blas was still attending school at the time and would come to help me afterward. It’s kind of funny, because when people see my dad around, they always think that he’s the one who started it all, but it’s the other way around,” said Carrazco. “My dad is more of a farmer, but he’s always willing to learn new skills. I feel very lucky to still have both as part of the team today.”

Carrazco conceded that money was a limiting factor, but the lack of business education was where he felt the most effort was needed to help businesses take the plunge into small business ownership. 

“Just because we know how to do something — let’s say bake cakes – to go from making a few for the family to opening a business, you must know how to manage that change, from advertising to financial to managing books and people,” Carrazco said. “There’s a lot to learn.” 

West Oakland Auto Repair received two SBA microloans through the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation. The first was for repairing equipment, purchasing equipment, and inventory. Then, when West Oakland Auto purchased a larger facility, they received financial assistance through an SBA 7(a) loan guarantee from Home Federal Bank, funding from the Austin Development Corporation, and a SBA microloan on equipment from SMIF.

 West Oakland Auto Repair has received support from Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation’s team including Marcia Haley and John Katz, and consultant Eric Kyllo; Regional Director of the Small Business Development Center’s Mark Thein; and Development Center of Austin’s John Garry.

National Small Business Week will be held from April 30-May 6, 2023. Registration for the 2023 National Small Business Week Virtual Summit is now open. The two-day online event will take place from May 2-3, 2023. Attendance is free of charge, but registration is required. To register, visit www.sba.gov/nsbw.