Dan and Shawnda Burch
Dan Burch obtained his early mechanical training in the military, working on all manner of vehicles, old and new. That training has since lead to 33 years experience in the automotive and heavy equipment industry. In late 2006, Dan’s job responsibilities required him to travel extensively and his wife Shawnda began to devise a plan to change that. Shawnda Burch, also with extensive experience in the automotive industry, particularly in parts sales and distribution, decided to try to convince Dan it was time for them to start their own automotive service shop.
Once they decided to create and implement their plan, they got serious about doing their homework. They investigated the size and potential of the overall market. They considered how much of that market share they would need to capture to be successful. They created a business plan, including a marketing plan, financial projections, and a capital needs assessment. After exploring possible locations, and considering a fairly large property acquisition, they scaled back their plan to a more manageable size that they were confident they could grow over time. D&S Auto Service & Diesel, Inc. was incorporated in January 2007.
The Burch’s demonstrated good business and financial understanding, but they credit Samantha Damron of the SBDC/EIDC for helping them refine their plan in a way that eventually led to a successful SBA loan application, enabling them to purchase their current location at 308 S. Main St in Pocatello. As of June 2010, Dan reports their annual revenue has nearly doubled since their first year of operation. He recently hired another mechanic and may soon need to hire another. Dan values his relationship with Idaho State University and their training programs. He provides teaching assistance and his shop serves as an internship site for ISU students.
The Burch’s continuously manage and monitor their operations and performance with modern automotive industry-specific computer programs, and they continue to like what they see. They are currently in the process of trying to establish another service location and have once again contacted the EIDC for loan assistance.
Dan wants his customers to know they do not need to experience the “fear factor” often associated with car repair. He knows that taking your car to a mechanic can be an anxiety-producing experience and he wants to change that, one car owner at a time. He warranties all his repairs and wants people to know he stands by his work and his word. When asked what lesson he would want to share with other small business owners, he said, “Deal honestly and fairly with your customers and value long-term steady growth over short-term profits”.
The Burch’s offer cash back programs to area churches, and discounts for ISU students, school teachers, and those qualified through the Idaho State Department of Health & Welfare. Every Thanksgiving they ask customers to contribute a turkey in exchange for an oil change, then they donate the turkeys to the Idaho Food Bank. The Burches believe strongly in giving back to the community that helps make their business a success.
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