River City 6: Ron Brown
Jones Automotive (www.jonesauto.com) is a locally owned and operated shop that has been serving clients in the Omaha Metro since 1950. Ron Brown is the president of Jones Automotive.
Tell us a little about your business. – David Jones started Jones Automotive at 1025 S 20th St as an automotive parts store and machine shop. In 1956-57 there was a shift in the business to specialize in the installation, parts and repair of vehicle air conditioning systems. In 1975 Mr. Jones moved the shops to the current location at 1223 S 20th St. I started in 1977 and helped move the rest of the business to the current location in 1978. I began as an air conditioning installer on vehicles that came without A/C. In 1979 Felix Kraus purchased the company from Dave Jones. On February 1st 1993 Felix was killed in a single vehicle accident. That morning was one of the worst of my life, and was also the morning that six of us became owners of Jones by means of a Buy Sell Agreement.
How did you get started in the business? – I had always thought until my senior year in high school that I would follow my Dad’s footsteps and become a photographer. That was the year I took auto shop and soon realized I wanted to work on cars for a living.
What has been your most important achievement professionally? – I would have to say being elected as president of Jones Automotive on December 31, 2015.
Tell us a little about your family. – In 1975 I married my high school sweetheart, Pam Czaja. We have four kids (Angie, Joel, Danielle and Chad) and four grandchildren (Kelsey, Ben, Daylan and Ryelle) who are the light of our lives! All of the kids have worked at Jones at one time or another; Joel (19 years and counting) works for us in the Emergency Equipment Installation Shop and is one of our top installers.
What do you see as one of the biggest turning points in your life? – Back in 1999 our daughter Danielle was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome. When the doctor told us that we needed to take her to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, we were stunned. The whole experience taught me that my faith, family and work family were the most important things in my life. Danielle is fine today and has two beautiful children.
What are you the most proud of? – Pam and I just celebrated 40 years of marriage (June 20th). We married very young (18 & 17) and I don’t think many people expected it to work out.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – Shortly after I started, Felix, my boss at the time, told me that when working on a customer’s car to treat it like my own car. This made me realize that customer service must be in the forefront of whatever I do.
If you could choose any other profession to be successful in, what would it be? – I have always had a passion for technology. I have been involved with computers since I bought a Commodore 64 back in the early 80’s, and have been the in-house IT guy at Jones. So I would choose the computer industry.
What local non-profit organization(s) are you passionate about or involved with, and are there any special reasons why? – I am passionate about Kountze Memorial Lutheran Church because of the people and all of the outreach the church offers the community.
What is your favorite local restaurant? – Charleston’s, love the food and the service.