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Park Ridge Couples Auto Body Shop Wins National CARSTAR Award

Jun and Brian Benakos

Jun and Brian Benakos

By Matt Baron, Inside Edge PR

When he was 8, Brian Benakos tugged at his parents to let him work at Georges Body and Fender Repairing, the family-owned auto body shop.

Today, more than 50 years later, the business continues to inspire child-like enthusiasm in Benakos. And lately, the Park Ridge man has had two new powerful allies by his side.

The first is his wife, Jun, whom he married in April 2009 after they met at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington.

The second is CARSTAR, the largest group of branded collision repair centers in North America. Benakos became a CARSTAR franchisee in February 2007.

The blossoming of the two relationships has been interwoven.

Since she arrived, Jun has been the driving force of our business, said Benakos. She has a great desire to see our business serve people in ways that leave them better off than when we initially meet them. Shes made a big difference in not only my life, but in the lives of our staff and customers.

In September, that impact gained recognition when Georges CARSTAR, 4723 W. Grand Ave. in Chicago, was selected as the companys Rookie of the Year.

The announcement came at a gathering in Denver, where they joined other CARSTAR franchisees to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the company.

At first, we were surprised by the announcement, said Jun. Then we got excited. What remains with us is encouragementthat we are on the right track.

They were selected from among about 20 other franchisees who qualified for the award by having been with CARSTAR less than three years.

Benakos is no stranger to being the new kid on the block. Reflecting on his start so many years ago, his father, George Sr., first assigned him to clean the facility two buildings west of the current location.

Next came sweeping and after getting that down, I started working on cars, recalled Benakos. When we did anything, we had to get it done correctly. My dad was very firm about that.

A native of Chicago, George Benakos began the business in 1944 after working for a German immigrant named Joe who proved to be a great mentor.

He cared about getting the job done right the first time and that had a profound effect on my dad, said Benakos. That was the ethic and the legacy handed down to me and my siblings.

After graduating from Elmwood Park High School in 1968, Benakos obtained a bachelors degree in physical education from Elmhurst College. He worked an assortment of jobs and considered pursuing a career in physical education before rejoining the family business a year out of college.

Over the years, his mother, Viola, his brother, George Jr., his sister, Georgeann, and three daughters, all grown, worked for the shop. For the past eight years, he has been the only family member to do so.

With six employees, all but one of whom is full-time, the shop has developed a highly respected reputation in the region for quality and service. As a result, most new business flows from word-of-mouth referrals.

Its so gratifying when that happens. We have a perfect opportunity to serve others and try to make it better for them today than yesterday, said Jun. They come in with a problem and we solve it for them.

CARSTAR has more than 400 locally owned and operated locations in 27 states and 10 Canadian provinces. Since its 1989 founding, the chain has repaired more than 2.5 million cars, developing an industry-leading reputation along the way by consistently garnering the industrys top customer satisfaction ratings.

That commitment to quality, which includes a nationwide warranty on most work, has been a crucial factor in continuing to affiliate with CARSTAR.

Being named Rookie of the Year tells us that CARSTAR has embraced us as much as we have embraced them, Benakos said. Becoming a franchisee has been instrumental in making us more efficient and improving our customer service. It might sound hokey, but we sincerely consider the company our new extended family.

In addition to being members of Willow Creek Community Church and volunteers with the Salvation Army, the Benakoses are strong supporters of CARSTARs charity, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America.

CARSTAR is online at www.carstar.com. To contact Georges CARSTAR, call 773-486-2131 or visit http://www.carstar.com/georges/.

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