Staff, community key to Shade Tree Auto’s success

Shade Tree Auto in Grimes can’t stop winning awards.

Most recently, the auto repair shop won the Gold Stevie Award in the Company of the Year – Retail – Small category.

“It was not lost on us that we are a small auto repair shop from Grimes, Iowa and it’s been named the number one small retail company in the world,” Owner Clint Dudley said. “For us, it wasn’t so much the recognition for me, as it was I saw how incredible the staff was. And I think that’s something that really speaks volumes if we get that award because of them.”

Dudley started the business in his garage in Johnston in 2001. Since then, the business has grown and recently opened a new location at 1750 SE 11th St. in Grimes.

Being named the winner of an international award has been a process in the making for Shade Tree Auto.

“It’s kind of been a snowball rolling,” Dudley said.

In 2014, Shade Tree Auto won a local community champion award. From that, Dudley was contacted by the US Chamber of Commerce to apply for a Dream Big award – which the shop won in 2015 and 2016. After that, Shade Tree won an international business award at the bronze level. The Steves then contacted Dudley about an American Business award, where the company won gold on a national level. And finally, Shade Tree Auto won the international Stevie Award.

Dudley will be attending the awards in London, England, on October 20 along with the store manager Dustin and service adviser Pam.

“It will be a rare occasion where we actually shut down the shop for a Friday,” Dudley said. “It will be a quick trip there and back, but it is important for us to include them for the ceremony.”

There will be about 400 people from about 30 different countries attending the awards, according to Dudley.

So how is Shade Tree Auto so successful?

“It’s a million things, but it really comes down to the staff,” Dudley said. “It sounds kind of cliche, but it’s true. We have an incredible staff of advisers and technicians that allow us to, not only take care of our customers, but give us free time to contribute back to the community.”

Dudley also praised the community for helping claim the awards.

“We’ve been very fortunate with a lot of good customers and good staff,” he said. “We’ve seen a lot of support from the Chambers in both Grimes and Urbandale, lot of support from the community and the city. Honestly, that’s what happens when you get all of that. It’s a million little reasons that you get to that place.”

While the international award is “still sinking in” for Dudley, he said that it is important for people to see auto repair shops winning awards.

“This isn’t one of the more respected industry,” Dudley said. “For us (it’s important) to show that with a two-year degree you can still have an incredible business and that there are opportunities in any industry. Even if we are a internationally recognized business, we just like to set an example for small businesses in central Iowa and in our industry that anything is possible.”

For more information about Shade Tree Auto, visit their website


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