Spokane-based JRA Restoration puts quality first while merging the old with the new.
As the old saying goes, “Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life.” After consulting with their accountant about turning their hobby of restoring classic cars into a full-scale business, Jon and Jamie Alleman realized that adage was more relevant to them than they may have thought.
Coming from a background in medicine, Jon had always been a self-described car guy. His passion for building and restoring cars was a hobby for years while he flew medical helicopters for area hospitals. When Jon realized that career had run its course, he began to consider the question that crosses the mind of many entrepreneurs: “What if my hobby could become a career?”
After pondering that question and running the numbers, the Allemans succeeded in taking their vision from a part-time hobby into a full-time business, pairing their love of cars with a quality-first approach to their craftsmanship. And just like that, JRA Restoration was born.
“What separates us from the other guys is the customer only deals with one person, who takes the car apart and puts it back together,” Jon said. “From there, the attention to detail is what I hope sets us apart.”
Attention to detail isn't the only thing that sets JRA apart. The husband-and-wife business partners pride themselves on delivering a quality product without the markup on parts that other shops might charge.
“We don't mark up any parts,” Jon said, “so we don't make any profit that way. Our money is made on labor. We're not out to get really rich. This is our passion.”
That passion is evident in everything his family-run shop creates, from full-frame restoration to the smaller details of finishing interiors. Projects of this magnitude – modernizing the interior of classic cars while keeping the original frame and vintage look of the car intact – can take a long time. Being a dedicated car aficionado himself, Jon is easily able to put himself in the position of his customers.
“I send progress updates to customers with each bill I send,” Jon said. “That way, they can talk to the guy turning the wrench firsthand, and stay updated as we go.”
The sentimental value of some of these cars, Jon said, can't be overstated – no matter if it's a kid with a '65 Mustang or an older guy with a lot of disposable income. Taking that approach is by design, and it also factors into why Jon and Jamie decided to take their business banking to BECU.
“Corporate banking just wasn't our thing, as it turns out,” Jon said. “We started with a corporate account [at a large bank], and they charged a bunch of fees – checking fees, credit card fees, all that. The free checking with BECU was a big one for us.”
Now, Jamie says, JRA Restoration runs all business banking through BECU: a business checking account, credit card, and line of credit have helped the couple manage their operations smoothly on a daily basis.
“Fees were just making everything complicated,” Jamie said.
And as it turns out, the Allemans have a little bit in common with BECU. In lieu of advertising, they'll often sponsor local shows and programs for automotive schools or studies in the Spokane area. It's important to them to give back, just like it is at BECU.
“Financially, owning your own business can be very rewarding, but you have to stay disciplined. BECU has the flexibility to adapt to how we operate,” Jon said.
Going forward, the couple is exploring other ways of giving back to the local Spokane community they've grown so fond of. Business is booming, and their dedication to quality is earning rave reviews from customers.
“I think the biggest one for me is the satisfaction that Jamie and I make this happen,” Jon said. “Our success is us and our failure is us.”
To learn more about JRA Restoration, visit www.jrarestoration.com.