“Be direct and professional, and not intimidated by anyone just because of the industry you work in. Perseverance is key.” –Elissa Roberts

Elissa and her husband Charles started Chuck’s Auto Repair in July of 2012. A woman with a business degree, Elissa saw Charles’s talents as a mechanic as a way to open and run their own business. Both Elissa and Charles love the connections that Chuck’s Auto Repair gives them. “We love the location the most,” Elissa said. “We have a huge opportunity to bless other people’s lives since we’re so close to the children’s hospital.”

Located on the Michigan Street Corridor, and just down the road from the Medical Mile and DeVos Children’s Hospital, Elissa and her husband feel blessed to be a part of the community. They also enjoy the flexibility of owning their own business—they don’t work weekends, allowing them to spend quality time both together, and with family.

In the initial phases of researching and starting their business, Elissa and Charles found that as a female entrepreneur, Elissa was better able to secure funding for their startup. While Elissa spoke with several different people at banks about business loans, she wasn’t getting very far. Eventually, one of the loan representatives she met with mentioned an organization in town that provided microloans. Elissa went home to research the organization on the Internet, and it was then that she found GROW.

GROW’s Microloan Program

Like many of our Microloan clients, Elissa was finding that securing traditional small business loans was nearly impossible. She and Charles had a solid business plan, the experience and most of the other details to start their business sorted out. The one item they were lacking was the capital for the building and equipment to get them started. Businesses like Chucks Auto Repair, who are great contributors to the local economy and their communities, are exactly why the Microloan program is so important to Grand Rapids Entrepreneurs.

Throughout the last five years, Elissa has stayed connected with GROW through our microloan staff and utilizing additional resources that we provide for small business owners. “They’ve given us so much advice on running our business in general,” Elissa said. In addition to staying in contact with the microloan staff, Elissa also attends classes and events whenever she can.

Advice for Others

When it comes to advice she might offer to other business owners, she says, “Don’t ever give up. It’s worth it.” She also says that although the auto repair industry is a man’s world, she’s figured out how to fit in. “Be direct and professional, and not intimidated by anyone just because of the industry you work in. Perseverance is key.”