Generations Demonstrate that Quality Work Stands the Test of Time
Local Portland-area body shop spans three generations of business celebrating 75th anniversary
June 23, 2021 // Franchising.com // Portland, OR - Fix Auto Portland East, Fix Auto Gladstone and Fix Auto Clackamas are all a part of a longstanding family business, spanning three generations, now celebrating its 75th anniversary of business. With only about 40% of U.S. family-owned businesses turned into second-generation businesses and only about 13% successfully passed down to a third generation, this is an incredible feat for the Eber-Bray family.
Jim Eber joined Roth & Miller Autobody as a body man in 1955, a Portland business that first opened in 1946. Although Jim Eber left the business for a brief period to work for a local insurance company, he came back in 1963 and purchased the facility with his wife.
“Grandpa always loved cars, learning how they worked, the mechanics behind them and how to fix them,” says William Bray, co-owner, Fix Auto Portland East. “Grandma was a partner from the start of the business but joined the shop full-time as a bookkeeper in 1971. Together, they built a reputation in the community as a hardworking, family-run body shop. Grandpa’s passion was infectious, and I think that is how my Aunt Camille got into the business.”
With four children, Jim and Doris Eber’s third, Camille Eber, decided to enter the business. Like her father, Camille loved cars. She also loved the idea of operating and owning a business, carrying on what her parents had built, through good and hard times. She joined the team full-time in 1986 and worked diligently to learn the trade and make her way in a male-dominated field. In 2000 she was one of seven honored with the industry’s “Most Influential Women” award.
“Like grandpa, Aunt Camille has a deep affinity for cars,” continues Bray. “She bought the business from grandpa a couple of years after grandma unexpectedly passed away - having only spent three years in the shop. She had to go after the knowledge she needed, whether it was the trade, estimating or even business management. She earned accreditations from the Automotive Management Institute, she’s certified by the Masters School of Autobody, she’s ASE-certified and I-CAR trained. Nothing was ever given to her. She grew the business to two locations and even became the first facility in the Portland area to earn the prestigious I-CAR Gold certification. As I grew older, I looked up to Aunt Camille, much like she looked up to grandpa and grandma.”
William Bray, Camille Eber’s nephew, said he inherited the “car gene” in the family.
“I remember as early as 5 coming into the shop with my mom because she wanted to visit my aunt,” recalls Bray. “I always looked forward to visiting Aunt Camille. When I was 11, I asked if I could work there after school to earn some extra money. My mom would drop me off, or I would take the bus, just so I could spend time in the shop.”
Bray enrolled in a senior co-op program in high school, so he could learn more about the trade. Spending time with his Aunt Camille, he learned the ins and outs of the business, from repair processes to office management. Much like his aunt, Bray is also an Accredited Automotive Manager, ASE-Certified and I-CAR trained.
“More than anything else, I’ve learned the importance of repair quality,” continued Bray. “I work so hard to hone my skills, continue training and deliver premier customer service because the quality of our work is what has built our legacy in the community. I’ll never forget Aunt Camille saying, ‘we never want to be in a position where we are grocery shopping with our families, and we have to duck and hide from customers because we’re embarrassed by the repair experience - we want to be able to greet customers when we see them.’”
William Bray has been a partner in the business for eight years now. It is still a family-owned operation as William’s brother James is the production manager and William’s wife, Iala, is the office manager. The team even partnered with another set of family operators, brothers Dave and Joey McCollum, to open their third facility, Fix Auto Clackamas.
“We joined the Fix Auto USA network because it’s a recognized name across the industry that is well-respected with values rooted in trust, commitment and care - aligning with our long-standing legacy,” continues Bray. “We are still an independently owned and operated family business, but now have access to the extended Fix Auto USA family, which has helped us enhance our operations and introduce us to other like-minded owners.”
With three children as well as twins on the way, William and Iala Bray look forward to seeing where their family business will take them next.
Fix Auto USA, an industry-leading collision repair network, is proudly celebrating its 10th anniversary of business collision repair center.
SOURCE Fix Auto USA
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