For the past 11 years, Chris Holstrom has been in the dream-making business in Puyallup, WA. Holstrom, owner of Chris Holstrom Concepts, says his shop’s team prides itself on building some of the best fully functioning ground-up hot rods from scratch, but also on providing service, repairs and routine maintenance on custom vehicles.
It’s only fitting – Puyallup has a “small town feel” while being a part of a larger urban center, just shy of an hour away from Seattle. Puyallup means “generous people”, and Holstrom can attest to how accurate the name is. It’s a wonderful place full of kind people, some he’s known his entire life.
Holstrom Concepts originally started as a side hustle, while Holstrom managed a general repair shop. When the day finally came to take the leap and go full time, he says it was just him and his wife, Alyssa, $6,000 in their bank account, and a signed lease to their new shop. Now, they proudly employ 9 people – 3 office personnel and 6 technicians. Chris says he’s the most proud of the fact that he “can step back and see that they’ve created a space where people are free to thrive in their talents.”
In addition to serving the performance needs of the local community, Holstrom Concepts has built several cars for the national stage, including SEMA and Barrett- Jackson. Holtstrom says that one of the best parts of being in the classics industry is being able to connect with others who love creating amazing cars. Within the small industry of custom car repair, Holstrom and his team stand out simply because they get stuff done. By applying the organizational management of a general automotive shop to the classic car world, their shop runs smooth as butter.
However, Holstrom says he hasn’t always enjoyed such efficiency. “Before becoming a DRIVE client, I felt guilty every time I asked for a day off from the job,” He says. “I wasn’t getting the freedom that was supposed to come with owning your own business. I spent many nights lying awake, wondering if my business was going to make it.”
Now, he says his shop is well-functioning, with procedures in place that work. “It basically runs itself and is profitable,” he says. “We produce quality work in a timely manner – with the right people in place, we’re now able to execute any vision we please!”
When he first started the business, he says wore all of the “hats.” Once he took a step back and let others do what they needed to, he found that his team members do their jobs better than he ever could. “I love being able to stand back and be thankful for what everyone as a team can accomplish.”
Today, when he’s not at the shop, Holstrom can be found spending quality time with his family. He and his wife have been married for 22 years and, together, they have three kids all under the age of 13. They can often be found spending time at their local church and helping out any way they can. Whenever they get the chance, the whole family will pack into their car for a road trip to explore the country.
Chris enjoys building relationships with his fellow shop owners, and he says the best way to do it is at the DRIVE EXPO. At a past gathering, he says he heard testimonies from DRIVE clients receiving their master’s certification, telling their stories about the struggles they faced and how much better their day to day is now. “Being a business owner is one of the loneliest professions out there,” Holstrom says. “Employees think you are rich, customers think you can just ‘help them out,’ and nobody else understands the struggles you face day to day. The networking allows a shop owner to feel like we are not alone in the struggles of running a shop.”
His best advice for other shop owners? “Put others in the position to make your shop successful,” Holstrom says. “Give them a game plan and get out of their way!”