Buckle Down And Go

Tuesday, March 15, 2022 | March 2022

Caleb Shrout, owner. L&M Auto Repair, Wichita, Kan. with wife standing outside shopI’VE HAD A PASSION FOR CARS SINCE I WAS A TEENAGER.  It all started with my ‘54 F100 that my dad and I purchased from a salvage yard and then fixed up. It was my first vehicle and I still drive it all the time. That passion only continued to grow, and while I was in school getting my bachelor’s degree in business Administration, I had a side business fixing professors’ and other students’ cars in the parking lot. After college, I was still unsure of my choice in careers until a gentleman from church was retiring from the auto repair business and wanted to sell me his shop. After being rejected by countless banks I finally found one that would take a chance on me. I had to borrow money from 3 different relatives and have my parents put their house up as collateral to make the deal happen.  So, in Sept 2006 I became the 3rd owner of what was then called L&M Shocks & Trailer Hitches.

Then, in 2012 I was diagnosed with brain cancer.

My optometrist actually was the one who caught it, I was suffering from migraines and issues with my vision. I’m not really a “beat around the bush” type of guy, so when he told me I needed to do a full resection (taking the whole thing out) in a few months, I told them to get it done now. I then had a bunch of chemotherapy thrown my way.

Thankfully, I have an incredible wife, Erin (who was eight months pregnant when I was first diagnosed), and an amazing crew at my shop that have evolved and changed over the years and have helped hold down the fort through everything. I could literally leave the shop and it would still run, which was a huge blessing. My whole team had my back because they knew what I was going through. My wife is amazing and has helped me adjust to life now. She joined the business in 2016, and every year since has been our best year yet. The cancer came back in 2018 and I had to have another surgery and chemotherapy and radiation but I just refuse to let it stop me.

God is so faithful and has brought me through all of this.  

In a situation like mine, you can either feel sorry for yourself, or you can buckle down and go—I chose the latter.

You never know what is going to happen in life, and with your business, my biggest piece of advice is to make sure that your team has your back. Treat your employees like you want to be treated and be a true leader, not a boss. Treat your customers like royalty, make things simple to understand and give them choices. Build trust and relationships  that they cannot find anywhere else.

This diagnosis continues to be ongoing; I have to get MRIs every six months and I’m loaded up on medicine all the time. My vision is still highly affected, I have no left hemispherical vision in either eye and can’t see half of what others can. Stress can also really affect me now, and I have to physically go home sometimes. But I can trust that my manager and team will 100 percent take care of our customers because we have the same customer service vision and mindset.

⁠This has all been quite a ride, but every day is a gift.