New faces at Black Diamond
Former owner 'thrilled' to hand shop over
Steamboat Springs — It’s hard to believe that Charlie Holthausen will really step away from Black Diamond Automotive.
True, he sold the business last month to a pair of mechanics. True, he and his wife, Gail, hope to spend more time together and travel to see their children. True, Charlie Holthausen offered deals to move the business faster.
But it’s also true he seems to like hanging out with the new owners, Jeff Lewis and Joe Ross. And it’s also true Gail Holthausen still owns and runs the Potter’s Wheel, which adjoins Black Diamond on Acre Lane in western Steamboat Springs.
Either way, Charlie Holthausen is helping Lewis and Ross with the transition and said he trusted the pair with his business.
“I’m so thrilled with these guys,” Holthausen said. “I’m really happy.”
Lewis and Ross were mechanics working next to each other at Steamboat Motors when Holthausen put his business up for sale after 13 years. Lewis has worked on cars for 30 years and Ross has been in the business for about five years. Both wanted something more personal than a dealership.
“You don’t get that face-to-face contact,” Ross said. “I didn’t like the idea of a person going away and me fixing a noise I heard but they didn’t hear.”
Lewis, a soft-spoken man who came here from Memphis, Tenn., has master certification in Automotive Service Excellence. Ross, who has certification in ASE, has business experience from running a music store in Minnesota.
The new guys are making few changes, Ross said.
“We lowered the price on some stuff to try to be a little more competitive,” he said. “Other than that, we’re trying to make Charlie’s customers happy.”
Under the new owners, Black Diamond will be open Monday through Friday and by appointment Saturday mornings. Holthausen didn’t do clutch or engine work, but Lewis and Ross will. The pair also will take over the automotive courses he taught at Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus.
Gail Holthausen slipped over from the Potter’s Wheel, which she also plans to sell, to endorse the pair.
“What a relief to find someone who can actually fill his shoes,” she said, adding that she feels confident in referring customers to Lewis and Ross.
Charlie Holthausen said his wife also was relieved when Ross agreed to share medical duties for the elderly cat that roams between the businesses.
“It almost broke Gail’s heart when Joe said he’d be willing to take care of Pumpkin,” Holthausen said with a grin.
Lewis and Ross said they were pleased to inherit Holthausen’s established business. The community of independent mechanics also has helped them with the transition, they said, and the new guys are building their own reputation.
“Jeff has already had another shop bring a diesel over for a repair,” Holthausen said.
Still, Ross said, they have to prove themselves to Holthausen’s customers.
“We’re winning them over one by one, but you can tell how much they appreciate Charlie,” Ross said.
The bottom line, Lewis and Ross said, is that they are responsible for every repair.
“When you call here, when you come here, you get Jeff or me,” Ross said. “We get to stand behind our work that way.”
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