Optimum Auto Puts Faith into Practice
Optimum Auto Service bills itself as “Your Trustworthy Mechanic” and lives up to that promise. Honesty is critical to owner Basit Alqubaisi.
Basit says customers come to the shop based on trust. “I look at each customer as gaining a new friend, not in terms of the dollars their business will bring” he says.
Basit came to Edmonton from Jordan as a student in 1996. When his father’s fortunes changed and he could no longer afford to continue in school, he worked as a labourer, but quickly realized he’d never get ahead that way. He’d always liked cars and had worked on them as a hobby since he was young, so apprenticed as a mechanic — first working for free for a summer to get signed up, gain experience, learn the terminology in English and learn the system.
He was a journeyman, with a wife and five-month-old child, when he lost his job at an auto dealership. He took a course on micro business offered through the government, borrowed money from his in-laws, bought used equipment and started his business, renting one of the bays in the building he now owns at 8416 118th Avenue. Expansion didn’t happen overnight, but as other tenants moved out of the building, Optimum Auto took over more and more space and added more mechanics. By 2007, Basit was renting the whole building and he bought it in 2013.
Optimum Auto started on 118th Avenue because there was space for rent and it was cheap at the time. “There was a prostitute on every corner,” Basit describes the area, but it is close to downtown, the north side, the arena, and is busy during the day. He says the City has helped with the revitalization. “The demographic is changing. There are all races here now.”
Because he’s suffered from discrimination, Basit won’t tolerate it. “I hire males or females of all nationalities, as long as they’re willing to work,” he says. Staff are not considered expendable. “I care about each staff member and we work as a family.”
Basit feels he owes Canada a lot. “I’ve been treated far better than I would have been in my own country where you have to know somebody to get anywhere,” he says. “Home is where you find peace and love. My wife and kids and friends are here. This is home.”
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