13 Shop Profile • CAR-RISMA C ustomization, family values, and lifelong comradery. If you had to use three words to describe Car-risma, Inc. in Lowell, Massachusetts, these might be the best three. Though, when you talk to co-owners like Paul Breton or Ron Joyal, it’s a little harder to find just the right words. In business since 1978, it’s no surprise to find two partners behind Car-risma who really know what it takes to stay in business for the long haul. Sure, Breton and Joyal are successful and proud of what they have built together, yet theymodestly acknowledge the many people along the way who have helped get them where they are today. Focus and Family Car-risma has been in action for 40 years. As a self-declared automotive toy store, “We sell everything in the Keystone book, which is a 1,000-page catalog,” says Breton. The store also provides tint work, remote- starter installs, and services for all sorts of modern creature comforts. Located in Lowell, Massachusetts, this is the go-to place for all things automotive in the New England area. Four decades of success, and they never forgot their humble beginnings. “We started out in North Chelmsford,” says Breton. “There were some commercial bays and that’s where we started. Right when the gas rations were closing in ’78. Not the best time to start a business, but that’s when we did.” Joyal’s parents were gearing up for retirement at the time when his father, Roger Joyal, decided to help get the business off the ground. After a few years, theymoved to their current location in Lowell. “We started at the low end; there was only one way to go,” says Breton. Car-risma has battled a few odds over the years, but the business proved its worth straight out the gate by launching during a rough time in America’s history. The kind of guy to give credit where credit is due, Breton makes it clear that the contributions of his partner’s parents were instrumental in those early years. Today, the company boasts a 3,000 sq. ft. showroom, including a state-of-the- art sound room nicknamed the “Temple of Boom,” and, thanks toKeystone, awarehouse of over 300,000 parts. I get by with a little help from my friends... Car-risma, like many other shops, also had to battle the Great Recession, an event that proved to be a test of will and skill for even the shrewdest business people. More so, though, it brought to light what kind of support system the business had behind it. Determination to succeed was surely a big part of making it through the hard times, but Breton makes a point of showing appreciation for his Keystone sales rep turned friend. “Without Timmy Space, we wouldn’t be here today.” Space is one of only two Keystone sales reps Car-risma has ever had. Dedicated to his customer, Space helped generate business and keep the staff at Car-risma motivated when things looked dim. Breton shares that during one particularly rough winter, Space went through the ringer to take care of him. “I was ready to close the doors, and Timmy literally saved Christmas,” says Breton. People forget how important it is to foster the relationship between business owner and sales rep. Not only is he or she a viable source for parts and product information but in times of need, that’s the one who looks out for you. Tim Space has touched the lives of many shop owners throughout his decades at Keystone, and his customers recognize that. The loyalty, care, and dedication he shows in his work is evident in the way that customers like Car-risma speak about him. No“I” In TEAM In an effort to find Car-risma’s secret for success, we asked Breton what their tricks of the trade are. He simply said, “The loyalty of my wife of 47 years and my business partner, Ron, of 40 years.” They have surely weathered many storms together. And while they clearly contribute to the business in their own talented ways, it’s clear from Breton’s tone of voice that having the support of his wife and the dedication and skill of Joyal means the world to him and Car-risma. The softer side of this shop profile is to reiteratewhen a customer enters the building, they don’t want someone who is just going to collect their money, tell them what mods to make, or how to execute the project timeline. Customers want something more…someone whose demeanor communicates the same passion and excitement—a shop vested in them and their project build. Car-risma is run by a tight-knit group comprised of Breton’s family and friends who have combated the odds to come out on top every time. Sure, a well-stocked showroom and track record of beautifully- done work say a lot, but the personality and character of the people who make up the business are the real indicator that Car- risma is the kind of auto shop from which to take a cue—congratulations on 40 years going strong, Breton! CAR-RISMA Rings In 40th Anniversary