Rick Hughlett, president
Rick Hughlett, president
2012 is shaping up to be a banner year for Rick’s Automotive.

In May, the company received the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2012 W. Curtis Strube Small Business Award.

For Rick Hughlett, founder and president of Rick’s Automotive, nabbing the honor was the culmination of more than three decades of service in the Springfield community.

“It’s kind of like a lifetime achievement award for me,” Hughlett says of the award.

The automotive shop, founded in 1980 with two employees, has grown to employ 35 and in 2011, posted revenues of $5.1 million, up 6.3 percent from $4.8 million in 2010.

“We have never had a year that wasn’t larger than the previous year in 32 years,” Hughlett says.

Hughlett is projecting 20 percent revenue growth this year, largely as a result of the company’s recent $2 million, 14,000-square-foot expansion on South Campbell Avenue. The new space enabled the company to add 10 bays and five employees.

“We were turning too many people away,” Hughlett says. “It’s not a matter of getting the cars here. We’ve got the business. It’s just being able to get it under roof to do the repairs.”

Hughlett characterizes Rick’s Automotive as a one-stop shop that offers quick-service repairs such as oil and tire changes to more extensive engine and transmission repairs.

In addition to servicing vehicles for individual drivers, Hughlett says the company also maintains 150 fleets, including CoxHealth and Mercy ambulances for 16 area counties.

In March, the company received the Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics from the Better Business Bureau of Southwest Missouri, recognizing the company’s promotion of ethical business practices and commitment to honesty and integrity. In giving out the award, BBB officials noted that Rick’s Automotive employees go out of their way to make sure customers understand and are comfortable with the work being done on their vehicles.

The reason the company earned that award is simple, according to Hughlett.

“It’s basically by taking care of each employee and each customer the best we can every time,” he says.

He also points to employee longevity, noting that several employees have been with Rick’s Automotive for nearly 25 years, and more than half of the staff members have worked at the shop for more than a decade.

Hughlett says the company’s technicians work in teams specializing in different repairs.

“It’s kind of a like a hospital atmosphere,” he says. “We have our heart teams. We’ve got our bone and joint teams. Whatever type of problem the customer has, we have teams that are trained to handle that.”

Hughlett also believes in giving back to the community through his business, which commits about $150,000 worth of volunteer contributions per year.

“The community supports my business, which supports my 35 families that work for me,” he says. “In turn, we give back, and it completes the circle of a strong community.”

Click here for full coverage of the 2012 Business Class.