Capital CDC Borrower Qualtech Automotive Showcased in Austin Business Journal

Billy Leavings, owner and president of Austin-area Qualtech Automotive repair shops, got his start in the industry early on.

“I came from a lower-middle-class family,” Leavings said. “We were always fixing things.”

Growing up in Houston, Leavings watched his father — who worked in the oil industry — get “hands on” with the cars and other machines in the household. When Leavings was 15, he bought a classic Ford Mustang that was in terrible condition. It taught him how to be a mechanic.

“I’d have to come home every day to fix it just to drive it to school the next day so it could break again,” he said.

Leavings got his first job at an auto-parts store — mostly so he could get the employee discount to lower his repair costs. He rose through the ranks to become manager before going to work for Lamb’s Tire & Automotive. He eventually moved to Austin, and in 2010 bought a repair shop that he renamed Qualtech.

Now he’s getting ready to expand his business further. He recently opened a second shop in Bee Cave, and is looking to spend roughly $250,000 on renovations to the facility. His company made the list of Austin Business Journal’s Fast 50 companies in 2013, and he expects $2 million in revenue this year and $3 million in 2015.

What are you like to work for? We hire people that can be trusted to make their own decisions. There’s a clear expectation set, but there’s also a lot of leeway. The guys aren’t micromanaged.

How do you cultivate the culture at your work? There’s a lot of socializing. Indoor kart racing, dinners out — things that keeps the guys together. The biggest part of that, though, is your hiring choices. It’s about finding the right person.

What is the best part of your job? Just helping people out. Most of our customers come in, and they’re really in a bad place. We do a really good job of solving these problems in the best way that we can. I think it’s working. Every year around the holidays, I gain 10 pounds because of all the cakes and pies we get from customers.

What’s the worst part of your job? There’s nothing that’s terrible. It’s probably not right to say ‘paying taxes,’ but we love what we do.

Do you have a mentor who inspired you? Definitely Mr. Lamb the most. He’s a firecracker, but he definitely had his values right. Every letter, good or bad, crossed his desk — even when it was a $30 million company with 15,000 customers per month.

Where is your favorite place to eat in Austin? Eddie V’s downtown. There’s someone playing live piano and there’s great seafood. It’s definitely our anniversary or birthday place.

Do you play any sports? I played football and ran track in high school. About my junior year in high school I was within a couple of inches of the school pole vaulting record, and I was fortunate enough to win a track and field scholarship at the University of Houston.

What’s your favorite vacation spot? Probably right now, it’s the Grand Cayman Islands. Great seafood and a good beach for the kids.

What is something that most people don’t know about you? That I’m a pretty good cook. I can rebuild a rear-end and make good étouffée.

What is the biggest misconception people have about your industry? That you have to take your car to the dealer to keep your warranty intact. It’s untrue, and dealerships will openly lie to you about that.

In 2025, where do you see your company? We’ll keep it small, around Austin. We’ll probably keep it to a maximum of five stores. That’s the intent, at least.

This article from the Austin Business Journal can be found here.