Today we are excited to introduce you to Steven (Steve) Clausen, owner and operator of Clausen Automotive and P&B Truck Accessories.
The Road to Entrepreneurship
Fueled by a desire to be self-employed and to use the skills he learned working at Chevrolet, Steve set out to purchase his own shop in 1975. The garage was originally located on Milwaukee Street in Madison, WI. Back then, Steve worked on cars and trucks that had carburetors, points, and plugs. All of these are now things of the past and Clausen Automotive has since transitioned to its current location on Stoughton Road, where the types of cars they work on have also evolved… More on that to come.
Next to Clausen Automotive sat a retail shop: P&B Truck Accessories. The shop was owned by a company named Penda, who had originally purchased it from 2 gentlemen by the names of Paris and Burns (where the P&B came from). After a few years in business, Penda decided to stick with manufacturing, so the retail business, which sat in a building adjacent to Clausen Automotive, went up for sale. In January of 1990, Steve and his wife decided it would be the perfect opportunity to expand their business. They bought P&B Truck Accessories, which is now the largest truck accessories store in the city of Madison.
Changing Gears: Innovation and Success
One of the most poignant aspects of Clausen Automotive and P&B Truck Accessories is that they stay nimble and relevant in the current market by adapting to new challenges and industry upgrades. This is a process Steve has prioritized since his first days in the automotive industry. While employed at Chevrolet, Steve worked on air conditioning when it was relatively new and there weren’t many mechanics who knew how to service it. Now, Steve and his team have gone from being regular mechanics to being electrical technicians as well, adapting to service the electronic equipment now present in many makes and models. In keeping with the innovation of the industry, Clausen Automotive now specializes in working on hybrid and electric vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius, instead of sticking to the basic gasoline engines. This is a specialty that can be hard to find in other independent automotive shops.
While the vehicles they service are quick to change, so is the accessory business. A challenge of the vehicle accessory industry is that when new accessories become available, the car manufacturers often take those ideas and begin to incorporate them into their designs. So. staying abreast of the evolving accessory landscape is what has allowed them to ride out the waves of the market all these years. They are now widely known for both their expertise and the high-quality line of products they provide. One example is Ziebart products, which include vehicle rustproofing and paint protection – a product ideal for ensuring your vehicle can withstand the infamous Wisconsin winters.
Getting the Job Done Right the First Time
Steve attributes the rest of his success to being laser-focused on customer service. He and his associates are not happy until the customer is happy. While they continue to focus on new trends in both businesses, they pair that with an emphasis on getting the job done right the first time, going out of their way to fix a problem, and providing superb customer service that keeps customers coming back time and time again.
Investing in His Community
From being in business for himself to adding employees, Steve has always felt he had the right people working for him and chose to invest in his employees from the get-go. His focus was finding the right training to ensure they were comfortable in their skills as the industry evolved.
One thing is clear: Steve’s businesses and the Madison community are better because he is a part of them. Steve’s unique and always-evolving knowledge base in automotive repair gave him the platform he needed for success as he worked to bring quality service to all who entrusted them with their vehicles.