Towny Waco: Where’s Your Honest Car Guy? Brown Auto Repair

(Welcome to the Act Locally Waco/Towny blog series. Towny is an app that exists to connect consumers with local businesses. It’s fairly new to Waco and is loaded with answers to the question, “Why local?” Through this blog series, the folks at Towny will be sharing the stories behind some of our high-quality, local products and helping you get to know some of our energetic local entrepreneurs. We hope you enjoy it! Supporting local business is a terrific way to support the Waco economy! Plus, it’s just fun to get to know your neighbors. For more posts in this blog series, click here: Towny Waco.– ALW)

by Beth Whittington

There are people you just get a good feeling about. Good on their word, inability to be anything but transparent. Honest, hard-working, fair.

Meet Phillip Brown of Brown Auto Repair in Waco!

We had a chat about what makes Brown Auto the place to be in Waco when your car’s (fill-in-the-blank) goes out. Customer-focused and seriously good for a laugh, enjoy what we learned from Phillip about Brown’s below!

WHAT SETS BROWN AUTO REPAIR APART?

Most of my customers are clientele I’ve dealt with for ten to 17 years.

When I was working for other shops, they were customers there. I went out on my own and a lot of them followed me. And that’s just because they like my work. They trusted me. We don’t have that typical stereotype of your JiffyLube or something. We’re a family-owned business. Most of my business has come off of word of mouth, a friend telling a friend.

I HEAR YOU’RE ONE OF THE NICEST GUYS AROUND. IS THAT TRUE?

Napa asked Phillip to be a Ron Capps’ honorary crew member.

“OH! Well, depends on who you ask!” he laughs, “But yeah, I mean we try to treat everybody fair. You must be reading my reviews.”

(I wasn’t, but it caused me to want to!) Here’s a peek at a Brown Auto Repair customer review:

“First time but will be my go-to place for now on. The team is friendly and willing to go the extra mile. They treated me with the best care and the price was amazing. It was one of those shops that when you pay you know you got your money’s worth. How many other shops can you say that about? Again, thank you for your speedy help in a time crunch.” Armando R., 10/24/18

(Thanks, Armando.)

WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

“I’ve been in Waco all my life.”

One of Brown’s clients: DPS’ State Troopers

I ask Phillip about Brown’s pricing, compared to other businesses in the area. He lets me know without meaning to let me know they are significantly under what some are charging, and a little cheaper than everybody else. He called it a “very competitive rate.”

I get the feeling this place is capable of handling the city’s trust. Oddly enough, Brown Auto does handle the region’s trust:  “We do all of the service work for the Department of Public Safety, the DPS, around here. The State Troopers.”

HOW’D YOU START BROWN’S ANYWAY?

I bought it from Danny Dennis. He was here, shoot, since the 70s, built a new building in the 90s, and then he retired and that’s when I bought the business from him. Well, actually bought the building and the property; I didn’t buy the clientele or the name. I built the clientele.

WILL YOU SHARE A STORY WITH US?

“Yeah! There was a gentleman here last year. He was traveling from Austin to Dallas. He was actually entered in the Major League Baseball draft and he was trying to get from Austin to Dallas to be there for the draft and his alternator went out here in Waco.

It was about 5:00 o’clock in the afternoon when it went out. He pulled up, was freaking out because– (Phillip chuckles as he remembers) he was trying to go to the major leagues on draft day and his alternator went out!

I was able to have the part sent to me and we stayed, oh, about an hour and a half two hours after close. Got him going just so he could get to where he needed to be.”

THAT’S CERTAINLY VERY KIND.

“And, you know, I don’t want to do that every day, but he was appreciative of it. He told me when he made it big and famous he’d give me a spot on the radio.”

“There was another gentleman who’d been through Hurricane Harvey. They were flooded out and he had a vacant rent house in Fort Worth they had been meaning to do some work on, so he and his family loaded up an RV and traveled there.

In the meantime, his truck that he pulls the RV with, the clutch went out while he was in Fort Worth. He had a clutch put in by another shop. He was coming down 35. They didn’t tighten some stuff up on the driveshaft and driveline and it threw all of that out of the truck.

He got his truck and RV towed to me, we parked the RV in our yard for about three days. The Dodge parts had to come out of Detroit, Michigan so we were waitin’ on parts. He had a cruise scheduled, so he left all of his stuff here after they stayed a few days in the parking lot and they went to the cruise and when they got back, we had his stuff ready and he came and picked it up.

There are a couple of instances where people are just like, ‘What do I do?!’ Like I say, it’s not what you want to do but, you kind of put yourself in their shoes and you kinda gotta– well, I like to do what’s right and that’s what we did.”

WOW, THAT’S REALLY OVER AND ABOVE.

“We try to take care of our customers and like I say, I’ll probably never see the guy again. But you know, it got him on his way. It ain’t all about money and repeat customers because good things will come back to you.”

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU WHEN SOMEONE CHOOSES TO SHOP LOCAL VS. GOING TO A CHAIN?

We give them a personal relationship. I mean, I’m here answering the phone. I’m talking to the customers every day; it’s not a guy that’s hired off and paid to do that. This is my business and I’m here every day and that’s what sets us apart from a chain or somebody that just is there for the money.

I didn’t get into this to be rich or become rich because you’re not going to. I got into this because I was a mechanic for many years and I didn’t like what I saw people doing to just common folk, taking advantage of them and just– the upselling, telling them they need all their fluids changed when they didn’t. I got tired of seeing that, I was able to do my own thing, and here we are.

Been doing it so long, I really don’t know anything else other than maybe cowboyin’.

If you’ve got natural talent– I see kids all the time that say, ‘I want to be a mechanic.’ And they go to school and get all the credentials and graduate and they can’t fix a ham sandwich let alone a car.

SO, WHAT DOES WACO NEED TO KNOW YOU GUYS OFFER?

We do all major automotive repairs, A/C and heat, motors, transmissions, rear ends, brakes. The only things that we don’t do are state inspections, alignments, and tires.

We do all the major repairs, engine work – the big stuff, that’s what we do.

*****

Hey, Waco. When you take your car by Brown’s for “the big stuff,” it pays Phillip’s staff, cares for his kids, and supports his local dreams. It also supports your local economy, and that’s good because then we’re taking care of our teachers, first responders, and things like our roads.


Beth Whittington remembers sitting on the Waco suspension bridge as a girl, visiting family friends. Legs dangling off, watching the Fourth of July fireworks spark the sky. Been a Waco local for the better part of 19 years.  Gaps explainable by the awkwardly untrue term of “ex-missionary.” Beth thrives on: generating ideas + copywriting. Can’t wait to: visit South Africa. Favorite part of Waco: Bangkok Royale + the HOTHTC. Wants: everyone in Waco to get Towny because it’ll make life better for us all if we let it. 

Take your local support up a notch – pop in Towny + have a look around. When you use Towny, the free app that guides you to shop local, YOU get REWARDED, on top of all that goodness. Don’t wait – it only benefits you! Download Towny here or for the anti-app-users among us, just hop over here!

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.org for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

Better Living for Texans: Turkey Day is Near!

(As I’m sure most of you probably know, one of our Prosper Waco community goals is McLennan County residents will live healthier lifestyles and access the best available care. With that in mind Act Locally Waco is teaming up with Better Living for Texans to bring you a monthly blog post full of tips for healthy living. For more of the posts in this series, click here: Better Living for Texans. – ALW)

by Lindsey Breunig

November may have just begun but the Thanksgiving holiday will be here sooner than we think! From the food, to the guests, to travels, or planning around a football game, Thanksgiving can be simple or a day of hustle. There will always be the unexpected, but creating a plan for your Thanksgiving will help ease stress, keep the family healthy and safe, and better yet make your Turkey Day restful. Below I will talk about some tips and share recipes all in the spirit of Thanksgiving. So, let’s start planning!

Turkey 101:

There are many new and alternative ways to cook the turkey. Some will stick to the traditional oven baked while others are ready to explore new options. Whatever you choose it’s important to know which methods are safe and which are not. Remember that no matter the method – the minimum internal temperature for a whole, cooked turkey is 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Always, always, ALWAYS check for doneness with a thermometer. A beautifully browned turkey can still be frozen solid inside. Doing a temperature check is preferable to worrying about getting guests sick.

When taking the temperature, insert the food thermometer in the thickest part of the food, away from bone, fat, or gristle. If your turkey comes with a pop-up thermometer, it is still recommended to check with a conventional food thermometer as an added precaution to gauge both safety and doneness.

It is also important that you carefully read the instructions for the cooking method and that you wash your hands, utensils, and counters that may have been contacted by raw turkey. You do not need to wash the turkey. Let’s look at a few safe and unsafe methods:

Safe, alternative methods include:

  • The Oven cooking bag method involves preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and should produce a moist-heat cooking environment for the turkey (use fresh or thawed turkey for this method).
  • The Fried method is usually done with smaller turkeys (8-10 pounds) and peanut oil.
  • The Grilled method is also used with smaller, unstuffed turkeys, weighing 8 to 14 pounds. The oven should be set between 325 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit to grill a turkey.

 Unsafe, alternative methods include:

  • The Brown Paper Bag Method involves placing the turkey in a large brown paper bag and cooking. Chemicals in the bag may seep into the food, making it unsafe.
  • The Slow-cooking overnight method puts you and your dinner guests at risk of food poisoning due to the low cooking temperature used.
  • The Trash Bag method involves placing the turkey in a trash bag and marinating it for several hours at room temperature, which could result in bacteria buildup.

 Sides – Ingredient stock up and recipe collecting:

Are you planning to use that favorite recipe you already have memorized? Or do you like to change up the menu? Maybe a little of both? Start collecting recipes now rather than the week of Thanksgiving. By collecting new recipes, you may find a new family favorite, introduce new flavors, or learn new ways to alter meals in a healthier manner.

Once the menu is set, it is time to hit the grocery store. While you are out now start purchasing ingredients you know you need. Take note of sales and purchase the must-have-items before going out of stock. Canned ingredients, frozen items, spices, or boxed items will last, and even the turkey can be stored in the freezer. Stock up today and reduce your risk of special ingredients being sold out or having to pay full price!

Recipe prep can sometimes take longer than the recipe implies so go ahead and prep side dishes and desserts the day before. Chop veggies or prep ingredients to avoid a cluttered counter space the day of. Veggies like onions, carrots, peppers, celery, and garlic can be stored in containers or plastic bags in the fridge to use as needed on Thanksgiving Day.

Food Safety Reminder: When re-warming up dishes, use a food thermometer to keep the family safe. Anything being reheated should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fitness:

It is well understood the calorie intake on Thanksgiving increases. (I am equally guilty!) Thanksgiving focuses on food and tradition, so why not create active traditions of your own! Participate in your local turkey trot or create your own with family and friends. Plan your route alongside your favorite designations (maybe downtown, along the river, or at Cameron Park?) and walk, run, or jog before the day even starts! Take advantage of guests visiting, create teams, and play your favorite sport – try football, softball, soccer, or kickball to name a few. Lastly, before settling in for that second slice of pie take a short walk around the neighborhood, your stomach will thank you! Just a few fun ways to burn off excess calories and spend quality time with friends and family.

A day of Thanks:

No matter what happens, if the sides don’t turn out like the picture or you need some extra gravy on the turkey – it is a day of thanksgiving. Whoever you are with, I challenge each of you to share five things you are thankful for.  Enjoy the day! 

Recipes to try:

Wanting to add some new recipes to the menu? Here are some unique recipes to try!

Cranberry Pumpkin MuffinsThese have become a favorite of mine. Start off Thanksgiving morning in the spirit! I used dried cranberries here.

Turkey Tacos and Cranberry SalsaMake these tacos with leftovers or use the recipe to make mini-street tacos as an appetizer! You can use ground turkey or shred up leftovers. A fun twist!

Pumpkin Pie Parfait  – This dessert is a healthier alternative to traditional pumpkin pie and are a delicious way to get your vitamin A in for the day! When you see orange colored veggies that is visual sign of there being a lot of Beta-Carotene. Beta-carotene is a carotenoid that can be converted into a form of vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is important for maintaining healthy skin, teeth, skin, and promotes good vision, especially in low light.


Lindsey Breunig is a graduate of Baylor University and currently works as the Better Living for Texans Educator for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. She is originally from Grapevine, TX and now calls Waco home. Here in Waco she loves to venture out to Cameron Park, visit the local Farmers Market, and try out the awesome eateries in Waco. If you see her and hear a loud bark, that’s her pup Lucy just saying hello.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.org for more information.

Here’s to a mentally healthy holiday season!

By Cynthia Cunningham

Ready or not, the holiday season is upon us!  I know, it seems like we were just relaxing on our summer vacation. Suddenly, we are flooded with holiday commercials, sales, and music. This festive whammy can knock us off our feet if we are not prepared.

Why can’t we move calmly through the shopping, decorating, cooking and socializing? Could it be that we believe we need to have the “perfect” holidays? After all, that’s what all the holiday movies on Lifetime show us! If they can hold it all together and have the ideal holidays, why can’t we?

First of all, forget Lifetime movies!! After all, they have a whole crew who builds those amazing sets to create the ideal family home decorated beautifully for the holidays. Their lovely laid tables with the perfect food is often not real food. And their families, who get along lovingly, are actors reading a script! What does this tell us? It’s NOT real!! So we must stop comparing our lives to these shows!

So here is our reality: Holidays bring stress, anxiety, depression and just a feeling of being overwhelmed with trying to manage it all!  It’s the time of year that we are more aware of the people we have lost and when we deal with loneliness.  It does not matter your age, we can all be overcome with these feelings.

Secondly, the key to manage your mental health during the holidays is to be mindful of what you are expecting to accomplish. Start with a “To Do” list. Write down everything that you wish to accomplish. Next, break down the items on your “To Do” list and put them on your calendar. This allows you the opportunity to tackle things one day at a time. Seeing things that you need to accomplish on one day is less overwhelming than the whole long list. And you will feel proud each day you are able to mark off a completed item.

Thirdly, allow those around you to help. I know, the kids don’t decorate the tree exactly the way you want it done. Release that control and see how proud they are of what they have created. Or if that doesn’t work for you, sit down with the family and your “To Do” list and see who will agree to take on which task. This shows your family that you are a unit together. And you are teaching younger generations how to handle the holiday chores.

Fourth, to manage those feelings of depression, keep connected. I know this is not always easy. Find ways to volunteer within your community. There are always organizations that can use help. You will be amazed how helping others can chase away those depressed feelings. Or take advantage of the fun activities happening in your community. You could take a class on making ornaments, join a group going caroling or visiting nursing homes during their craft time. If these activities feel too much for you, ask your family and friends to check in on you. There is no shame in admitting that you struggle during the holidays. When you are open about your feelings with them, it gives them permission to be a part of helping you through the rough times.

Fifth, when dealing with a loss, embrace the happy memories. You can create a new tradition to keep the memory of your loved one alive. For example, if they had a cause that was dear to them, find a way the family can help that cause. Again, check in with your family and friends and let them know if you are struggling with the loss and ask for help getting through the holidays.

Lastly, just know that nobody’s holiday is perfect. Just enjoy the companionship that comes during this time of year. These are the memories that you will treasure in the future. Do your best to focus on these relationships because they are the true gifts of the holidays.


Cynthia Cunningham teaches mental health education classes and advocates for better care. She has been married over 30 years to her high school sweetheart and is the proud mother of an amazing daughter. 

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.org for more information.

 

Communities of Waco: Waco Striders

By Erik Romanov

So, you find yourself sitting on the couch watching TV and while channel surfing, and you come across the Summer Olympics: All of those world class athletes performing super human physical feats of speed, endurance, and strength.  Hey, who doesn’t love watching the Olympics!  Definitely one of my favorites!  Suddenly your adrenaline swells, and an instant burst of motivation hits you!  And then…just as fast as it comes, there it goes!  Well, maybe not totally gone.  Whether motivated by the Olympic spirit or simply a decision to get back into shape, you make the decision to get up off the couch and commit to get regular exercise. Where do you start?  How do you start?  Once you start, how do you keep up the motivation?  Ta da!  Enter the Waco Striders Running Club!

The Waco Striders Running Club was started back in 1979 by a simple group of locals with the same goals in mind: Get some exercise through the sport of running but, most importantly, have fun doing it.  Most people in town now usually just use the moniker “The Striders.”  That just sort of happened, kind of like how Federal Express became Fedex.  “Striders” works great, unless, of course, you are trying to route someone to the website!

The Striders Vision and Mission statement really sum up the essence of what and who we are:

“Vision and Mission – It is the goal of the Waco Strider’s to share our love of running by bringing people together from all walks of life.  We work hard to provide a safe, healthy, happy environment to run and socialize while supporting our community and local charitable organizations.  This is accomplished by hosting a variety of weekly training runs, t-shirt sales and innumerable organized events throughout the year.

The Waco Striders Running Club is a non-profit organization committed to the overall health and well-being of its members.  We hope to use our passion for running to build lifelong friendships, provide encouragement, improve ourselves and enhance our community”

Finding the Striders is generally not a difficult task.  Weekly group runs take place throughout Waco and Woodway.  If you have trouble finding them just look for the gigantic group of runners moving single file throughout Cameron Park, along Poage Park, or descending upon Whitehall Park.  Wherever you find us, we always greet passing motorists and other runners with a kind smile or wave.  That’s just how we are!

Oh, but once you find the Strider’s, look out!  You now have friends for life!  How so, you ask?  Well, who looks out for your health and well-being?  Friends do!  Who holds you accountable?  Friends do!  Who keeps you motivated when the last thing you want to do is go exercise?  Friends do!  And who is willing to give you the shirt off their backs?  Friends!  Friends! Friends!  We are the Waco Striders!

Probably the most impactful role we play in our local community is that of “giver.”  We give scholarships to children of our members to help with college or technical training schools.  We give our time and services to an array of local events to maximize the return to these other great non-profit organizations.  Most importantly, we give encouragement to all who cross our paths in the pursuit of making better life choices, physical or otherwise.

This is who my Waco Striders are, and I hope others will be encouraged and not intimidated to become part of the greatest community group in all of Waco!


Erik Romanov is a 53-year old retired Air Force veteran. He is passionate about triathlons and people. He has been married 30 years with two adult daughters who both did the Ironman Waco race with him.

Whether it’s playing trumpet in the “Friday Band” at MCC,  or riding with the Waco Knight Riders, or an afternoon playing with the Waco Disc Golf Association, one of the wonderful things about Waco is that there are lots of ways to find community here.  Where do you find community in Waco?  Would you be interested in writing about it? If so, let us know.  Email AshleyT@actlocallywaco.org. If you have an idea for a post.  You could be seeing your own picture on this page!