The Class of 2019

James Stephenson

President, Precision Auto Repair & Sales Inc.; Age 36
Education: Holyoke Community College

James Stephenson

James Stephenson

What did you want to be when you grew up? My goal when I was younger was to pursue a career in law enforcement. My major in college was actually criminal justice, and I paid my way through with money earned working as an automotive technician. I ultimately found that I was more passionate about working in a trade and ended up leaving college to focus on becoming a master automotive technician, which led to opening my first shop a few years later.

What three words best describe you? Loyal, determined, sincere.

How do you define success? Success for me is finding the right family/work balance. I feel I’m successful because I’ve created an efficient company that allows me to spend a lot of time helping raise our children and watching them grow. This success also allows my staff to do the same. In my company, family always comes first. In the almost 14 years since I started this company, not one member of my staff has ever missed a dance recital, tee-ball game, parent-teacher conference, family dinner, or any other important family event because they ‘have to work.’ To me, that’s success.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? Don’t face people when riding in an elevator. Also, see the positive side of every situation. When I set personal and professional goals, sometimes the plan has to change. Without a positive outlook, it would be nearly impossible to stay motivated when encountering a hurdle.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? Dale Carnegie. I’ve read his books many times and modeled our customer-service procedures on his very simple but effective way of thinking and teaching. While his books are thorough, I feel like there could be a lot more to learn during a one-on-one conversation.

What actor would play you in a movie about your life? Bradley Cooper. Some people think we look similar. I would agree with them if Bradley were about 50 pounds heavier with thinning hair.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? “Open bar!” While my intent is to be around for many more years, when I do pass, it’s widely known in my family that I want a huge party instead of a sad wake. I want my life to be celebrated instead of having my death mourned.

Photography by Leah Martin Photography