Small Biz

Brian Moak brings HEART to auto care

By  | 

By Jessie Wagoner

“Lead from the heart” is more than a motto for Brian Moak, owner of HEART Certified Auto Care, it is a part of the company mission. By allowing his heart and spirit of leadership to guide him, he is achieving his personal and professional goals – building a successful auto repair franchise.

Moak spent much of his youth hanging around his father’s auto repair shop in the Chicago suburbs. He enjoyed meeting new people, learning about business and marketing and spending time with his dad. Being at the shop didn’t feel like work, it was rewarding and exciting.

“I grew up in the shop,” Moak says. “Every Saturday I would come to work with him, on days off from school I was at work with him. He was someone I idolized and I also loved being in the shop. It was an environment that was very diverse and different from the area I grew up in, so it was really cool for me as a kid to be there.”

After college, Moak knew he wanted to carry on the family business. His vision for the company included expanding and franchising so more people could experience his people-oriented brand of automotive service: “Helping Everyone Achieve Reliable Transportation” or HEART.

Moak transformed the customer experience at his shop by creating comfortable waiting areas with free coffee and snacks, offering a free local shuttle and practicing transparency in service and pricing.

“We work from three main pillars of customer care,” Moak says. “Do the right thing, do the best you can, show other people you care. Our clients count on us to always provide outstanding service and auto repair, keeping their vehicles safe and reliable on the road. We treat them with the same level of service and care we would expect our Moms and Dad to receive.”

The extra attention to customer satisfaction is working: HEART Certified Auto Care was Voted Best Tire Store on the North Shore, customer reviews are glowing and the company now has three locations outside of Chicago with additional franchise opportunities in development.

Embracing workplace diversity

Brian Moak: HEART Auto CareBeing an out gay man in the auto repair industry has its challenges. Taking over a family owned business has unique challenges as well. Rather than cave to those pressures, Moak has relied on his leadership skills, focusing on the teaching moments as they are presented.

“There have been difficult conversations and difficult situations to navigate,” says Moak. “I always looked at those as opportunities to help someone see things differently. I think because of that, I’ve had situations that are challenging, but ultimately helping people see differently is how I fill the shoes of my 5’9” giant of a father.”

Before responding to situations Moak asks himself, “What grows respect?” He allows the answer to guide his decision making.

“You have to be better, you have to be smarter, you have to be more mature, you have to be agile and ready at all times to get ahead,” Moak says. “That’s what you have to do when you live in the margins.”

Having lived in the closet for 21 years, Moak knows all too well the stress of hiding. He is committed to living authentically and knows people perform best when they can bring their whole selves to work. With that in mind, he places an emphasis on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, inspiring his employees to be authentic.

“People perform best when they can be who they are,” Moak says. “So we adopted the philosophy that as long as you don’t impose who you are on someone else, be who you are. We have to respect everyone’s beliefs. We don’t have to agree, we just have to treat one another with respect.”

The authentic workplace environment and employee support is a resounding success. HEART Certified Auto Center has an average employee tenure of 13 years, a retention rate unheard of in the auto repair industry.

Moak has clearly created a business model that works for his customers and his employees, a model he is building on as he expands HEART Certified Auto Care. In the next five years, he plans to franchise to 30-plus locations.

“In five years I would like my three locations to be achieving an average of five to ten percent year over year growth, I’d like to continue developing our employees and giving them the resources they need and contributing to the community in fantastic ways,” Moak says. “The franchise, I would say in five years would have 30 locations open or in the pipeline.”

To learn more about Brian Moak and HEART Certified Auto Center, visit

Business Equality Pride (BEQPride) is the first publication from the BEQ family of national print and digital magazines exclusively addressing the needs of LGBTQ small-to-medium sized businesses, entrepreneurs and professionals.