Super Rupair has been taking care of Boulder County Subies—and their owners—for more than 40 years.

By Leland Rucker

 

If you live locally and own a Subaru, you’ve no doubt seen or stopped into Super Rupair. The shop has been fixing Subies in Boulder since 1981.

Super Rupair keeps Subaru lovers coming back because it works with customers.

“You have heard the saying regarding auto repair: ‘Fast, cheap or good—pick two.’ I disagree with that philosophy,” says owner Gary Chambers. “Since we buy our parts in bulk and have a fully stocked new and used parts department, the technicians rarely have to wait for parts to complete a job.”

Chambers has spent most of his life tearing apart engines and putting them back together. His mechanical knowledge started with airplanes. In 1979, his friend Joel Cox, who did custom auto body and paint work on old hot rods, asked him to help out at a Denver repair shop called Super Ru and eventually offered him partial ownership in exchange for all the time he had put in helping him out. Noting the cult following Subarus seemed to have in Boulder, Chambers moved the company to an industrial area just west of Broadway on Yarmouth in 1981. He soon bought land on the east side of Broadway and Yarmouth, where Super Rupair is still located.

In the late 1980s, Subaru contacted Chambers to complain that the name Super Ru was too close to the corporate moniker, so he changed it to Super Rupair. “Subaru said it would adopt a wait-and-see attitude about approval or disapproval” for the new name and demanded a six-year window to make a decision, Chambers explains. By the time the powers-that-be decided it was still too close, seven years had passed. Chambers kept the name.

In the late 1990s, Chambers hired an auditor to investigate a bookkeeper who was embezzling from the company—an unfortunate situation that had a big silver lining: the auditor became his wife. Debbie Chambers ran the Super Rupair office for many years and still does some bookkeeping for the company.

Gary Chambers has owned Super Rupair since the early 1980s. His wife, Debbie, joined the business in
the 1990s.

A key piece of Super Rupair’s success lies in its techs, who tend to stay with the company a long time. One of Chambers’ techs has been with him since 1981 (though he took about 10 years off to run his own shop), and a few started out as cleaners 20 years ago and worked their way up.

Super Rupair has 35 employees, and Chambers has to deal all too often with a problem familiar to Boulder business owners: Many employees are priced out of the housing market and have to commute. That’s caused him to lose some good people.

“If you like a 45-minute commute, there is something wrong with you,” Chambers says, laughing. “Employees are driving past many shops on their commute in, and I don’t blame them for wanting to turn a 45-minute commute into a five-minute bike ride.”

In addition to fixing cars, Super Rupair also sells used ones from a rented lot on Broadway and Violet. About 80 percent of the 20 to 24 cars Super Rupair Auto Sales sells every month are Subarus, with Toyotas and Hondas making up the rest. “We don’t really mess with German and American cars,” Chambers says.

In 2012, Chambers bought a junkyard at 61st Street and Valmont and hopes to move Super Rupair Auto Sales—which has been at several different locations in Boulder and operated for several years as Blue Spruce Auto Sales—to a permanent home there. The 2013 flood, which also wiped out the Chambers’ home on Lee Hill Road, complicated those plans, but he holds out hope.

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