When Charlie Graham teamed up with Great Plains Auto Body, it brought two of Omaha’s most respected brands in auto repair together.
In 1942, Hinky Dinky built a grocery store at the corner of 42nd and Leavenworth streets in Omaha. Twenty-two years later, in 1969, Charlie Graham bought the building to use as a body shop for his Buick dealership.
Graham sold his dealership to Reagan Buick in 1977. He also sold the auto body shop to two of his employees, who continued to operate it under the Charlie Graham name.
Jim Champion joined the body shop as a collision repair technician in 1983. He worked at Charlie Graham while he took college business classes at night. He and a co-worker bought the business in 1987.
Over the years, Charlie Graham added general vehicle maintenance to its offered services. Though they service thousands of vehicles each year, its employees manage to know most customers by name.
Champion bought out his partner and ran the shop with his wife Nancy until late 2016. That was when Champion sold it to Great Plains Auto Body, another locally owned business.
If Champion sounds familiar, it’s probably because he’s known throughout Greater Omaha as the “Auto Guy.” He appears every other Sunday on WOWT-TV to give vehicle maintenance tips.
Champion is an active member of the surrounding community. He served on the Midtown Business Association for 20 years and the Destination Midtown Board for nearly 10.
Charlie Graham is a business known for its involvement with worthy causes. These include youth sports, school carnivals, Ronald McDonald House, InCommon, parish fundraisers and the Greater Omaha Chamber.
Last year also saw an agreement with UNMC to swap land to make way for an expanded campus. Charlie Graham Body & Service will relocate catty-corner across Leavenworth.