Maurcie El-Haj says he thought he knew what he was doing in 2004 when he expanded his Bavarian Automotive at 1630 E. Second St., doubling its size to about 6,000 square feet.
He figured he might not ever have to expand again.
“It wasn’t enough,” he says he discovered.
That’s in part because the Mini Cooper came along.
El-Haj specializes in BMW repairs and added Mini Cooper, which is made by BMW, servicing, too. He’s going to keep the BMW work where it is and establish a Mini Cooper service department at 1630 E. First St., where an Unruh Automotive Services has been.
On Thursday, El-Haj closed on his purchase of Unruh Automotive. He bought the business – but not Wichita’s other three Unruh Automotive shops – including its equipment and 5,000-square-foot building.
“This will help me out,” El-Haj says.
“We’re so busy,” he says. “We’re, like, three weeks behind. Customers kind of start getting itchy.”
Chawki Corban, who still owns the Unruh Automotive at 13th and Maize Road, says he and El-Haj do work together. He says he knew El-Haj was looking for a second shop close to his first.
“Maurice is a friend of mine.”
Corban says his own business has been good, but, “It’s not a fantastic business.”
He’s now considering opening on the east side.
El-Haj’s new shop will have a manager, his son, Maher, four technicians and a secretary. Two of those technicians have been working for Unruh Automotive.
“We’ll take care of their customers 100 percent,” El-Haj says.
Part of his new shop will be to take care of those customers. Part of it will be for Mini Coopers and imports.
El-Haj has had Bavarian Automotive for two decades and has worked on BMWs since 1983.
“I just want to try to conquer the business of BMW and Mini Cooper in Wichita,” he says.
El-Haj says he’s planning to put a Bavarian sign at the new property, though he says he doesn’t mind the Unruh sign there when he starts working out of the new space on Monday.
“They have a really good name.”
It’s not lost on El-Haj that he now owns First and Second street properties each at a 1630 address.
“I’m going to see where 1630 E. Douglas is,” he jokes. “Maybe I’ll get that, too.”