On June 4, 2019, we conducted a day-long interview Sprint for our Bringing Business Home Campaign, which showcases community members whose lives have been positively influenced by their employment at a local business. Over the course of 10 hours, we interviewed eight different people from six different businesses in Fort Collins. These employees work for both small and large businesses — all of which contribute to the strength of our economic vitality.

Growing up inside the walls of Houska Automotive, LJ Houska always wanted to one day work there. Now, he’s helping run the local business.

Fortunately for him, he knew a guy.

LJ is the third generation of the Houska family to work at and manage the Fort Collins car repair shop, which first opened its doors in 1952 by LJ’s grandfather. While his current role is Vice President of the company, he started working at his family’s business when he was a pre-teen, washing windows and sweeping floors.

“It’s fun to be a part of a business that’s never stable and is always growing,” LJ said. “There’s something amazing about seeing something become better than it was and giving people in the community the opportunity to grow.”

LJ understands the importance of local, family-run businesses and how they help their community thrive. For more than two decades, Houska Automotive hosted the annual Houska Houska 5K run in an effort to raise money for the Poudre Valley Hospital Cancer Center and Bone Marrow Donor Program. Over 22 years of hosting the race, the business raised $250,000 for the cause.

The Houska Houska’s final race was in 2014, but that doesn’t mean LJ’s passion for giving back came to a halt. He helps organize Garage Band events for Houska Automotive, which benefit various charities, local organizations and individuals in need. He’s also involved in Partners Mentoring Youth, a program in which he gets paired with a child or teenager in Weld or Larimer County who is facing personal challenges. LJ serves as a mentor, influencing his mentee’s life in a positive way.

“The Fort Collins community is what has kept us going for so long,” LJ explained. “It’s important to give back to the community that gives to you.”

Following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, Houska Automotive helped transform LJ into who he is today. But there’s more to him than just his family’s business.

LJ was born and raised in Fort Collins, and he graduated from Poudre High School then went on to become a proud CSU Ram. An avid outdoorsman, LJ loves mountain biking and whitewater rafting in the summertime, and skiing in the winter. He enjoys spending time with his wife, Jen, and 6-year-old daughter Annie.

Fort Collins has always been home to LJ, and it always will be.

“Anytime I travel away and come back here, I always think, ‘Boy, I’m glad to be back,” he explained. “It’s what I know. It’s why I never left.”