Army experience, leadership help boost Littleton's Bates to success after joining ranks of NAPA AutoCare Centers

Brian Bates gave four years of his life to the U.S. Army in the early 1990s and, in return, the Army provided Bates with a life's worth of lessons.

And Bates, 39, has delivered many of those principles to his two Eagle Automotive stores in Littleton, Colo., that are NAPA AutoCare Centers.

"I gave four years to the Army and left with a full understanding of honor, integrity, hard work, teamwork and leadership," said Bates, whose repair centers are located at 7921 S. Platte Canyon Rd. and 10143 W. Chatfield Ave. in Littleton, Colo.

The success of Bates' business and his interest in NHRA drag racing is what led Will Rogers, the NAPA District Manager for the Denver area, to select him to be Sunday's NAPA AUTO PARTS Honorary Crew Member for the NAPA AUTO PARTS Funny Car driven by Ron Capps at the Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in the Rocky Mountains outside of Denver.

Bates spent the day with the NAPA team in Don Schumacher Racing's NAPA Club Nitro hospitality pavilion where he enjoyed shade and a meal catered by DSR's traveling chef. Bates wore his official crew shirt while he rode with the crew to pick up Capps after a run down the dragstrip.

"I enjoy coming out to Bandimere to watch and get up close in the pits to watch the crews work on the car," said Bates, a master technician.

He worked as a mechanic while attending Metro State College in Denver where he earned his business degree. Ten years after leaving the Army in 1994, Bates and his wife, Rhondi, purchased Eagle Automotive and one of their first moves was to become a NAPA AutoCare Center.

"They work with us more like a partner that a parts supplier," Bates said. "They are very involved in helping us grow our business and expand to two locations."

Rogers said the Bates family exemplifies the character NAPA wants to be associated with and the quality of service is beyond its standards.

The company website ( states the staff "strives to give the best experience possible to each customer and vehicle. We answer the phone, return phone calls, keep our promises on estimated cost and completion time."

"I can't afford not to hire the best," Bates said. "I look at their hearts before I look at their skills."

The family atmosphere is evident at Eagle Automotive where Rhondi handles bookkeeping and 18-year-old son Adam is an apprentice mechanic. Adam, who is a high-performance car enthusiast, was a defensive lineman on last year's Colorado state championship football team at Columbine High School, where 15-year-old sister Kiersten is a varsity cheerleader.