While Camden, New Jersey has been hard hit by unemployment, one of its business owners — Fausto Batista — isn’t about to lay off any employees.
The 50-year-old Batista co-owns B&H International Associated, an auto repair shop that employs seven full-time workers and a fluctuating number of part timers. “I tell them we are a family here, we spend more time together than we do with our wives and kids,” says Batista in this Philadelphia Inquirer article.
Batista is a long way from his Dominican Republic homeland, which he left in the 1980s to find a better life. He and his business partner, Faustino Henriquez, took over B&H International in 2000. Soon after, word began spreading about the shop’s attention to detail. The repair business now handles 300 cars a year, a number that’s more than doubled since its start.
Just as Batista’s business has flourished from word-of-mouth, so has his reputation for hiring unemployed youths and teaching them auto repair skills. That’s not easy to do in a city with an 18 percent unemployment rate — the highest of any large municipality in New Jersey.
“People say Camden is the worst city, but not for me,” he tells the Inquirer. His employees, despite language barriers and varied ethnic backgrounds, all get along. “It’s a beautiful thing,” he says, “and it’s what I enjoy most.”