Body shop rookie of the year

blue collar entrepreneur jeremiah

Jeremiah Graham says he's a "young man in an old man's industry."

Last year, Graham, 33, was declared "Rookie of the Year" by auto body repair franchise CARSTAR. He opened his own location in Oklahoma City just two years ago.

His success isn't beginner's luck. He chalks it up to 15 years working his way up from the bottom.

"I was waiting tables at two restaurants in Oklahoma City and I didn't have a clue about my future," he said. But at 18, he landed an entry level job at a local auto body shop. At 25, he became general manager.

He bought the business from the owner in 2013 and converted it into Oklahoma's first CARSTAR location (there are 410 locations in the U.S. and Canada).

"My blue collar roots have taught me to work hard and be persistent," he said. It's also taught him to be a savvy businessman, earning him another accolade in 2014: CARSTAR marketer of the year.

First published February 10, 2015: 9:30 AM ET

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