When Russia invaded Ukraine, Yevhen Korotych's whole town was bombed and his home destroyed. He barely escaped with his two children and his wife.
"I was a mechanical engineer in Ukraine when Russia invaded the first time. They took Crimea, and I lost my career as a mechanical engineer. I thought, what am I going to do?" said Korotych. "So I taught myself how to be a mechanic and became a very successful mechanic in Ukraine — until they bombed us again this year, and I lost my job."
But they did get out and made their way to the United States. Korotych, 34, goes by Eugene now. When U.S. immigration officials interviewed him and asked if he knew someone in the states, he told them his sister and brother-in-law live in Commerce City. Korotych and his family moved to Commerce City and started to look for work.
That's when they met Victor Robért and their lives changed
Victor Robért is French Creole, originally from Louisiana, and has owned the Christians Brother Automotive in Broomfield for three years. He purchased Christians Brothers Automotive in Commerce City as of August 1.
Like Korotych, Robért had taken a different path to retail car repairs.
Robért worked as a research scientist until he turned 52. He'd spent 20 years researching and developing new therapies for a kind of blood disease where the body produces too many red blood cells.
"So your blood becomes very thick, like syrup. It's very painful and can be fatal. I spent 20 years researching and developing therapy," Robért said.
He retired at 52 only to realize he'd made a mistake. His children were still in school and his wife and friends were still working. He began looking for new opportunities, settling on the Christian-based auto shop and purchasing his first franchise.
"I just fell in love with the company, their morality, honesty, and integrity, and they truly care about every owner, every employee, every customer. We are always a phone call away if something upset the customer and needs to ahold of the vice president or someone at corporate," Robért said.
Robért said the automotive industry has a reputation for taking advantage of people.
"Christian Brothers does not take advantage of people. We believe in taking care of our customers. It was founded in 1982 and now 2022 and there are only 258 franchises. They just are very particular where they're going to put them and who they sell them to," he said.
Robért began looking for help and found Korotych on an internet job site. Seeing Korotych was from Ukraine, Robért asked if he knew English, and he said no. The pair initially communicated through Google Translate, until they'd set up an interview.
"He came in for an interview with a translator, his brother-in-law. During the interview, I had a good conversation with him, and I liked him. He was excited about the company because he's a Christian, he loved the name. He did research and found that we are faith-based and is excited about working with us," Robért said.
Meanwhile, Robert and his service manager began vetting their prospective mechanic. Korotych's Commerce City sponsor had only good things to say, arguing that despite the language barrier, they would not regret hiring him. Robért decided to sleep on the decision.
"I never say the phrase God spoke to me, but I woke up. It felt like God had spoken to my heart. You've got to help this family- they've been through so much. Eugene went through two Russian invasions. And Ryan said we have to help this family," Robért said.
They brought Korotych and his translator back in and offered him the job.
"I just stood up, shook his hand, and I said when you can start? Eugene said, tomorrow," Robért said. "He had to buy a toolbox because he needed to buy some tools and didn't have any money and had to leave his tools behind in Ukraine. Eugene said I want to prove to you that I can do the job," Robért said.
The toolbox became another hurdle. Korotych bought some -- with the help of his sponsors -- and Robért his staff donated others.
"Eugene has a small toolbox. We called it a Barbie toolbox," Robért said. "He doesn't know I'm going to buy him a larger toolbox. He didn't start out making that much, so I called him, I'm giving you a raise, you deserve more than you're making."
Korotych is working full-time five days a week, two nights a week. He's taking English lessons and learning to speak English. Robért said his communication has improved within two months since they met him. He can also understand a lot more too.
"I'm excited to work with Christian Brothers," said Korotych
"I admire him for coming here and is doing a great job. It's just a blessing to have him here in the shop. He's a positive influence on everybody," Robért said.