|High School Buddies Open Up Auto Shop||| Print ||
|Wednesday, 23 November 2011 12:40|
PHOTO BY LINDA SANDSMARK
High school buddies Junior (Rick) Garcia and Nic Burton have opened their new full-service garage on Alvarado Street.
By Linda Sandsmark
San Leandro Times
When high school buddies Junior (Rick) Garcia and Nic Burton opened their full service garage on Alvarado Street three months ago, they expected to have a couple weeks of downtime to finish getting things in order before customers arrived.
They were wrong.
“People started coming in right away,” marvels Nic. “It was unbelievable.”
Junior and Nic had worked for a local car dealership together for 12 years, and were well-known locally for their workmanship and honesty. Everybody they knew asked them for advice and help with cars, so they figured they might as well open their own place.
“We’re trying to get back to the old style service center concept, even though we’re young guys,” says Junior. “At a dealership it’s all about the numbers. Now that we’re out on our own we can give people more personal service than you get at a dealership.”
After a long search, Junior and Nic found a vacant space in May at a former smog shop next to Panico’s Auto Service. Evenings and weekends were spent remodeling the shop, after putting in full-time hours at the dealership. They laid the floor tile in their lobby themselves, and upgraded the waiting room with a flat screen TV, comfortable couches, toys for kids, and free wi-fi.
The office décor includes a vintage Chevron gas pump which belonged to Junior’s dad. A friend designed their striking “Junior & Nic’s Full Service Garage” logo in exchange for repair services.
Junior and Nic are specialists in high-performance vehicles and race car upgrades. One of their customized Volvos, which can be seen at the shop, has run in ten events so far. A favorite competition, called “24 Hours of Lemons,” is an endurance race where unintentional contact with 160 other vehicles on the track is the norm.
“It’s like rush hour traffic at 80 miles per hour,” says Nic.
The shop is so busy with customers, both racing and non-racing, that Junior and Nic are already installing their third lift. Although they perform a wide range of auto services (full tune-ups, oil changes, tires, buying and installing performance car parts, etc.), they maintain that their focus is helping make the cost of car maintenance affordable.
“People get astronomical estimates elsewhere, sometimes for as much as the car is worth. That’s ridiculous. We can help customers plan out their repairs over a year or two so they’re not hit with the expense all at once. If you take care of people, the numbers fall into line,” says Nic.
Junior and Nic’s business philosophy is based on years of friendship.
“I was born here in San Leandro,” says Junior. “Then went to high school with Nic in Vacaville during the ‘90s. Afterward I moved back here to San Leandro with my wife, where we live here with our four children.”
Nic, whose father had moved all over the world with the Air Force, decided to follow his best friend and settle in the Bay Area.
“We’ve been friends since high school and we’ve worked together for years. Now we both really want to focus on what customers want and need, which is lower costs,” Nic says.