Belen couple open truck and auto repair shop in their hometown
It took Pete Garcia, who has been in the automotive industry since 1986, two weeks to decide it was time to open his own automotive shop, Pete’s Professional Truck and Auto Repair, in Belen.
“It was time, I needed a change,” Garcia said.
He got into the industry working on cars in the backyard with friends, many of whom have become mechanics as well. From there, it evolved into a career, which has now taken Garcia into business for himself.
Before opening his own shop, Garcia worked at Brad Francis for 13 years.
“I was born and raised in Belen,” said Garcia, who is ASE Master Certified and a Ford Senior Master. “Out of high school, I was working on vehicles. I worked for Ford for 21 years and I felt like I had already peaked there, and that’s when we (he and his wife) decided to go on our own. It was a scary decision.”
Garcia’s wife, Letisha, who manages the office, says it was a “huge change.”
“It kind of just feels like we are where we’re supposed to be,” she said.
Letisha and Pete, who are the proud parents of two boys and a girl, chime in unison that the “people of Belen have been so supportive.” They say the new business is going so smoothly that they wonder why they didn’t do it before.
Pete’s Professional is a full service shop specializing in diesels, but they also work on import and domestic vehicles. They’ve even worked on the city’s tractors, they say.
“We work on everything,” says Letisha.
“We try to take care of our customers to the full extent that we can,” says Pete, whether that means picking up and dropping off their customers.
“We even had a customer, she fell down and broke her arm and couldn’t pick up her car and we went and took it to her house,” remembered Letisha. “She called yesterday, oh, so grateful.”
They also make a point to call back all their customers two or three days after they’ve been to the shop to make sure everything is running the way it should since leaving the shop.
“Word of mouth in this area is a big thing,” says Pete. “And we want to know how their experience is. We want to make them feel like we’re here for them.”
If any problems arise after a customer has been to the shop, Letisha says they want to be the first to know so they can make it right for them and “make them happy.”
“We want people to think of us as someone they can come to and trust,” says Pete.
The shop houses two full-time automotive technicians and one part-time tech, besides Pete, in their five-bay shop on 1101 Don Felipe Road in Belen, where they are able to work on as many as 10 cars at a time.
Ideally, says Pete, they would like to get two more techs so he can spend more time in the front, dealing with customers directly.
“The biggest thing is just having good communication with the customers,” said Letisha, who says they make sure to keep their customers informed of what is happening with their vehicle since sometimes a job will take longer if they are waiting on parts or other situations out of their control.
While opening a business of their own has been a learning experience for the couple, their goal has always remained true to their belief in integrity, honesty and communication.
Pete says his favorite part of his profession is the continued learning. He says he especially enjoys working on vehicles that have a problem no one else has been able to figure out and being able to fix it.
“It’s just rewarding to be able to repair a vehicle and make people happy,” he said.
Letisha also admires the relationships that are formed through the shop, recalling one man who now calls her just to let her know when he’s going to visit the dentist.
“It’s not always about the money,” they agree, and even though they have a business to run, sometimes being able to help someone is what’s important.
The couple are humble about their shop, and hesitant to boast that it’s the best, since they are more interested in working with others in their industry instead of against them.
“There’s enough work in the county for everyone,” says Pete.
Pete’s Professional Truck and Auto Repair is open 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information, call 864-0500.
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