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Nowadays, it seems like everyone wants to start their own business. While this can be an incredibly rewarding path, any business owner will tell you that it doesn’t come easy. Successfully starting and running your own business takes hard work, dedication and persistence.
UTI graduate Richard Perez knows what it’s like to start a business firsthand. After graduating from UTI and working for various different shops in the industry, he decided to open a shop of his own: Perlu Advanced Auto Repair.
Keep reading to learn all about Richard’s story, including his journey at UTI, the path to starting his own business, his tips for running a successful auto repair shop and more.
Richard was born and raised in Stockton, California. Growing up, his dad and uncle would always tinker with cars, which is what initially sparked his interest in the industry. This passion developed more in high school, where he started to explore what a career working on cars could look like.
One day while he was in high school, Richard and two friends were scheduled to visit another trade school. However, one of his counselors encouraged them to stay, because UTI was coming to visit their school. That was the day Richard decided UTI was the right fit for him! After graduating, he packed his bags and headed to UTI in Arizona to complete the Automotive and Diesel programs.
Richard has always been mechanically inclined and skilled in electronics. By the time he started at UTI, he already had experience with technology and knew this was the career path he wanted to pursue. This allowed him to really dive into his education and learn everything he needed to know about the industry.
When reflecting on his UTI experience, Richard shares, “It was both fun and tough, but I would do it all over again.” Leaving home for the first time and traveling to another state alone was scary at first, but worth it in the end. He went straight through the program without taking any breaks, and would work nights after finishing his days at school.
Richard enjoyed being part of a community and getting to know his classmates, many of whom shared his same passion. They all lived in the same apartment complex near campus, which made him feel right at home. “I wouldn’t change it for the world. It helped make me who I am today,” Richard says.
After graduating from UTI in 1994, Richard landed a job working for a small shop. At first, he wasn't making a lot of money. However, one of his UTI instructors encouraged him and reminded him of the importance of gaining experience. He told Richard, “You have your whole life to make money, but now is the time to learn,” which has resonated with Richard to this day.
Richard learned a lot working at this shop and after three and a half years, went to work for another company, where he took on a higher position and tripled his earnings. He worked at this shop for three years and eventually went on to work for another shop for 16 years, where he advanced to head mechanic and learned the ins and outs of how the business ran. He quickly became known as the guy who could do it all.
Once he left this job, Richard decided that his next career move was to open a shop of his own. A building located just one block from his house opened, and he knew it was the right location. Investors bought the building while he secured the loans and everything he needed to get the right equipment. He transformed the vacant building into a beautiful shop and showroom, and Perlu Advanced Auto Repair was born!
Perlu Advanced Auto Repair has been in business for three years now, and according to Richard, they continue to grow every year. The service center offers auto repair, maintenance, inspections, engine diagnostics and more. They are star certified for smog and offer a wide range of maintenance services, like oil changes and diagnostics for check-engine lights and drivability.
As a family owned and operated company, Perlu Advanced Auto Repair truly cares about their customers and their vehicle transportation. Regardless of a customer’s automotive knowledge, the team takes the time to ensure customers have a full understanding of what’s going on with their car.
One of the things that makes Perlu Advanced Auto Repair unique is their commitment to supporting the local community. One of the ways they do this is by offering labor discounts for veterans, first responders and teachers. They also take part in various activities to serve veterans, end childhood hunger in the community, and more.
Richard and his team have accomplished incredible things in the short three years they’ve been in business. In fact, Perlu Advanced Auto Repair received the Service Center of the Year award from Certified Auto Repair in 2018! This award resulted in news coverage and generated buzz in the local community about all of the incredible things the shop was doing.
So what does it take to run an award-winning service center? Here are five things Richard attributes his success to:
It’s no secret that the automotive industry continues to change due to technological advancements. Whether you’re a business owner or employee, it’s important to stay current and evolve right alongside the industry to stay relevant.
One of the biggest shifts in technology that has impacted Richard’s business is hybrid cars. He shares that this is becoming more of a common occurrence in his shop, so he has had to learn everything he can about these cars in order to meet the needs of his customers.
According to Richard, having the right tools and equipment is essential to staying current with technology. He shares that whenever there are new tools or equipment his techs need in the shop, he orders it. “It’s part of staying up to date with what’s coming up,” he says.
As an employer, there are several traits Richard looks for when hiring technicians. He shares that in addition to having the right experience, attitude and work ethic go a long way. “It’s about being smart and hard working. Many people think they’re one or the other,” he says.
According to Richard, a successful technician isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty. This is something he has embodied in his own career. “When people come to the shop, they think my service manager up front is the boss, because I’m in the back sweating,” he shares. “When they see that, they know what kind of business this is, and they appreciate it.”
Richard’s advice for those looking to pursue a career in the industry or even start a business of their own is to take the time to learn everything you can. “If you want to open your own business, know that you’re not going to do it overnight,” he says. “Learn the ins and outs of the business. It’s not just turning wrenches—there are so many things behind the scenes that you have to know,” he continues.
All in all, Richard encourages aspiring technicians and business owners to not be afraid to start somewhere. Get your foot in the door, work hard, and you never know where you might end up!
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1) UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.
2) For important information about the educational debt, earnings and completion rates of students who attended this program, and to review the applicable Gainful Employment disclosure, visit www.uti.edu/disclosures.
6) UTI graduates' achievements may vary. Individual circumstances and wages depend on personal credentials and economic factors. Work experience, industry certifications, the location of the employer and their compensation programs affect wages. UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.
7) Some programs may require longer than one year to complete.
10) Financial aid and scholarships are available to those who qualify. Awards vary due to specific conditions, criteria and state.
12) Based on data compiled from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections (2016-2026), www.bls.gov, viewed October 24, 2017. The projected number of annual job openings, by job classification is: Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, 75,900; Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists, 28,300; Automotive Body and Related Repairers, 17,200. Job openings include openings due to growth and net replacements.
15) Manufacturer-paid advanced training programs are conducted by UTI’s Custom Training Group on behalf of manufacturers who determine acceptance criteria and conditions. These programs are not part of UTI’s accreditation.
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