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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 & 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.

"I was born and raised in Belen,” said Garcia, who is a ASE Master Certified and 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 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, chimed in unison that the "people of the land 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 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 are 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, and their five-bay shop on 1101 Don Felipe Road in Belen, where they're able to work on as many as 10 cars at a time.

Ideally, says Pete, they would like to get to more techs so he can spend more time in the front, dealing with customers directly.

"The biggest thing is just having good communication with customers," said Letisha, who says they make sure to keep their customers informed of what is happening with the vehicle since sometimes a job will take longer if they're 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 is always remain 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 is been able to figure out and been 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 to 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 been able to help someone is what's important.

The couple are humble about the shop, and hesitant to boast that it's the best, since they're more interested in working with others in their industry instead of against them.

“There is enough work in the country 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.

By Ungelbah Daniel-Davila
News-Bulletin Staff Writer
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