SoCo Customs isn’t your average shop. This business exists out of a desire to do things differently and to serve the Colorado Springs community the way I feel like it should be served. To take care of people in a personal and integral way that people can trust and rely on.
We opened this shop in February of 2018, but that was not even close to the beginning of my time in the auto repair business. I’ve been around cars and trucks my whole life starting at 15 years old when my uncle told me I could have a car if I could put it all back together. That began my auto repair career, and I’ve been in all facets of the business from that point forward.
I started out my actual career when I was 17 years old working on heavy equipment and tractors and as a mobile mechanic. I also spent a few years in auto sales and service as well. After several years repairing vehicles and heavy equipment, I was given the opportunity to teach mechanics at the college level here at Pikes Peak Community College. Once I had done that for about 4 years, I found out about an opportunity to start working for Big O Tires as a sales associate with the understanding from a friend of mine that worked there that I could most likely become the shop manager within a few months.
So I got the job in 2014, finished up my teaching job at PPCC and didn’t renew my teaching contract as I moved on to Big O. Within the first month and a half of being there, I was promoted to the shop manager.
Then began my journey into managing and eventually owning a shop of my own. Managing Big O was a tremendous learning experience for me. I learned how the sales process worked, and some of the frustrations that environment caused for the customers consistently. I saw first hand how these large shop chains and franchises handled customers and the many flaws that weren’t good for the customers or the employees. At the same time, I learned how to run a shop the right way, even though I couldn’t do it there. I aspired to change that someday. The question was how?
In my four years of being at Big O, I was able to double the revenue of that shop by branching out into doing aftermarket modifications, and developing relationship with automotive dealers around Colorado Springs. But, the problem was that I was limited by the lack of support and control of the business by the ownership.
By 2018, I had built up that business as much as I could and had reached a ceiling. I had witnessed first hand how these businesses were run, and was tired of seeing how the ownership viewed and took care of customers. They didn’t value people and it showed in the level of service. I also didn’t like how little this company was willing to do to take care of our military and first responders in our community. We could do better, and I wanted to.
I was tired of seeing service men and women come back from deployment and getting raked over the coals by some of these chain stores. I wanted to do something about it.
I started thinking to myself that I could do this on my own and take better care of the customers, our military and give back to the people and community I grew up in.
I could put myself out there in the community that I grew up in and give people a true and honest automotive shop that anyone and everyone could come to and get the best experience and with the best service possible.
One of the major things I saw at Big O was the problems within the sales process. I got so tires of selling people at the counter next to 4 other sales associates.
If you’ve been there you know what I’ve talking about. You’re standing up there with 4 other sales associates talking to 4 other customers at the same time. And they’re all having the same awkward and uncomfortable conversation. Everyone is next to each other and you’re telling this person why their car is having problems, and they end up making a decision based on pride or out of embarrassment, and with a lot of embarrassment and frustration.
So that was another improvement I knew would make the customer experience better and that we still do to this day. I thought, “what would change if I had a closed office with an intimate setting where I could really connect with people and truly talk about their car and what’s caused the problems. If they had a place they could make a safe financial decision based on honesty and reality about what they need and want and where they weren’t pressured to make a $5,000 purchase if they can’t afford it.
We also wanted to provide aftermarket automotive services that weren’t bloated with fat and way too much profit like these big corporations and franchise shops do constantly.
These were the issues we saw that I knew I could fix, among countless others, by having my own shop, and that was the beginning of the SoCo Customs concept.