This story was originally published June 7, 2008.
Joaquin Cordero was working at Micron, but he really yearned for a life as the owner of a real mom-and-pop business.
In the past few months, that dream has come true for Cordero. He’s the owner of the new 27th Street Automotive, at State and 27th streets in Boise. As for the mom-and-pop part, Cordero’s 61-year-old parents have traveled from Mexico to help him get his new venture rolling.
Cordero’s father used to teach auto mechanics at the polytechnic school in Cordero’s native Merida. His mother is helping out at home and in the office.
“I don’t know what I would have done without their help,” he said. “At the beginning it was too much work.”
Cordero, 36, opened his shop two months ago after working eight years as a technician for Micron. Although there are hundreds of auto repair businesses in the Treasure Valley, Cordero thinks he has found a niche.
He speaks Spanish and has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. A sign in front of his shop promises he has the lowest prices around. And he loves to solve the puzzles presented by some of the vehicles that roll in.
“What I like to do is fix stuff that other people can’t fix,” said Cordero. “That’s a personal challenge to me.”
Cordero grew up fixing cars in his father’s mechanic shop in Merida, and he worked in Volkswagen and Chevrolet dealerships in Merida and Cancun.
He moved to Boise in 1997. While working as an automotive technician, he took English classes at Boise State University. Eventually he worked his way up to the level of senior technician at Micron, where he worked with engineers to repair equipment and design machines in the assembly area.
Then Cordero started taking classes at Boise State toward a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. Meanwhile, he decided to pursue his dream of owning his own business and started his shop. He wanted a job that would give him hands-on experience.
“I like working with the stuff more than a desk job,” he said. “That’s just my personal preference.”
Cordero does mechanical work like repairing engines and brakes and also does electrical diagnostics.
Cordero has three children — a 9-year-old and 5-year-old twins, all three born on June 27. One of the 5-year-olds loves to spend time in the shop.
On a recent morning, Cordero’s father worked underneath a pickup truck in the garage. With the garage and office immaculately clean — the way Cordero wants it to stay — his mother pruned some bushes outside.
“She always finds something to do,” he said.
One day, Cordero would like to see the business — the former Joey’s Auto Body — expand, but he doesn’t want to open other businesses.
“I don’t want to be a big corporation. I just want to be able to know my customers,” he said. “Fixing cars, I like to do this.”
Starting a business?
Joaquin Cordero said starting a business doesn’t have to be complicated.
”Actually it’s simple,” Cordero said. “You just have to know what to do. I found the information in a book in the library, and pretty much they tell you where to go.”
Here’s Cordero’s advice for someone considering starting a business:
Don’t be afraid to ask for advice: “Just because you don’t know something doesn’t mean you’re stupid. Usually people like to help.”
He asked some guys who run a shop for advice on how to find customers. He asked people who worked in the bank for their opinions about financing options. “Everything they said, I somehow knew, but it was a good thing they reminded me,” Cordero said.
Be flexible: “I learned how to have more than one backup plan,” said Cordero, who started out looking for a shop to rent and ended up buying a place.
Pay attention to your competitors: “I can do what they do ... and I can offer services that they don’t offer.”