Posts Tagged ‘downtown auto repair houston’

Channel 11-khou 11-Tv Interview Midtown Auto Service 2008-houston-tx

Friday, November 21st, 2008

Midtown Auto-Voted Houston’s Auto Repair of the Year 2007/Houston,Tx

Friday, July 18th, 2008

Midtown Auto Service & Repair — Voted Houston’s Auto Repair of the Year 2007

Midtown Auto-Voted Houston’s Auto Repair of the Year 2007/Houston,Tx

Midtown Auto Service-Featured Newspaper Article-Houston,Tx

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

HOUSTON, Texas — On a Monday before July 4th, Mon Yu is sitting at his desk behind the reception-area counter talking on the phone to a parts store. He is trying patiently to explain that he was incorrectly billed for a $52 fuel injector, but the clerk he’s talking to is not following the math. Mikey, owner of Midtown Auto Repair Shop near downtown Houston, cheerfully says he’ll call back later to clarify.

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The owner, Mikey, and ASE Certified technician discussing a fuel leak on a Volkswagon Jetta.

Standing up and hurrying from behind the counter, Mikey smiles big and apologizes for keeping his visitor waiting a couple of minutes. He seems unusually friendly — happy even — for a repair shop owner, but it soon becomes clear why. Mikey’s is profitable and debt free, despite Mikey continuous upgrades of computer capabilities and shop equipment and an expansion in 1999 that boosted the number of bays from one to seven, which expanded the business to about 4,900 square feet. Located on Almeda Road, approximately half-way between downtown and Houston’s sprawling Medical Center complex, Midtown auto service is in a high-traffic area and doesn’t have a competitor within miles.

Mikeys customers are happy about the shop, too. On the wall opposite the counter is a framed seal of approval from AAA. Mikey’s got a 98 percent customer-satisfaction score in April. On Citysearch.com, the Web-based business-search site where customers comment on their experiences with local businesses, Mikey’s get 18 “Highly Recommended” votes out of 19 reviews.

In June, one customer wrote: “I have been to Midtown’s with both of my cars and I have been very happy with each experience. Mikey, himself, listens to your problem and explains it well, even showing you the problem directly. He always seems happy to listen, while a lot of other mechanics act irritated that you’re wasting their time. Fair, thorough and professional. That’s all I could ask of a mechanic, and Midtown’s hits a home run every time.”

The customer review, however, raises a question: If Yu, is the owner, who is Mikey? Turns out, there is no “Mikey” associated with the business. Never has been. The shop was opened in 1987, by Mikeys father Man Yu, who emigrated with his family from South Korea in 1973, when Mon was three. His father worked for several years in the Meineke Car Care Center warehouse in Pasadena, south of Houston. Man Yu didn’t even own a car in the early years, and walked to work. Sam Meineke, the Houstonian who founded the chain, admired Man Yu’s work ethic and the two men became friends, as well.

“Sam gave him a break, and asked him if he wanted to buy a store.” Mikey says. Man Yu owned a Meineke shop in southwest Houston for seven years, and in 1987 he bought the current location, which had been another Meineke shop, to open his own repair garage. “He was thinking ‘Mikey’ sounds like Meineke,” Mikey explains, “and the people in the neighborhood were used to that.” So, father and son became known as Mikey, and Mon Yu’s work shirt has a “Mikey” patch on the right front. “Everyone who walks in assumes I’m Mikey,” Mikey said.  “I’ve got people coming in who were my dad’s customers and they call me junior Mikey.”

He bought the business from his father-for less than $100,000 and with monthly payments-when his father wanted to retire in 1999. He sold his cars and maxed out his credit cards for the down payment, he said. In addition to expanding the shop space, he bought new lifts, a new alignment machine and other equipment and computerized the operation. “Dad didn’t have a computer,” Mikey said. “He kept it in his head.” He says the business, which has three ASE-certified techs, has grown about 15 percent a year since 1999. Mikey’s is one of only about 200 shops in the Houston area that participate in the State of Texas emissions-control program with Advanced Engine Performance Specialist certification and the computer equipment required by the program.  

Both men were self-taught mechanics, but as a young man Mon Yu saw the shop more as a way to make walking- around money than as his future source of income. “I resisted it,” he says. “I was that teenager guy who thought, I’m not taking over this dirty shop.” Still, he soon realized that doing a quick brake job was a better use of his time than doing odd jobs on an hourly basis, so he picked up additional skills. “I learned from the ground up doing everything: service adviser, ordering parts, mechanical stuff,” Mikeys says. His on-the-job training met some resistance from mechanics who were not keen on teaching the boss’s son, because it cut into their commission work. “Mechanics don’t want to teach,” he says. “They’re selfish.”

He ended the commission system and put his employees on straight salaries after taking over the shop. “The downfall is sometimes they slow down on the job; when they were on a commission, they rushed,” he said. “Sometimes I’ll get on them about that.” His employees get a week of paid vacation annually, and have the option of participating in a 401k retirement plan. Mikey said he plans to add a health-insurance plan to the benefits.

Mikey, the youngest of the three sons, has a degree in criminal justice from the University of Houston. He planned to go into law enforcement, preventing crime during his day job and moon-lighting as a security officer at night in Houston’s clubs. But like a lot of working people, having a family meant a change in plans. “I was married and my wife worried for my safety if  I did take a job like that,” he said. “I was ready for the transition to this business.” When the subject turns to family, his smile returns and Mikey notes the photos on the wall of his sons’ baseball team, which Mikey’s sponsors. He happily displays family pictures on his Blackberry.  

ASE Certified technician working on a motor mount for a Lexus Es300.

Mikey likes computer technology and he prefers customers who are comfortable with it, like those who find his shop through Web search sites. “They’re sophisticated people and they’re techsavvy,” he says. “They understand there are going to be some expenses in fixing their car.” For example, these customers are likely to accept his explanation that fixing the current problem is only part of the work that should be done. If he tells them that other problems are likely down the road, based on his diagnostics, techsavvy customers are more likely to tell him to perform all the needed repairs and replacements.

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The owner, Mikey, behind his shop’s sign proudly posing 18 yrs of automotive service.

Sophisticated customers also know a fair price when they see it, and trust is an important part of Midtown’s success. As one customer wrote in May:
“I went there for an alignment because they had a better price compared to others in the downtown area. Mikey was there and took care of my car and made sure we knew what was going on, so there was no chance of surprises. Car was done exactly in the time they promised..”

Midtown Auto Service Named ‘Best Auto Shop.’

Undercar Digest-Auto Tech Trade Magazine-Houston,Tx

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

Mon Yu, owner of Midtown Auto Service in Houston, never planned to follow in his father’s footsteps as a shop operator – it just turned out that way. While working on his degree in criminal justice from the University of Houston, Mon spent weekends at his father’s shop, Mikey’s Muffler & Brake. For Mon it was just a way to have some extra money for the weekends.

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The owner, Mikey, explaining to a customer a diagnostic report on a check engine light.

To earn it, he performed the duties of porter, estimator and counterman – all at the same time. It was a start at learning the business from his father, Man Yu, who had learned shop management from a man who made a name for himself in Houston and the United States – Sam Meineke. Mon came to the United States from South Korea with his parents when he was only 3 years old. His father found employment with Sam in the heyday of muffler shops. In 1986 the franchise founder of Meineke Muffler & Brakes offered to sell the senior Yu one of his original three-bay buildings in Houston’s inner-city district. Because of his marketing sense, Man named the shop “Mikey’s” so it would sound similar to Meineke. To this day the Yu and Meineke families are friends. “I was planning on being a police officer, but my dad was at the age where he wanted to retire, so he sold the business to me,” Mon said. “Back then the American dream was to own your own business, and he said, ‘Why don’t you take over the business?” Back then this shop was only three bays.

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Mikey, showing the front of his shop displaying his State Certification and Master ASE signs.

In the past eight years that I’ve owned the business, I’ve increased the bays to a total of seven and I have revamped the shop. I’ve redone the floors and the outside parking lot, sixteen camera surveillance system added metal-rod fencing outside and rebuilt the entire building.” He also changed the business from a muffler and brake shop to a complete auto-repair center. Midtown’s services include engine diagnostics, alignments with the Hunter DSP600 laser aligner, electrical troubleshooting (the only one in the area), oil changes, brakes, starters and alternators, radiators and heaters, belts and hoses, air conditioning, timing belts, overheating issues, engines and head gaskets removal and replacement, muffler replacement and custom exhaust with a Huth bender.

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ASE Auto Technician Vicent Poliski discussing an electrical issue with the owner about a customers car with a battery drain.

“We are a recognized emission-repair facility, which means we have an ASE L1-certified technician, that our shop is certified and we have followed all the rules and regulations.” This allows Midtown to inspect and make emissions repairs, he said. In the case of low-income vehicle owners, the state will provide a
waiver and give the owner up to $600 to get the vehicle up to the proper emissions standards.Those repairs can be made only at a recognized facility, such as Midtown Auto Service . Mon gets quite a bit of that business, since only about 140 of the nearly 2,500 shops in the Houston metro area meet the criteria. Marcos Rodriguez is Midtown’s L1-certified technician, Mon Yoo is a Master Auto Tech and Kareem Burnley and Vincent Polisky have several ASE certifications each and are working toward their Masters. Mon supports training, paying for ASE tests that the technicians pass and any other technical classes that are being conducted in the area. Midtown also supports the community by sponsoring baseball and softball teams. Mon said Midtown’s success has a lot to do with
the shop’s location and the quality of service and repairs. In the early days under his dad’s ownership, the location was considered “the inner city” with older, lower-income housing and not much else. Today, the shop is between downtown and the Medical Center of Houston, where people from throughout the country come for cancer treatment.

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ASE Auto Technician Larry Wagner installing a new Ac Delco battery.

The area has gone through a renewal period, Mon said, with old homes and apartments being renovated. New townhouses with 1,800 square feet of living area are starting at $300,000. “It’s turned into townhouses and yuppies” moving in,” Mon said. “We’re really in a great spot on a major
intersection. Our main customers are white-collar, and we normally run about three shuttles a day to take customers downtown or to the medical complex.” Mon noted that Midtown prides itself on its customer service. “We don’t take in more work than we can handle, and we do quality work. Although in the earlier days Mikey’s repaired a lot of older Ford, GM and Chrysler products, today the shop works on a wide variety of vehicles including OBD-II domestic and most imports, as well as Lexus, Volkswagon, BMW, Audi and Jaguar models. Mon said he has no regrets about not entering the field of law enforcement. He is proud of the accomplishments he and his team have made. “One of my bragging rights is that in 2005 I was the winner on Yahoo’s search engine,” he said. “Out of 100,000 clicks, I beat out every single shop in this area. In 2006 I was winner of the Best Auto Repair Shop in houstonbest.com. In citysearch.com, in two different search engines, we were winner of best auto-repair shop.”

Midtown Auto-Voted Houston’s Auto Repair of the Year 2006/Houston,Tx

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

Midtown Auto Service & Repair — Voted Houston’s Auto Repair of the Year by Subscribers of The Local Newspaper.


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