NEW BRITAIN - Jesus Ruiz graduated from E.C. Goodwin Technical High School in 2000.
After working at various auto shops, he had seen the good and bad sides of the business.
That’s why he decided to set up his own shop. J’s Auto Sales & Repair, at 866 W. Main St., run by Ruiz and his wife, Minerva Cardona, opened on July 30.
“I have complete control,” said Ruiz, who goes by “J.” “You work for other companies, they tell you what to charge, how fast to work, what to sell.”
In his own shop, Ruiz said he’ll do important work first and let customers decide when they want other, less critical, repairs made.
“We’ll do what you need. We’ll get to it as it comes,” he said.
Stressing that he doesn’t want J’s to be like a corporate auto shop, Ruiz said he will always go the extra mile to repair cars, whether that be detailing, replacing wiper blades or replacing a burnt-out taillight at no extra cost.
“The car’s got to look better than when it came in,” said Ruiz, adding he wants the process to be transparent from A to Z.
The garage, with four bays, offers all kinds of auto mechanical repairs from oil changes to engine work.
But it didn’t open without tests and challenges.
Lorraine Mattison, whose father owns the building, said it took about four years to get all the approvals - a previous potential shop operator had pulled out - and around $400,000 of investments to get the shop running. That included upgrading the infrastructure, paving and landscaping.
The place had been a marine repair shop, an auto repair shop and a gas station.
The property had to have ground testing done and variances approved by city boards, as well as approval from the state to register vehicles.
“We jumped through a lot of hoops,” said Mattison.
“He did it the right way and we’re really proud. ... What that shows is he wants to be a fabric of the community,” said Bill Carroll, director of economic development for the city. “This is good. He did a beautiful job.”
Going forward, Ruiz said, he is looking to add emissions testing and a program to help Goodwin Tech students come to the shop to get some hands-on experience. He’ll also be selling cars.
“I want to help those students achieve what I achieved. … You can definitely achieve it if you work hard,” said Ruiz. “[I] definitely want to be a positive business in general, help out the community, be involved.”
As a way to give back to the community, Ruiz said he will offer a 20 percent discount to all city employees, teachers, seniors, veterans, police officers and firefighters.
“Here’s to a long time coming. … We’re finally here,” said Mayor Erin Stewart during a ribbon cutting on Wednesday. “It looks beautiful and amazing and exceeding everybody’s expectations. … I want to thank you so much for being such great partners and we want to wish you all the best, and lots of business and we hope you make lots of money here in the city of New Britain. Here’s to lots of luck.”
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.