By Sandra Coopersmith
One would think that in this economy, where hardly a day goes by that we don't read about cutbacks, companies would be putting the brakes on expansion. Westside Brake & Tires, however, is in acceleration mode.
This family-owned business was founded in West Los Angeles in 1988 and relocated to 4155 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City in 1996. It stocks well known brands and models of tires and wheels and offers a fully equipped service department with certified automotive technicians.
Pedro Lopez, who emigrated from El Salvador and worked for many years in the automotive industry, is its president. Administrative management and sales are handled, respectively, by his daughter, Jeniffer Lopez and son, William Lopez. Additionally, there are 12 employees.
Information about the many services provided by this comprehensive, one-stop company is available by calling (310) 636-4445 or visiting the website, www.westsidebrakeandtires.com. The website also includes an extensive section on tires, maintenance tips, money-saving driving habits, safety basics for the entire family and emergency situations – valuable information for everyone.
Back to the pending expansion – why, at this particular time?
"Cars are lined up, waiting to go in," Jennifer explained. "Everyone wants a fast in-and-out and with the extra space we'll be able to speed up the process. Right now we have the manpower but we don't have the space. This will increase our efficiency. We have already bought the adjacent property and expect to complete the city approval procedures shortly. We anticipate that sometime this summer we'll commence the conversion to approximately double our space."
"In 2008 the economy crashed but we've been growing," said Pedro, a stellar example of the American Dream, who considers himself "the luckiest man alive." He cited his father as his greatest inspiration and credited his church for the strong spiritual support he has received. "God has been good with me," he said, "and He has given me His grace to be able to do all of this. For me, this nation is the holy land and God gave me all this to give my family what I never had, and to educate my kids."
Family businesses require a special dynamic, and this family's synergy is in perfect alignment.
"My father is the essence of the business," said Jeniffer, "and we three work together well. We nurture each other and work as a team. My brother and I have never worked anywhere else, and I don't think I could. We've been able to stay united as a family. The same purpose drives all three of us and has made us a successful family business that will not just continue but will continue to grow." "I'm happiest here with my kids," Pedro added. "Working the way we do, no matter how busy or stressful it may get, I'm home."
The services provided are wide-ranging to comply with constant technological advances.
"Now we have electric cars and hybrids," Jeniffer said. "A traditional mechanic got his hands dirty changing a spark plug but the concept has changed so, in order to stay abreast, all our equipment is brand new and state-of-the art, enabling us to service domestic, Asian and European cars. We do a lot of high end celebrity cars and can accommodate exotic cars. Our clients also include top management people and executives as well as their personnel. We can compete because we are diversified and our customers come from all walks of life. Our technicians have ability and knowledge, and are trained through seminars and also in-house."
Because their clients' interests are paramount, they make a point of staying current on what's happening in the industry.
"My brother is always reading up on recalls" Jeniffer said. "We need you as a happy client. If it's a recall item, we tell you to take your car to the dealer and get it fixed. Stuff that's not a recall, come back and we'll repair that!"
She explained that, unfortunately, some mechanics have a very flexible code of ethics regarding recalls and warranties, and "some would never mention anything to the customer. They would just fix the problem and charge the customer. Some unscrupulous mechanics would even take the car to the dealer, have the problem fixed for free, and charge the customer."
Judy Allen, a repeat customer, holds William and the business in such high esteem that she even sent him a thank you card.
"Three or four years ago I had a flat tire and at the place I went to have it fixed, one of the customers there recommended Westside," she said. "About 15 minutes later another customer made the same recommendation and that was it. My family and I have been coming here ever since."
She described an incident involving the acquisition of a car that was pre-certified by the dealership. Regardless, she took it to William for review and he had some concerns. She took it back to the dealer, who insisted William was mistaken and the car was fine. She called William from the dealership, he intervened, and eventually the dealer admitted William was right.
"They always give the best information and guidance," she emphasized. "I would never use anyone else. They are just like family."
This business puts a high priority on developing and maintaining relationships with clients and the community, including buying tires locally, and this year is again a sponsor of the 11th annual George Barris Cruisin' Back To The '50s Culver City Car Show. "We are also contributing 1,000 bottles of water to be given out free," said Jeniffer.
They've established a strong, positive presence.
"It's like Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood here!" Jeniffer laughed. "Everyone knows us. We walk down the street wearing tennis shoes and T-shirts and everyone says hi." Little wonder, for this highly reputable family business is a quality neighbor that, through its planned expansion, is revving up its ability to bring excellent service to the community.