HAVELOCK | Pablo Verduzco had really never puts his hands on the engine of a car until he met Corey Gabbard.
That was a year and a half ago. Now they have a new automotive garage called Elite Auto Services on Main Street in Havelock.
The pair started working on the cars of family members and friends.
“We did it at our houses and at our customers’ houses and now we’ve opened a shop,” said Verduzco.
Then they started fixing cars and flipping them.
The new business, located at 901 E. Main St., employs six people including two mechanics, a detailer, a shop helper and two receptionists.
“We’re really excited. We have a good group, a good team,” said Verduzco.
Verduzco is also a co-owner of Verduzco Wraps, Soups and Salads in the Westbrooke Shopping Center and volunteers as a youth soccer coach in Havelock.
Gabbard, 20, a 2014 graduate of Havelock High School, is now acting more as the front office guy than a mechanic.
“I just manage them and put them where they need to go,” said Gabbard. “I send them to whoever is the best person to fix them.”
Gabbard learned the trade by shadowing other mechanics and learning from them. He says the business is stressful, but is working.
“It’s harder than I thought it would be,” said Gabbard.
Verduzco trusts him.
“Corey is really young, but the knowledge that he has about cars is really unbelievable,” he said.
Corey’s brother, Brandon Gabbard, is a certified motorcycle mechanic.
“That’s my strong point, but I also do the cars and trucks,” he said. “They hand me the green piece of paper and I do what they tell me. We’re pretty well rounded back there. Being a mechanic teaches you two things, patience and every cuss word in the book.”
The business has also teamed up with Freedom Towing and Recovery to offer 24-hour towing services.
Verduzco said much of the initial business has come from automobile dealerships bringing cars in to be fixed. Other work has come from rental car agencies.
“We’re small but we’re showing that we can stay with the bigger shops,” said Verduzco. “We’re not here to compete with anybody. We’re here to serve the public.”
They are also trying to remain competitive for oil changes by offering them for $19.99 for a four-quart change and $22.99 for a five-quart change.
“So far, so good,” said Verduzco. “It started slow, but now it’s picking up.”