Longtime mechanic works for himself

November 13, 2009 

Robert Fandrey runs a small operation.

It's him, his wife, father-in-law and an apprentice. In an economy that made it hard for the auto mechanic to find work, Fandrey's solution was also his dream -- to go into business for himself.

"It's something I always wanted to do. I worked for other shops and I've seen the things they do to people and it didn't make me feel comfortable. But now that I own the shop I can make the calls," Fandrey said. "When I want to help somebody when they really need help I can do it."

Fandrey Automotive Repair opened on the 800 block of Pacheco Boulevard in April. The 20-plus year veteran of fixing cars took advantage of a Redevelopment Agency program that helped his business get started. He said everything was fine until the government started pushing its Cash for Clunkers program.

"The government really didn't think that out very well," Fandrey said. "They didn't think about what it would do to the repair industry. All them cars they took of the road, those were the cars we were maintaining. Not just me, but the other shops in town. It's hit all of us."

For the past three months business has slowed, but the garage in Fandrey's shop still has enough vehicles coming through it in need of repair that it keeps him and his apprentice busy.

Fandrey prides himself on being able to repair everything from modern vehicles to classic cars. It's a trait he hasn't found in many of the people in the generation of mechanics younger than him. He said how to fix the older cars is not even taught anymore in some automotive repair programs.

Fandrey, who wasn't able to finsh high school partly due to a severe motorcycle accident, is most proud of his Automotive Service Excellence certificates. They are all displayed prominently in his shop.

"I was pretty proud to get those A.S.E.s after all the years working on cars and never having them, and the only training I had was out of high school," he said. "When I put my mind to something I do it. I had it in my mind for a few years to get my own business going."

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