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Meet Leonel Lamas Sr. of Leo’s Auto Repair in Lomita

Today we’d like to introduce you to Leonel Lamas Sr.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was born in a small ranch of Zacatecas, Mexico as the second child in a family of 16.

Growing up on a ranch meant that I had a lot of responsibilities with tending the fields, helping out around the house, with my siblings, and a bit of schooling. Elementary school was the furthest education I received because I had to help out my father in the fields and with the family. Being the eldest son, I always had to set the example for my younger siblings and that helped foster a deep familial bond between them and me. I first decided to immigrate to the USA when I was about 15 in order to be able to work and send money home for my parents and siblings. I didn’t actually make the trip until I was 17 when I came to California and started working with some cousins that came with in the restaurant industry.

I stayed in the restaurant business for a few years and then bounced around jobs for a while until some of my brothers joined me in California. Ever since I was young I had a fascination with automobiles and living in a ranch like we did there was no auto repair shops or mechanics everyone had to learn to fix their own vehicles or just not drive. So I had a basic familiarity with fixing cars. I took that fascination I had as a kid and channeled it into a passion to learn more about vehicles and that’s exactly what I did. I started taking courses at El Camino, talking with people in the industry, reading every book I could get my hands on, and whenever I could find new classes (outside of school) offering some specialized training I’d jump at the opportunity. I passed some of that passion onto my 2 younger brothers that came to California and they began their own journey. It was around this time that my second child was born and I decided to move back to Mexico to be closer to my parents and siblings.

So my wife and I packed up our bags and moved to start a new life. I opened an auto repair facility over there, but it was difficult for a lot of years since I wasn’t able to get proper equipment or new training over there. I spent years working as hard as I could with very little return until eventually my wife talked me into returning to California and I have to say it was the best decision we could have made. Having the book knowledge in my head I started apprenticing at shops in different locations just getting my foot more in the door until I got to meet someone who gave me my first break. He owned a few gas stations and happened to have one that had an adjoining shop that was just vacated. I took the opportunity and with the help of my brothers we opened up our first shop in Lomita at a Mobil gas station. We stayed there a few years before it was bought out and our lease terminated that we ventured out looking for a new location. Thankfully we found a shop that was selling just a few blocks down from our previous location. With that Leo’s Auto Repair was born and we’ve been happily serving the Lomita area as a family owned and operated repair facility for the last 12 years. My son has recently joined us as a new service advisor and I am preparing him to take over for when I retire. I’m also a big supporter of Kiwanis international and am currently a board member of my local chapter. Even served as the president last year.

Has it been a smooth road?
Having come to the United States with no knowledge of English was my first struggle, after I learned English it opened a lot of doors. After that getting my brothers on board with opening our own shop was a struggle of its own, but now with the team and support I have around me it should be smoother down the road.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Leo’s Auto Repair story. Tell us more about the business.
I own Leo’s Auto Repair and we specialize it auto repair and maintenance. We’re a full-service auto repair offering general maintenance like oil changes and fluid services to more specialized work like engine swaps. We’ve recently started expanding and now offer stereo installations, window tinting, and IID installations. I’m most proud of how we’ve been able to keep to our roots and run this business as a family, from my brothers to my children working here, and we try to spread that same feeling of belonging to our guests. Everyone who gives us the opportunity to service their vehicle we treat as family and try our best to meet all their needs and expectations and then some!

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
There’s a huge shift in progress right now and it’s only getting bigger in the future, Cars are starting to become, some already are, just giant computers. Everything is electronic in newer cars or controlled by computers in the vehicles. Now you have cars with built-in Wi-Fi as well as electric cars and we’re not too far off from self-driving cars! As a professional in the business I have to make sure to keep up the training for both me and my technicians so that we can keep up with all the new technologies coming out.

Pricing:

  • Smog Checks $39.99 Plus certificate on vehicles 2000 and newer
  • Maintanence Packages starting at $49.99 *ask for more details

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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