When dealing with the task of inevitable car repairs, Paul Wilson said he notices a fear of having a mechanic overcharge a customer or not properly fix the vehicle’s issue.
Wilson, better known as the man behind Paul’s Auto Repair & Collision, which is located behind the BP gas station on 133 Cuttermill Road, is baffled as to why getting a vehicle fixed is viewed as such a daunting task.
“I don’t understand why a mechanic would work over their customers and lose future business,” Wilson said during a sitdown interview with Blank Slate Media. “People come to me and pay for a service that they cannot do themselves. Because of that, I fix that vehicle for a fair price, and accommodate to my customers as much as possible.”
Wilson was not born and raised in Great Neck, or even in America.
He moved to Long Island in 2002 from Czechoslovakia. There, he studied mechanical engineering that provided him with a deeper understanding of how everything in the auto repair world works.
“I have the knowledge behind what goes into fixing any vehicle that enters my shop,” Wilson said. “It started out as a hobby, then turned into education, and ever since I stepped on this wonderful land of opportunity, it has been a career.”
Wilson initially worked for the previous owner of the repair shop before stepping into that position himself. He said one of the biggest keys to success he’s found in owning the store is the chemistry between himself and all of his other employees.
“Everyone you see here loves cars and loves to fix them,” Wilson said. “They also like working for me, and like working with each other. I think that aspect of the business is very noticeable for the customers, especially in our small shop. They can see what goes on, and if they don’t like what they see, they will find someone else.”
The shop offers general repairs such as oil maintenance, brake pad changes, engine replacements, battery service, and more. Though having fewer resources than franchise auto repair shops such as Pep Boys, Wilson and his team aid their customers while waiting for their vehicle to be repaired.
“It’s all about convenience for the customers,” Wilson said. “We will give our customers a walkthrough of exactly what will be done to their vehicle, and make sure that they are comfortable throughout the whole process. There is no problem or repair too small here. We deal with full-on collisions to the smallest dents or check engine lights.”
While Great Neck residents may be attracted to the store by Wilson’s growing reputation around town, he said, his employees have made relationships with the community that goes beyond even their own knowledge.
Prior to Wilson sitting down for the interview, two customers were being helped by an employee. When the employee called out the customer’s name, he immediately asked, “Have you checked your tire pressure recently? The last time I saw you here filling them up was a few months ago.”
The customer had completely forgotten that she had even filled up her tires at the shop several months ago.
“That’s the type of connection we strive to make with people here,” Wilson said. “We want them to know that we have their best interest at heart. Obviously, we are trying to make money and everyone is here for a paycheck. But that paycheck isn’t what keeps them, or even myself here, it’s the people.”
Wilson said that establishing trust with the customers has been one of his biggest takeaways working in the auto repair industry.
“This feeling of a lack of trust across the auto repair industry is disappointing to see,” he said. “At the end of the day, the customer and I share the same goal of wanting to get their vehicle fixed correctly and as quickly as possible.”
Having left his hometown and voyaging to the U.S. as a 20-year-old, Great Neck is the only community here that Wilson has been a part of.
“I see hundreds of people a week, and I fix just as many cars in that same time frame,” he said. “Ninety-nine percent of the people that come in here, I consider my close friends and extended family. I am forever grateful for the people of Great Neck and the opportunity to work in this wonderful area.”