Mexican Immigrant Builds Automotive Business from the Group Up

Joaquin Cordero met his wife while working in Cancun, and moved with her in 1998 to Boise, her hometown. He had earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in Mexico, but did not have U.S. licensure and spoke only Spanish. So he went to work as an auto technician.

“When I arrived, I knew no English. I went to the university here, it had ESL classes. I took those for a few years, twice a week,” he says. “Then I took some formal English classes at the university.” Later, he entered a master’s degree program in engineering.

When the recession hit his company in 2008, Cordero volunteered for the first round of layoffs.

“I thought it was time to look for something else. Since I like to work on cars and work on mechanical stuff, I decided to open my own shop,” he says. “It was my first business. But my dad was an instructor mechanic in my hometown, and he has his own shop. So I knew some things. And I also worked in a dealership.”

“I was pretty confident about how to fix cars, but I didn’t know anything about how to present it to the customer, about having a web site, how much money to have, that kind of stuff,” he says. “It was a little crazy.”

Cordero may not have known what he didn’t know when he started, but when it became apparent, he sought out management seminars and attended industry conferences to learn. Steadily, the business grew. Now, 10 years later, 27th St. Automotive has seven employees, four of whom were born in the United States, has expanded to five bays, and serves almost 2,000 customers a year. He donates thousands of dollars annually to the Boise public school his sons attend.

To be honest, at the beginning it was a rough transition. But there are always challenges. It’s just part of life. Now I like Boise more. It is my home.”

“To be honest, at the beginning it was a rough transition,” he says of his move to a new country. “But there are always challenges. It’s just part of life.”

“Now I like Boise more. It is my home,” he adds. “I got lucky that when I asked people, they helped me.”

About NAE

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