Auto shop works hard to get drivers back on the road
Wilson’s Auto Shop (WAW), located in New Brighton, MN, can be best described as an all-around repair shop. Owner Wilson Halley said, “Not only do we do mechanical stuff—oil changes, tires, transmissions—we even do the bodywork: bumpers, doors, whatever it may be.” The business also offers detailing and interior services.
Halley is originally from El Palso, Texas, and grew up in Southeast Minneapolis, the U of M’s Dinkytown area, he said.
“I went to Sheridan Elementary over in Northeast Minneapolis, and then for high school, I went to De La Salle,” he said. After he graduated from high school, Halley chose to pursue his passion.
“I went to Dunwoody for a year. Then I moved out to Chicago and went to UTI [Universal Technical Institute],” he added. Halley graduated from UTI in 2009 and returned to Minnesota where he spent some time working for a local automotive business.
“I was a technician myself for about 10 years and then just decided it was time. Being an independent business owner is a dream come true,” he said. “As far as the business goes, it was 2017 when I purchased it and I’ve been here ever since. I’m just trying to grow it.”
“I got very lucky. I live five minutes away from this shop. In high school,” he recalled, “I brought my car into this shop for repair not knowing even at the time I wanted to fix cars—let alone own it one day.”
There wasn’t much for Halley to do when he opened the business. “It was turnkey, meaning everything was set up here, all the equipment. So, when I took over it was basically under new management,” he said.
In the beginning, there weren’t a lot of customers or employees. Now, “We’re booked two weeks in advance,” he said. Halley explained that “word of mouth” and “a little bit of advertising” helped the business grow.
“Throughout the years you get better—every day is on-the-job learning. Everything is different, every car is different, but it took time,” Halley explained.
However, operating a business can be risky. “I was very nervous, too, when I took over. I got it for a good price, but it was a good price because it wasn’t doing too well,” Halley said.
“You’ve always got the rent and mortgage or whatever it may be on a building that you have,” he said. Although business can be challenging and nerve-racking, there are rewarding aspects.
Most importantly, Halley aspires to be of service to his community. “Since the auto industry is a hard industry as far as reputation, we want to put out a good, reputable, honest service,” he said. WAW has an all-star team of mechanics ready to help customers get back on the road.
This auto shop also offers “upfront pricing and honesty. If they need it, we do offer courtesy cars; there’s no charge,” Halley explained. Drivers can also receive financing and a welcoming experience.
He added, “When they’re here, we do want to make them feel like we care, [make] their car a priority, and get them back on the road.” WAW offers a warranty for “three years, 36,000 miles,” Halley said.
Right now, “We’re doing a lot of tires, that’s kind of a seasonal thing. Oil changes are obviously pretty big, [our] most popular service,” Halley said. During this season, “There’s body work stuff—people’s heat is going out.” He encourages everyone to focus on their tires, “making sure there’s enough meat or tread on them.
“The repeat customers, also the new customers” are the highlights in his business. “The satisfaction when you get somebody’s car and it runs like crap and you bring it back to life is very rewarding,” he said.
Halley explained his mindset for being successful: “You’ve got to be goal-oriented. Stuff isn’t always going to go your way. You’re gonna have bad days; you’re gonna have good days.” He added, “Always keep moving.
“In business, you’re going to make it depending on how much work you put into it. No one is going to care about your business as much as you do,” he said.
Wilson’s Auto World is located at 1850 New Brighton Blvd, Minneapolis, MN 55418. For more info, visit www.wilsonsautoworldmn.com or call 612-781-1788.
Ashley Lauren is a contributing writer at the MN Spokesman-Recorder.