OAKHURST — In 1990, Otto “Noe” Gramajo was working for Jeff Taylor at Jeff’s Fine Auto Service in Coarsegold. They specialized in Volvos, both maintenance and repair along with the sale of the popular foreign car. Jeff was looking to move to San Luis Obispo and Noe seized the moment by buying the company. Little did he know, a new life as an integral part of our mountain community and trusted business owner was about to start.
In 1996, Noe moved the business to Oakhurst, where the newly-named Advanced Auto took on new life. They operated a tow truck at that time, named ‘The Spirit of Coarsegold.” Noe continued to specialize in Volvos as well as all other autos, pickups and diesels but, as the trends were changing, Subarus were fast becoming the chosen car for the mountain area and beyond. Astute businessman that he is, Noe moved in time with the market and soon became the mountain area’s Subaru sales and specialist shop.
The auto business came naturally to Noe. His family immigrated from Guatemala in 1976, when Noe was just 11 years old, settling into West Los Angeles and the American way of life. At a time when every young man’s focus was owning a hot rod or shining convertible, and cruising the boulevard on a Saturday night was the LA standard, teenage Noe found himself in the auto repair business. He went off to college to earn an engineer’s degree, but realized that his true love was with cars, and always gravitated back to them. He was never satisfied by what he saw in the auto business and was determined to bring improvements to the industry. He knew he wanted to be of value to the customer.
By 1987, “the most beautiful German girl to cross a young man’s path” had captured Noe’s heart, he says, and they were soon married. Today, Noe and Donata have seven children between 19 and 29 years old, that fill their life with joy. As young newlyweds, the couple knew they wanted to buy a home but the market in LA was just not affordable. That’s when a family friend invited them for a visit to the historic town of Coarsegold, and they quickly fell in love with the neighborhood. It didn’t take much time before they found their home in Indian Lakes.
“Here, we are happy and successful, and it’s in one of the very best places to raise a family in California,” Noe says now.
His innate gift with autos together with quality business practices caught on and has continuously grown through the years. In 2000, Noe expanded the business with the purchase of their current facility and land from the Bernardi Rental Company, and also purchased Technique Towing to enhance what they offer. With an outstanding crew, including James Gillaspy, Kutter Morrison, Gelmi DePaz, Jessie Butterfield, Steve Brock and Michael Shimmer, their specialty is preventive maintenance with quality craftsmanship. They take their jobs seriously in the care of their clientele.
A year later they expanded again, purchasing the local Hertz Rental Car Agency. Now Advanced Auto tows, repairs and rents, in what Noe says is the only true full service auto center in Eastern Madera County. They strongly believe that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of medicine.”
“With the implementation of our Courtesy Inspections you may find you do not need all we offer,” explains Noe. “We believe in preventive maintenance and that makes up the majority of our work base. There was a time when we use to see around 60% of our clientele for repairs, that is a thing of the past.”
Noe had been attending auto management classes on the East Coast in the late 90s and kept hearing about preventive maintenance being the way to go, but it wasn’t until 2002 when he implemented the program that they began to see the changes. They noticed that all of their tow calls were being delivered to other repair shops. These were not his clientele they were towing, yet the volume of business continued to grow.
Noe attributes their success to the 15-minute courtesy inspection they perform on all customers’ vehicles, saving them thousands of dollars over the life of their car.
“We prevent most breakdowns before they happen,” he adds, “and our motto says it all: quality service you can depend on.”
With the prevention program, the team checks for leaks, brakes, tires and all of the vital points.
“We then set up a custom plan that works within the client’s budget to maintain their vehicle ahead of time, so they are not caught unaware with breakdowns. If you do break down on the side of the road, our very own tow trucks, including the Bumble Bee, Speedy or the Spirit of Coarsegold, will pick you up in a jiffy. We’ll service or repair whatever your vehicle needs.”
Besides specializing in preventive and factory maintenance, their greatest success is in providing an honest, family-friendly atmosphere. Advanced Auto has a shop in Mariposa, also. Advanced Auto Center – Technique/Ponderosa Towing continues to serve our area at the highest level with trusted relationships you can count on.
Give Advanced Auto Center a call and talk to James or Kutter at (559) 642-4277 for Advanced Auto and car rentals, or for a Tow call (559) 683-6808.