Sun Valley Automotive Repair
4553 North Rancho Dr., Las Vegas Nevada 89130
Locally Owned and Operated
Open 7 Days a Week: 7 A.M. to Midnight
Sun Valley Automotive was established in 1988 by the current owner and operator, Terry Buis (Check out Terry’s story on how the biz was started below!). Since that time, “The Shop” has grown to offer complete Las Vegas auto repair services – including the cheapest Las Vegas Oil Change.
At Sun Valley Automotive, we believe in a team environment which supports not only our current employees, but our customers as well. These values have helped us to stay in business for over two decades. To find out more about our complete automotive services, take a look at our Services page.
We would like to extend a special “Thank-you” to all of our customers, new and old, who continue to support our locally owned and operated Las Vegas auto repair business!
Check out owner Terry Buis’ story about how Sun Valley Automotive began
(You may want to grab a few snacks and get comfortable for this!).
Terry Buis – Owner Sun Valley Automotive
In 1981, I was standing next to a gruff greasy looking fellow at the local gas station in Thousand Oaks, California. Leaning on the fender of my 1965 Chevy pickup he said “Well it’s either gas or electrical” and followed it up with “it’s $25 an hour” and that he would need a few hours to check the car, and perhaps he’d locate the source of my troubles or perhaps not, but either way more time would be needed.
I was looking at this fellow wiping his hands on a shop rag thinking of my low paying construction job, wife and new baby at home and a savings account that did not exist yet because of the a fore mentioned items. I had dabbled in fixing my own vehicles as a teen and knew enough to service and fix a few things – and just enough to know when I was in over my head. More to the point I was thinking this is a lot of money and on an old truck like mine with very few modern technical advances since the Model T…how could it be so difficult and how can I pay that? So I drove away thinking if this is the trend for the future I need to study up some so I can fix my own vehicle.
That same month I enrolled in Oxnard Community College’s automotive course. At the time it was one of two collages nationwide where the automotive department was open to the public, rather than having the students work on donated vehicles and pretend problems. This was real life; a pretty cool deal for many locals as the area was economically depressed, and it was a place where local farming and warehouse laborers worked and lived.
They would get their vehicle looked at and repaired with no labor charges and only ten percent above parts cost. The condition was the vehicle stayed until it was fixed. The facility was huge, fully equipped offering major and minor repairs of every type, staffed with instructors and aids to oversee students, class room sessions in the morning and the rest of the 5 day, 40 hour work week was hands on.
I stayed on for a year while working a part time job in the evenings. I specialized in Brakes, Front-end, Alignments and Engine Performance and when I could I’d sneak into the engine rebuilding department. The year passed quickly and showed potential as I was offered an instructor’s aid job. That was a state job, good pay with benefits. Hit the lottery! I was sworn in and added to the college’s staff. Sadly that was also the time that the country was hit with a recession, and California was hit especially hard. I was a teacher’s aid for 6 months, and then I was let go by a state mandate that basically said last hired-first to go – Bummer because that was a cool gig.
I was grateful for that opportunity, and I guess I owe the same gratitude to that greasy mechanic I met a year and a half ago. Little did I know then that this course correction would one day lead me to owning one of the most trusted and successful auto repair shops in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Moving on in my career I worked for many respected businesses both large and small in California, Hawaii and Nevada all the while continuing my education at every opportunity, becoming nationally certified in many specialized areas and attending advanced workshops. I had come into the industry at an exciting time, just before the introduction of the on-board computer. All manufactures trying this and that, advancements happened at a pace that was very hard to keep up with. It was so fast paced that many older techs said this will never work and shied away from the new technology. Sadly that sealed their fate and those that did not stay educated went the way of the dinosaurs.
Thirsty for technical knowledge I also found the business end of it interesting as well. Most techs are happy to be working the line. I was too, but in many situations I was frustrated that the management could not sell the job. When I’d look into why the job was declined it was clear the staff was not giving the right information to customers and in many cases adding items that were not needed. It was very frustrating for me even though I was being paid a low hourly wage standing around or working. But I wanted to turn wrenches as opposed to standing around.
I was offered a job. An interesting offer, not heard of much then, where the tech gets paid a commission for the work rather than a pay check based on hours worked. This was exciting and scary at the same time because it alluded to high earnings but also meant no-work no-pay. I was up for the challenge, I was highly skilled, fast and did the job right and with another child and bills mounting it was an offer I could not resist.
I’d paid my dues; I worked on all manufactures vehicles – not specialized on one brand. There were times of no work or little work, and high end tools and computer scanners which used to be supplied by the automotive business were now required gear that the techs had to supply.
It seemed like with each new vehicle out, there was a dozen specialty tools to go along with each make and model – and the hours were long. Many times I would set up 2 or 3 jobs for the evening, go home and have dinner with the family, tuck the boys in bed and head back to the shop at 10pm to midnight to finish a few more jobs in the quiet of the night.
Six days a week was standard, and many a Sundays I worked half day. The bright side was the pay was better and I was becoming very skilled. I sold my own jobs, speaking directly with the customers, building relationships and trust. I was billing my job tickets, ordering parts, answering the phone calls, shaking hands coming and going and I liked it that way. I was in control, I paid attention to the customer, the details and concerns, and it became second nature to me – I actually enjoyed the hectic pace too. At times I would think “I’m doing it all now why not open my own shop?”.
In the summer of 1988 with a few dollars in my hand I worked a deal and obtained a little 4-bay shop on the north end of Las Vegas. This little shop was a disaster by all sense of the word. Filthy pig pens were ten times cleaner. It took me two weeks of scrubbing to see if it was a concrete or dirt floor. The bathroom was condemnable by all health codes of nature. It took forever to get the paint to stick to the walls – it kept melting off!
After months of clean-up and financial worries, I was finally open for business…in the middle of nowhere. There was no Casino, Feed Store or corner gas stations. It was dirt and desert as far as you could see with a few scattered old farm houses and some newer homes being built to the north/east. So far out that most people thought they were heading to Reno. Parts deliveries would not show up, I’d call and they’d say “We can’t find you!” – “Keep going north!” I’d say. Thankfully I had built a well earned reputation and good customer base, and customers would come from all over town so I could look at their vehicles.
Sun Valley Automotive Employee count in 1988 – Me. Myself and I:
I’d greet customers, answer the calls, order parts, fix the cars, cash the tickets and do the books. There were no lifts to raise vehicles because the ceiling height was too low, so it was all done on the ground inside and out, 7 days a week- 7am to 9pm. I had a tiny little office just big enough for a small desk and two chairs: three was a crowd.
I found an old sturdy picnic table and put it out front. That table was a meeting place, eating place, shop lounge, nap area and more. My family would come up most evenings and bring dinner and we’d sit there in the warm months and enjoy our meal, talk and laugh. Many times I’d wonder what was I thinking, but it was better than where I was and I was determined to build this little shop into something cool. I envisioned an automotive repair shop where customers are treated with honesty and integrity, where techs can work in a good environment, earn a good pay and have fun doing it. But there was a long road ahead before that vision became a reality.
Two years later I hired my first employee for Sun Valley Automotive, and from there my little shop grew and grew. At the height of it all I believe there were a dozen or so employees, and we had new style lifts for short ceilings installed inside, and out back we had six lifts for cars, trucks and RV’s.
That little shop was the busiest year-round automotive shop in Vegas. Our hours went to 7am to Midnight, 7 days a week. That old broken down shop held up and shined.
In 2004 I looked into buying land and constructing a building. That process took 5 years and a whole lot of headaches to accomplish (I’d like to say it was a smooth process, but sadly it was anything but smooth).
In January 2009 I opened the doors to my new Sun Valley Automotive shop. We opened with 35 employees and the shop was actually open 24 hours for two months. It’s been trying times for us all in this economy, but currently we have over 20 employees and are still holding our original hours 7 days a week, 7am to midnight.
I’d like to say a personal thank-you to all the people who have trusted in me over the decades and allowed Sun Valley Automotive to service their vehicles needs – and for the valued friendships that have been formed over the years. Our commitment to you the customer, along with our integrity, has been ongoing since before the business was named. It’s my hopes we’ll all share these friendships for many years to come.
Thanks to all of our customers and employees for making very cool dreams come true!
Owner – Sun Valley Automotive
Sun Valley Automotive Repair is here from 7 AM to Midnight 7 days a week. Feel free to contact us with any questions that you may have!