INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Stereotypes of constant joking and teasing among men working together in the automotive industry are confirmed at Incline Auto Parts, as the banter among the managers and employees seems to be nonstop.
The store’s co-manager, Todd Willard, said he likes people, likes the people part of the business and likes joking around.
His culprits — younger employees with a passion for cars and desire to learn the business — catch most of the slack, but the young men certainly aren’t afraid to send it right back.
“Humor is a really big part of working here,” said Jorge Barragan, one the newer employees at the store. “It can be stressful, so to have a laugh here and there really calms you down.”
All teasing aside, Willard and Jim Melvin, the other store manager, also take the time to teach the younger employees who are eager to learn.
“Every day you learn something new,” Barragan said. “It’s like school.”
Barragan attended Incline High School with his friend Eddie Gonzalez, and the two have been with Incline Auto Parts since last year.
Both young men said they have always had a passion for cars and are glad to be involved with the local automotive industry.
“When someone comes in with a diesel truck, I have to ask Todd or Jim and it gets me to that step of actually learning,” Barragan said.
With the help and training from their elders, Barragan and Gonzalez bring skills vital to business at Incline Auto Parts.
The two are first-generation Americans, and because they are bilingual, Spanish-speaking customers receive quality service.
The duo also pride themselves on knowing the car preferences of a younger crowd.
“It helps being bilingual,” Gonzalez said. “We can explain in Spanish and it’s also better being rookies because we know the slang names of parts.”
The men at Incline Auto Parts do not share in age nor in appearance, but all have a passion for cars.
Willard and Melvin have 30 years of experience in the industry and bring their expertise to the job, although it’s hard, Willard said, to know everything about every car ever been made.
“We carry our crystal balls to work a lot of the times to try to help people figure out what’s going on,” Willard said.
The men said they continue to read up on Napa parts and don’t see themselves going anywhere any time soon.
“This is what I know — I’ll be selling auto parts until they don’t make spark plugs anymore,” Willard said.
Barragan’s love for cars began when he was a young boy with a Hot Wheels collection.
Gonzalez remembers hanging around his father and older brother, “watching on as they’d be wrenching.”
Both boys took an automotive class at Incline High, where they said their teacher, Bryan Thornton, “taught us not only about cars but about life in general,” Gonzalez said.
Barragan plans to continue his education by taking advanced automotive classes at Truckee Meadows Community College this fall.
After working jobs at Safeway, Sierra Nevada College and in landscaping, the young man is enthusiastic to be where he is today.
“Working here and being around auto parts is on the path moving toward what I want to do,” he said.
Erick Martinez comes to the shop to buy parts for his Audi and usually ends up staying to joke and laugh with the guys at Incline Auto Parts.
Martinez prefers buying parts himself and working on his car over taking his Audi to a mechanic.
“(At Incline Auto Parts) they’ve got good parts and they never give you the wrong one,” he said.
Willard, with a sly smile on his face, disagreed with Martinez. Although Barragan and Gonzalez provide exceptional service, there can be instances when they intentionally don’t, Willard said.
“These guys will give a cute girl the wrong part just so she’ll have to come back,” Todd said with a laugh.
Incline Auto Parts has been located in the Village Center since the end of 2013. The store is a part of Porter Enterprises and the sole Nevada location.
Incline Auto Parts sells Napa automotive and marine parts at the store and delivers to Incline and Kings Beach, seven days a week.
Jenny Luna is a freelance reporter for the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza and Sierra Sun newspapers. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Humor is a really big part of working here. It can be stressful, so to have a laugh here and there really calms you down.”
employee at Incline Auto Parts