The following essay was written by Ivan Juarez-Reyes, a finalist for the 2018 SuretyBonds.com Small Business Scholarship.
The sun melts my face. I see the sweat dripping from my father’s forehead as he lifts the car with the jack. My dusty hands grasp the air gun. One by one, the lug nuts are removed from the studs. I lift the wheel off the vehicle and roll it to the tire remover. Because the tire is twenty inches in diameter, the process proves to be tedious: I need two tire irons to remove the tire from the rim. My father passes me a new tire, and I install it. I fill the new tire with air and balance the wheel. Once I finish, I install the wheel on the vehicle. “The champion!” my father often exclaimed to me once the lot emptied, mentioning my willingness to help him at our family’s business, an automotive repair and tire shop, whilst excelling in my academic life.
This is just one of the many instances I experience at my family’s business: Central Tire Auto Care. Albeit a small business, on most days, we are busy. Since I was ten, nearly every day during every summer, I woke up at seven in the morning with my father to open the shop. There, I learned about tire sizes, car parts and their functions, oil changes, and the alignment process. The constant exposure to automobiles led me to scrutinize the nuances of the exhaust system. The catalytic converter reduces the amount of toxic chemicals, like nitrogen oxides—I learned this from my father. I then began to notice all the vehicles on the road pass by in front of our shop, and how they all spewed out pollutants. After discovering the environmental impact of transportation in the United States through researching scientific journals and websites like the EPA, a call to action spurred inside me: there must be something I can do to reduce the use of gasoline so that the amount of pollutants in the atmosphere can be reduced. Then, I thought to myself, what better way than to intertwine my passion for the automotive industry with my concerns for the environment?
My father immediately hopped on board, recognizing the importance of balancing humanity’s needs with the health of the environment. On weekends throughout the school year, he introduced me to different functions of a car—this time, in detail. There, I discovered the function of a throttle body, the combustion process of a gasoline-powered engine using spark plugs, and the alignment of tie rods, determining whether they need to be replaced or adjusted. Once, he even asked me to disarm a transmission. Although dismantling the heavy mechanical masterpiece was exhausting, once I did, I was able to gaze in awe of the intricacies and the exactness of everything—from the turbine to the control valve assembly. On some days, after we closed the shop for the day at seven in the evening, the ride home was a lecture. Every ride was something new he wanted me to do.
“Do some research on this piece of technology,” he showed me his phone screen.
“Using water as a fuel source?” I turned my head.
“Yes! Have you heard of Stanley Meyer? Look him up. You have all the information in the world on theInternet! Why don’t you use it?” he smirked and shook his head.
I read about Stanley Meyer and criticism of his water-powered car; one called it “pseudo-science.” In spite of this, I prefer to conduct research on my time—to find the truth firsthand.
“You’re going to be stuck in your lab all day!” my father laughed as he foresaw me as the leader of innovation in automobiles. Suddenly, his expression turned austere. “You need to create something practical, something people will need. You need to invent the car that runs on an alternative fuel. Mark your name on it to leave an everlasting legacy. I know new technologies aren’t released if the market is not ready. You will know when the time comes.”
With this in mind, I had my future planned out: a large white-lit garage, vehicles on lifts, chassis and batteries on racks, and a poster on the wall reflecting my company’s mission: “ELEGANT DYNAMICS.” I plan to be true to this: I have the desire to revolutionize the automotive industry, and my future company will serve to channel this. I will be known for creating environmentally friendly, energy efficient, and affordable technologies for vehicles.
My family connection is at the core of our shop. Since I was ten, my life revolved around our shop: every day after school I helped my father attend to customers, and he worked every day of the year to support our family. His commitment to family and automotive work inspired me to follow in his footsteps, expanding those commitments to communities for an environmentally sustainable society, and connecting those learning experiences to my future efforts in establishing my own world-changing automobile company.