20-Year-Old Opens NextGen Auto Shop To Keep Ohio Community On The Road -

20-Year-Old Opens NextGen Auto Shop To Keep Ohio Community On The Road

Mercedes Czerepak knew exactly what she wanted to do at a very young age: work on cars.

At just 20 years old, Mercedes Czerepak opened her own shop in Dover, Ohio, to pursue her passion and help her community. Photo by Carley Millhone | Tomorrow’s Tech.

Name: NextGeneration Automotive Service & Repair

Location: Dover, Ohio

Owner: Mercedes Czerepak 

Number of Employees: 2 – Mercedes and her father, John, who is also an ASE-certified technician

Number of Bays: 2

Repairs: Brakes, steering and suspension, electrical, alignments, computer diagnostics, cooling systems, exhaust, safety inspections, oil changes, timing belts, tires, water pumps, heater cores.

Mercedes Czerepak knew exactly what she wanted to do at a very young age: work on cars.

Mercedes always had a love for vehicles. As a little girl, she’d run to the nearest window to catch a glimpse of the passing motorcycles. Growing up she’d always be with her father, John, repairing the family vehicles.  

“I always helped him work on cars because we were a lower income family who couldn’t necessarily go out and get our car taken care of, so it was a lot of us working on our own vehicles,” says Mercedes. “From there, I just started really getting into it and really enjoying it.”

NextGen Auto operates out of a two-bay garage with an attached office. Although the operations are small, Mercedes has big goals. Photo by Carley Millhone | Tomorrow’s Tech.

In high school, she attended the local Buckeye Career Center to get an early start to her automotive technology education. She then finished an associate degree at Stark State College. For more experience, Mercedes apprenticed at RPM Restoration in Canton, Ohio.

Upon graduation, Mercedes had the skills and the education to get to work, but finding a job proved difficult.

“I had been denied at so many different places that I just got tired of it, and I was like, ‘Fine, I’m going to take my expertise and do this myself.’”

Mercedes and John’s certificates are displayed in the lobby with additional service information and a coffee bar. Photo by Carley Millhone | Tomorrow’s Tech.

What was supposed to be a five-year plan to start a business, fast-forwarded to less than a year when the perfect, affordable location became available. After six weeks of remodeling the two-bay garage and office area, NextGen Automotive Service & Repair opened its doors on June 1, 2018. Mercedes was only 20 years old.

At first, business consisted mostly of friends, and for months business was pretty slow. But, as word got out in the community of Mercedes’ business venture and her work, the cars started rolling in.

What really sets NextGen apart is its commitment to service. While businesses often tout having a fancy waiting area and a huge, clean shop, Mercedes and John keep it simple, making the most of what they have. Getting the work done right, at an affordable price, while being 100% transparent with their customers on the repairs, is the top priority.

“We were looking at everyone else’s garage and we wanted to make sure we stuck out,” explains Mercedes. “We tried to make this as affordable and as friendly as possible for working families because we know how hard it is to make a buck. We try to be as competitive as possible while putting affordable, but good, parts on the vehicles. 

Shop dog Chloe often greets customers in the office and has her own dog bed under Mercedes’ desk. Photo by Carley Millhone | Tomorrow’s Tech.

Trusted brands with a strong reputation in the market are a staple for the business, and with a $55 labor rate the shop’s parts pricing is not too far off from what the parts stores offer. Mercedes and John make sure the customer always knows what’s going on their car and what went wrong in the first place. They also offer extensive warranties and there is plenty of information at the shop about return policies and core charges.

“They don’t walk out of here not understanding what they just spent money on…If we can’t show them what’s wrong; we take pictures, we show them old parts. We make sure that they understand,” explains Mercedes.

At the end of the day, making sure NextGen’s services are affordable for working families and seeing them drive off in a repaired vehicle is what makes it all worth it for Mercedes.

“It’s just my passion,” says Mercedes.

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