Joseph F. Berenato
Customers first at O&E Auto Sales
When Elizabeth Diaz moved to Hammonton 18 years ago, she had no idea what the future held for her. It was here that she met her future husband, Omar Flores—a transplant from Massachusetts—who loves cars.
“He’s always loved working on cars. He started working at EL&M Auto Recycling in 2008, and he always wanted to have his own business related to cars,” Diaz said.
Diaz said that Flores originally thought about opening a garage to repair vehicles.
“That’s his passion. He has a little shop at home where he fixes all the cars. Before, he would always buy cars, then fix the cars and resell them. He got the idea, in the future, to open a dealership, and a year ago he said he was going to do it. He decided to go for it,” Diaz said.
The fruit of that ambition was O&E Auto Sales, which opened in February of 2020.
“Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, we were only opened for a month and then we had to close in March and April. We were so lucky and so blessed, because even though COVID-19 is everywhere and is impacting businesses, we’ve been doing so well,” Diaz said.
Diaz said that, since restrictions eased and the dealership was able to reopen, business has been very good for O&E Auto Sales.
“We’ve already sold all of our inventory once; we opened with 25 cars and we sold them all. People thought that we were closed because of COVID-19, but it was because we sold all our inventory, and the auto auction was closed so there was no way for us to get more cars. Now, we’re back in business,” Diaz said.
Diaz said that Flores personally attends to the needs of each vehicle.
“Omar is working so hard. He’s working seven days a week, nonstop. Sometimes, I go to sleep and he’s still working in his garage until 11 p.m. or 1 a.m. I’m so proud of him,” she said.
Christina Glen—who assists with financing at O&E Auto Sales—explained further.
“He won’t bring a car over unless it’s fixed first. He makes sure. He does anything it needs: he redoes the brakes, and oil changes and details it, then he’ll bring it over. If it needs any work at all, he’ll do it before it comes here,” Glen said.
Diaz said that Flores endeavors to take care of each customer.
“Now, we have warranties that we offer to the customer—30, 60, 90 days—but before, when we didn’t have any guarantees, if the customer came back and thought something was wrong, Omar always took care of them. We have very good reviews from our customers ... More importantly, we want customers to trust O&E Auto Sales. We want to be different from everybody. Customers aren’t buying a new car, they’re buying used cars—we have customers that take cars for one or two days to make sure it’s what they want. They can take the car to a mechanic that they choose to check out the car,” Diaz said.
Diaz said that the interior of the vehicle is equally as important as its mechanical workings.
“One of Omar’s first things is, even when you buy a used car, if you buy a car you want to feel like you’re buying something new. He’s so particular to have it clean. That’s the first thing for a customer: when you open the door, you want to see a clean car, and you want to make sure that it smells clean,” she said.
Diaz said that, in addition to the work at O&E Auto Sales, both she and Flores continue to work full-time at their other professions.
“He’s keeping his job at EL & M, and I work as a medical assistant. I’m still doing that; in the future, I see myself working here full-time, same as him,” she said.
Their hopes for the future of the dealership remain high.
“We hope that this business grows ... We hope to be very successful here. We were afraid, because we opened and everything closed. You want your dreams to come true. We want to have 30 or 40 vehicles at a time. We hope, five years from now, to own our own building,” Diaz said.
With the help of the local community, Diaz is confident that the dealership is here to stay, noting that more than 50 percent of their customers are from Hammonton.
“We have been so happy with the Hammonton community,” Diaz said.
O&E Auto Sales is located at 1198 S. White Horse Pike. They are open Tuesdays through Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. They are closed Sundays and Mondays.
For more information, call (609) 878-3830 or visit hammontonautosales.com.