Hammonton’s newest auto shop is open for business.
Harbor Auto Repair II, located at 61 12th St., is the second of two locations for the company; the first is located in Egg Harbor City.
Owner Mayco “Mike” Martinez said that the first location opened seven years ago.
“We had a business partner, and he decided to move on. I took the place, and it’s me and my brother, Gerardo. We started working together and started building up clientele. We do regular mechanic work, maintenance, oil changes and stuff like that,” Martinez said.
Martinez was born in the south of Mexico, and came to the United States in 1999 when he was 12 years old, attending school in Atlantic City.
Martinez said that he got his start in auto mechanics through his step-father, a mechanic.
“He would always say to me, ‘Why don’t you come help out and learn something?’ I wasn’t really interested, but one day I said, ‘Let me see what you do.’ I liked it—moving cars, taking parts out—and that’s how I got involved,” Martinez said.
Eventually, Martinez’s mother and step-father moved to Florida.
“He asked if I wanted to move with him so we could start something together and I could learn more. I moved there and started working with him. We used to do a mobile mechanic type of thing, and he started getting a lot of customers. That’s when he opened his shop. I was helping him out for a while, then left to work for Firestone. There, I was the tire guy. I moved up a little bit and started doing other things like alignments. Then, I wanted to learn how to weld so I went to Midas,” Martinez said.
A trip to visit one of his sisters who still lived in New Jersey put Martinez on the path to where he is now.
“That’s when I met my wife,” Martinez said.
Now, he and his wife, Maite Peña, have two children—Ozeil, 13, and Paris, 1—and live in Egg Harbor City.
When looking for a place to open a second location, Martinez said that Hammonton was a natural choice.
“I always wanted to come here. The area, the people around here are pretty friendly. They’re nice. They help. Joe, the guy across the street, he didn’t even know me and he offered me his help. I was really surprised; he helped me put my equipment over here. I don’t know him like that. Other people came here and welcomed us Hammonton. It’s a good place; I like the town. They treat you good here,” Martinez said.
Since Harbor Auto Repair II opened in October, Martinez said that business has been good and his customers have been satisfied.
“I try to keep my customers happy. I have to get their cars done, because they’ve got a life, too ... I like my customers, and I treat them well. I try to work with them. If I can help with whatever I can, I will. In my other place, I have a lot of long-time customers. I try to build relationships with them,” Martinez said.
Harbor Auto Repair II, Martinez said, works on most cars, foreign and domestic.
“There are some concerns when it comes to German cars, but you don’t see that many around here because they’ll usually go to dealerships ... We do engines, transmission swaps, alignments, tires, breaks, catalytic converters and things like that,” Martinez said.
Martinez noted that his business has the potential to expand, but he is quite happy with his location on 12th Street—and with all that Hammonton has to offer, particularly the sense of community among residents and business owners.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’m here. I’m willing to stay here for a long time ... I definitely want to be a part of the community. I want to help wherever I can; this is a good place. One guy said to me, ‘We only use local businesses. We support each other.’ That’s good. That’s how you keep a town going,” Martinez said.
For more information, call (609) 878-3524.