Certified mechanic delights in the freedom of running his Port shop
Jim Brooks, owner of the newly opened Jimmy B’s Auto and Light Truck Service in Port Washington, has a simple philosophy for running his business.
“I want all of my customers to feel like a family member is working on their vehicle,” Brooks said.
That desire to build strong customer relationships played a big part in his decision to open the auto repair shop at 107 S. Milwaukee St.
The business opened May 1.
Brooks, an ASE-certified mechanic, had worked in the repair shop at Tires Unlimited in Port Washington since 1999.
“I was happy working there, but I am a sociable person and I enjoy being around people,” he said.
“I am 45 years old, and if I am ever going to try going out on my own, it is now. I am planning on being here for a long time, but if it doesn’t work out, I know I will always be able to find work as a mechanic.”
Brooks purchased the equipment formerly used at Mugsy Auto Service and also took over the lease.
He then devoted a considerable amount of time updating the shop and adding an array of state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment.
Although Brooks is adept at using the latest testing devices, he has an old-school love of all things automotive.
When he was younger, he started modifying cars to enhance their performance and saw considerable success racing them, including winning a season championship at the 141 Speedway in Maribel.
“You had to build cars that were better than what you drive on the streets because they had to last 300 laps,” Brooks said.
He said his love for speed was tempered when he came face to face with his own mortality during a race in 2007.
Brooks saw a competitor’s car spin out and flip completely over the roof of his own car, landing 10 feet in front of him.
His wife looked on in horror from the stands.
“It was at that point I decided I didn’t have it in me to race any more. I cared too much about my family,” Brooks said.
Not coincidentally, his son was born that same year.
Brooks still loves working on cars, but has also found great pleasure fishing on Lake Michigan.
He got involved with the Great Lakes Sport Fishermen in 2010, skippering the “Boat of the Year” in 2013 — a recognition for landing the largest collective fish in the five sport species sought on Lake Michigan.
“I didn’t reel in too many fish, but I always enjoy watching other people catch them,” Brooks said.
“Some of the nicest people I know, I’ve met working on their cars or fishing.”
Brooks said the most appealing part of being an auto mechanic is helping people solve difficult repair challenges.
“It is satisfying to diagnose a problem and repair it, but it is the basic work — changing oil, selling tires and adjusting brakes — that pays the bills,” he said.
“I am not here to get rich. What I really appreciate in having my own shop is being able spend the time to make sure a job is done right.”
Photo Credit: JIM BROOKS GETS to combine his love of cars and people at his new business, Jimmy B’s Auto & Truck Service. At right, Brooks worked on a Ford Mustang engine block at his Port Washington shop. Photo by Sam Arendt