Chivalry Is Not Dead

March 1, 2018

By Catherine Jozwik

Eli Corona, owner of The Family Mechanic auto service shop, 1122 E. Holt Avenue in Bay View. —Photo Jennifer Kresse

The Family Mechanic’s kindness a balm for car break-in misery

The recent Bay View auto vandalism epidemic has many neighbors concerned. More than a few residents have awakened to find their car windows had been smashed overnight.

Elijah Corona, owner of The Family Mechanic, 1122 E. Holt Avenue, has been helping vehicle owners affected by this crime for several years. He replaces auto glass for customers in the Bay View area at cost, often saving them hundreds of dollars.

Corona, who grew up on Milwaukee’s north side, said his family didn’t have much money.

His father advised him to pick a trade, so he decided to become an auto mechanic. At age 13, Corona began working for Mr. P’s Tires at the business’s north side location as a cleaner. From 2010-2015 he worked as a technical trainer for Bridgestone, an auto parts manufacturing company.

“I worked for Bridgestone Retail Operations. “The training I did was focused on career development, quality control, (and) safety training. My territory was Wisconsin and Northern Illinois,” Corona said.

Encouraged by his wife, Brooke Corona, he opened The Family Mechanic in 2014, while still employed at Bridgestone. “(Brooke) said I should follow my dreams and I did,” Corona said. “I kind of had dual roles for about a year.”

He hired employees to run the shop, 2151 S. 1st Street, in rented space. The shop moved to its present Holt Avenue location in 2016, when his and adjacent buildings were scheduled for demolition to make way for the construction of Restaurant Depot.

Shortly after he opened the auto shop, Corona’s and several of his neighbors’ vehicles were broken into and their windows smashed. Knowing that he was a mechanic, people asked him if he replaced glass.

“I said, yes, at cost. Then the word spread. I never thought we’d be replacing that many windows. We did about 77 in three days.” Corona said. “My glass supplier loves me.”

To keep up with the influx of business, he hired two new technicians.

The average price for a piece of glass ranges from $75-$110. Laminated glass is more durable and runs about $150 per piece.

Recently some Bay View residents have come to The Family Mechanic with all four of their car windows broken.

“Most people in Bay View leave their doors unlocked and don’t leave anything in the car. Vandals here are breaking windows just to break windows,” said Corona. “It’s like a game to them.”

He noted that car vandalism is not confined to Bay View. The shop replaces glass for customers who live in the Third Ward, Walker’s Point, and on Brady Street.

Corona and his technicians repaired windows on 17 cars February 13 and three more the following day. “We have seen a crazy increase in repairs [in 2018], he said.”

Bay View Neighborhood Association president Patty Pritchard Thompson presented Eli Corona with a thank you gift for his generous service to the many unfortunate residents of the 53207 zip code area who have been victims of car vandalism. Corona replaces their broken auto glass at cost. —Photo Katherine Keller

He recommends that car owners buy an alarm system with a very loud alarm in order to deter criminals.

Building strong relationships with customers, and with the Bay View community, are priorities for Corona, who said he would like to get involved in events such as Chill on the Hill and with neighborhood associations.

Corona is still replacing broken car windows at cost for those who live in the 53207 zip code area. He said his glass partner, Paustian’s Auto Glass, is also offering its services at a discounted rate because of the sheer volume of glass replacement in the Bay View neighborhood.

Corona said he doesn’t do what he does for publicity. He does it because it feels good to help.

He will provide the service as long as he has sufficient staff to do so.

At some point, Brooke Corona plans to leave her corporate job to help her husband with the shop, stepping into the position of both office and finance manager.

In addition to his auto services, Corona owns a fleet of plow trucks and he is happy to clear streets and alleys of snow for his neighbors, especially veterans and those who are disabled. He said while he doesn’t charge the majority of those he helps with his plowing service, some people insist on paying him.

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One Comment on "Chivalry Is Not Dead"

  1. Marla Schmidt on Thu, 1st Mar 2018 11:11 am 

    And THIS is why local businesses are so awesome! Thank you!

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