The Sinclair sign is one of those iconic markers along I-80, a footnote in the scenery that tells people they are through the canyon and approaching Park City. So when Lou Flores and his wife Fia stopped by the automotive shop and gas station off the Summit Park exit and realized the space was for sale, the two decided to buy the property. March, Flores opened the automotive shop, Auto MotorWorks, the couple's first Park City business.
The shop is exactly what one pictures when they imagine a mom-and-pop auto repair shop, the thick smell of oil and the electric whirring of equipment, the hiss of air releasing from the hydraulic car lift.
Before the two moved to Summit Park with their children, they bought their first automotive shop in Salt Lake City. Flores originally studied automotive engineering in New York, where his family was from and where he first found a passion for cars.
"This started as a hobby," Flores said. "I loved cars as a little kid."
"My dad had a lot of old, classic cars he was trying to restore," he added, "but he struggled on the mechanical side, on making the car run right. He didn't have the knowledge. I saw that and I wanted to learn how to (fix cars) so he would be proud of me somehow, someway that's how I ended up going to school for it."
What began as a hobby with his father became a career, from backyard projects fixing up an old Apache Chevy to his bread and butter. But after 10 years in the industry, Flores was ready for a change, a new hometown and a new career.
In 2008, he moved his family to Utah for the schools and to be closer to his wife's family.
"I began to realize I missed cars," Flores said. "I'm good at it; it's my niche."
Starting with a job at a BMW Dealership, Flores re-entered the automotive repair world, eventually buying his own business in Salt Lake City.
After living in Salt Lake City for three years, they enrolled their children into the Weilenmann School of Discovery and moved from the valley into town. It was then that Flores saw the business, a vacant building he could take on that would be close to his family.
"We do everything here, from changing a little light bulb to an engine overhaul, anything the car needs," Flores said.
And sometimes doing everything means putting in long hours, helping stranded motorists. Last week, Flores said he helped a family passing through from California. Both of the family's cars broke down at the same time. They slept in their car for two nights as Flores worked on the car, staying past midnight on the last night so that they could get back on the road.
"It was this family of four moving," Flores said, "and both cars broke down."
"I try to help people who need it," he added. "And this couple, they were so nice and I wanted to help them out. I even offered for them to stay at my house."
The couple bought the automotive shop as well as the gas station and convenience store. Fia often runs store, which is stocked with the standard gas station fare, snacks and coffee and sodas. Flores hopes to build the business, to buy a tow truck at some point for the automotive side and offer more in the convenience store.
"We see a lot of travelers," Flores said. " It's growing little by little, getting there each day."
185 Aspen Drive