story and photos by Nancy Napurski
Some people are born to be artists, doctors, or musicians. Nick LaBorde, a Finger Lakes native, was born to be an auto mechanic.
As a toddler, he played with TONKA trucks and MATCHBOX and Hot Wheels cars, lining them up and making them go. At 6 years old, he helped change the brakes on his Mom’s ’68 Chevy Nova. By the time he attended Honeoye High School, he was a self-professed gear head.
“I just love fixing cars,” Nick admits. “As a kid, I was always dragging some broken thing home: a dirt bike, go-carts, cars, trucks, lawn mowers. If it had wheels, it was a bonus. I tinkered on anything that had an engine. I would fix it then sell it.”
It seems that Nick was also born to be a student. After high school, he started a long career of hard work and education. He enrolled at Monroe Community College where he was on the Dean’s List, and graduated from its automotive training apprenticeship associate-degree program. Nick also took classes with General Motors, and was a Master Technician before he was 20 years old.
“When I went to MCC full time, I was employed at Randall Pontiac part time and worked on Buicks, Cadillacs, and GMC cars and trucks,” Nick says. “I was hired by Nu-Way Auto Parts, too. After I graduated, I worked for Laidlaw Transit on school buses. I moved on to regional transit buses. In my spare time, I still brought home cars and trucks to repair and sell.”
In December 2009, Nick decided to open his own business. He bought a garage on Route 64 in Bristol and named it Nick’s Automotive Repair. Since then, he’s lived and breathed cars all day, every day.
“It was my lifelong ambition to own my own shop,” Nick says. “Cars are my passion, and teaching people how to take care of them motivates me every day.”
Like any good physician, Nick’s diplomas and certificates hang on his waiting room walls. “I take classes all the time. I need to learn all the bells and whistles on the new cars so I can stay on top of automotive trends.”
In the end, he just hopes you’ll take care of your car the way he takes care of your car. Over the years, he’s cultivated a reputation for honesty. With every repair, Nick gives advice on what he sees in your engine, or your tires, or your brakes. He enjoys sharing his knowledge, and wants to help customers keep repair costs down, but he gets frustrated when he sees owners’ foibles reflected in their automobiles.
“I keep telling my customers to change their oil, change their oil, change their oil, and then a guy comes to me with a seized engine,” he relates. “That was because it didn’t have any oil in it! It was the second time it happened! Changing the oil is your car is such an easy thing to keep up with, but some people just can’t seem to do it.
“I don’t feel bad for the guy, I feel bad for the engine,” he adds.
Nick offered some advice for Finger Lakes drivers. “I can tell by one quick look whether a car stays here through the winter or comes from somewhere else. It’s the rust – the combination of snow, salt and calcium chloride that eats everything away. One of the best things you can do is to get a professional undercoating every year. You want one that is lanolin-based, not tar-based, so make sure you ask about that. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars: find someone local who’ll do it for around $150, and it will really make a difference in impeding rust.”
Nick LaBorde was born to be a mechanic, and he was born to learn and share what he knows. He’s lucky to live his passion every day, and we’re lucky to have one of the good ones right here in the Finger Lakes.
“Besides my experience, my reputation is the only thing I’ve got,” he concludes. “I work hard every day to make sure my customers are happy and that they’ll keep coming back.”
Nick’s Auto Repair LLC
4268 Bristol Valley Rd,
Canandaigua, NY 14424
Open – 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.