A bonus about spending time with Big Wheels Customs owner Orlando Lopez is getting good ideas about how to run a successful business and have a happy life.
The 34-year-old former Southern Californian, who has also lived in Detroit, co-owns the business with his 36-year-old brother, Jose. And although the two of them are all about family, this auto repair and customization business off Sagamore Parkway is about the customer first and foremost.
“We’re here because of the people, so we want to make sure we do the best job we can,” Lopez said. “I feel like we’re in a perfect town.”
The business does collision repair work such as auto body work, parts replacement and original and custom paint; auto repair such as brake service, tune-ups, radiator flushes and air conditioning repair; exhaust including headers; auto customization such as hydraulics, body kits, HID lighting and billet grills; suspension work such as ball joints, alignments and lift kits; tire and rim repair; and recently added window tinting. The business also sells new and used tires and new and used wheels, which was how they started in 2002.
“Wheels and tires were our main business. We’ve been doing tires since we were 7 or 8 years old. Our family has tires shops in Detroit,” Lopez said. “As we started growing, we had a passion for cars. We started painting cars, lowering cars, lifting cars. I’m saying cars, but I mean everything.”
They were first on South Street in a strip mall where they didn’t quite fit, Lopez said. Now they’re in a building that their former landlord built for them---one that they now own, he said proudly.
“Running a business is very frustrating, but at the end of the day you have to remember the good parts,” he said.
That includes when any of his four children come to the shop and pick up tools or get excited about the place.
“We started on our own cars,” he said of the business’ growth. “As our customer base grew, they started asking us for things that we had on our cars. They said, ‘Make my car look like yours.’”