When they decided to get into the auto repair business together, one of the first things Doug Jones Jr. and Alex Young had to decide was what they should call their garage on Main Street in the City of Niagara Falls.
Young suggested they borrow from a popular song by the rock band AC/DC and “Thunder Struck Auto Repair” was born.
“We were going through names and Alex said, ‘What about thunder struck? I kind of thought about it and I said, ‘Yeah, I like that’ and that’s what it turned out to be,” Jones recalled.
On March 1, Jones and Young will celebrate their first full year of business together at the Falls auto repair shop, located at the former Steve’s Automotive location at 2665 Main St.
Jones and Young met while Young was working as a mechanic at another repair shop on Grand Island. At the time, Jones was running a tool truck that frequently delivered items to the Grand Island location. The two started talking and realized they had a lot in common, especially when it came to a mutual interest in fixing broken-down vehicles.
“Alex and I actually developed a really good relationship during the time when I ran the tool truck,” Jones said. “We did a lot of talking together and found out that we were actually very compatible and decided, ‘Hey, let’s do this.’”
Jones, 52, was born in the Falls and spent most of his life in Niagara County.
Young, 35, is from Denton, Arkansas. He said he moved to the Falls in 2017 to be closer to family members who were already living in Canada.
Before going into business with Young, Jones worked for 13 years at Washington Mills.
He said he always wanted to own his own business and when the opportunity arose, he jumped at the chance.
“It was just about the challenge, trying to make it work, trying to compete and being my own boss. I love being my own boss,” he said.
Young, who is certified as an automotive technician from Hot Springs Community College in Arkansa, has been working as a professional mechanic for 15 years. He said he took an interest in small engine repair at a young age and enjoys working on larger repair jobs now.
“The day I get to do big engine work, that’s my favorite day,” he said. “To see that car leaving and knowing that I’m the reason that car is on the road and reliable once again makes me feel good. That’s the highlight of my day and my week when I make that happen.”
Young said he also loves working on older-model vehicles.
“My favorite thing to do is work on older vehicles,” he said. “I just love it. I love taking something old and resurrecting it, bringing it back from the dead.”
Jones admits there have been ups and downs since opening the business, adding that it can be challenging competing with other quality repair shops in the area.
Jones and Young hope to keep customers coming back and to continue to grow their business by simply providing top-quality service.
“You bring something in and it’s not running and you don’t know why,” Jones said. “(We) find out why and it leaves running.”
Both Jones and Young said the job has become more complicated and even at times more frustration with newer models and new automotive technology.
“Automobile engineers are not very nice to the mechanics, let’s put it that way,” Jones said. “Here’s an eight-inch bolt, but you’ve got to get it out of a 2-inch area. Some of these cars nowadays you actually have to take the top end of the engine off to change the spark plugs.”
Young said his priority on every repair job is safety.
“I’m all about safety,” he said. “If it’s not safe, you’re going to know about it and hopefully we can come to an agreement to get it fixed.”
In the Falls, long known for its less-than-pristine streets, Jones added, half-jokingly: “We make vehicles safe for roads that are not.”
The owners of Thunder Struck offer interval vehicle maintenance checks, roadside assistance, including fuel delivery for times when motorists run out of gas and “jumps” for days when the battery dies or there is an electrical problem. Jones said they are planning to acquire a tow truck or a flat bed by May so Thunder Struck will also be able to offer expanded towing services as well.
In addition, the repair shop offers discounts to “front-line workers,” including first responders, military personnel, nurses and other health care practitioners.
“They are front-line workers and they deserve it,” Young said.
“They deserve anything they can get,” Jones added.
Thunder Struck Auto Repair is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 716-282-4661.