Rodrigo and Juan of the WRXperts turn adversity into opportunity.
Story & Photos | Phillip Pratt
There’s an old saying about ‘opportunity’, well there are several dozen, but two stick out the most to me; the first being “When Opportunity knocks, you’d better answer it” and the next “Opportunity knocks but once”. While I unequivocally agree with the first, the second isn’t always true. Sometimes opportunity doesn’t just show up once and then walk away. Like a Jehovah Witness on a Saturday, it can be persistent and either bang on the door until someone answers, or just keep coming back. Both of these proverbs describe the journey of South Florida’s WRXperts, Subaru Specialists, to the proverbial “tee”.
Individually, the two halves of the WRXperts, Rodrigo Ruiz, and Juan Cardentey, were already accomplished mechanics before they decided to work together. It wasn’t until Rodrigo needed a job done, using a particular set of tools he didn’t possess, did the two meet through a mutual acquaintance. After the work was completed, Juan and Rod found themselves continuously running into each other on the street. Turned out they lived within just five minutes of each other. After fate pushed them together on several occasions, they finally exchanged numbers at a local supermarket, of all places. A little while later, Rod injured his hand and was unable to complete a job he’d begun. During a couple of all-nighters, Rod and Juan decided to join forces and pool their talents to create what would later be called WRXperts… I say “later” because for the briefest of moments they were going by the hilarious moniker “FAH Q Motorsports”, a holdover from Rodrigo’s solo days.
After being a mostly mobile service, and when necessary doing work out of Rod’s Pembroke Pines home (which was becoming a hassle with HOA and the City applying pressure for them to “cease and desist”), in late 2013 the two were able to secure a space in a body shop in Miami called Perfection Paint & Body. “We were busy. Every day of the week, and then the weekends. It got so busy I ended up quitting my job of fifteen years” Juan recalled, “We needed somewhere to wrench”. The workload was consistent enough that Rod too left his employment. Eventually, they even brought on other mechanics, JC and then Andy. With just enough space to squeeze in two lifts and their tools, they made it work for over four years. A tribute to their reliable and fast work, the WRXperts built-up a steady clientele, despite not being in the most convenient of locations. The best route to their shop was via a multi-lane, perpetually under-construction highway named the “Palmetto”. A notoriously slow-moving route during the day, aka business hours. “We’d get photos sent to us from customers stuck in traffic, but they’d still make the trip, and we’re grateful for the loyalty.”
For those not familiar with the layout of South Florida; the area the WRXperts relocated to after leaving Rod’s house in Pembroke Pines is roughly twenty-three miles South, in the heart of Miami. Twenty-three miles may not seem like a big deal, but once morning traffic kicks in, a customer could easily be in for a forty-five minute to an hour of driving, and then some! And that’s assuming they were coming from the South Broward area. There are customers that routinely made the trip from as far north as West Palm Beach. Now that’s loyalty.
Even with a steady stream of Subies coming in and a rock-solid rep, the WRXperts were bound to hit some tumultuous weather. The owner of the shop they occupied sold the building to a land developer who had plans to level it. With only nine-days’ notice, they had to move out whilst in the middle of projects ranging from oil changes to full engine builds. “Even with offering mobile services and finishing builds at customer residences, we lost a lot of business in the transition…” Rod lamented “probably around four to five [thousand dollars] of work.”
After searching many of the industrial areas of South Florida from Bird Road all the way up to Opalocka, Juan finally came across an online listing for a shop in West Park, a city just north of Miami-Dade County. He was unfamiliar with the area despite the fact it neighbored his city of residence, Miramar “I didn’t know where the hell West Park was! I never heard of it” Juan remarked with a laugh “It was right off Miramar Pkwy and 441! I was like, ‘sweet, its close by!’” Sweet indeed. The shop is in between all the major highways, a few blocks South of a Subaru dealer, and even has an auto parts store immediately next door.
Opportunity didn’t just knock on these guy’s door; it kicked it down and ground its muddy platforms on their white couch. With help from friend/customer/Realtor, Michael Liming, the guys jumped on it and struck a deal. With more room than they ever thought they’d have, the WRXperts have five lifts at their disposal with space to spare, including a room dedicated exclusively to engine builds and get this… a waiting room. With chairs! Only loyal customers will under the ramifications of that. With a new centrally located, larger space and a base of faithful customers at their backs, there is only room to grow for the guys. As far as their relationship with good old opportunity, well, I doubt that this will be the last visit.
Address: 5642 SW 25th Street, West Park, FL 33023