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Auto mechanic leaves mortgage business for a happier place

BRIAN DUGGAN
bduggan@nevadaappeal.com
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal
NEVADA APPEAL | NEVADA APPEAL

When the housing market went sour, Marcus Marchegger, a former mortgage broker, decided to return to the business where he cut his teeth: automotive repair.

In January, Marchegger and his wife, Lisa, purchased Capitol Automotive, 1000 N. Plaza St., for $60,000 and invested about $40,000 into the nearly 40-year-old repair shop that he said now specializes in automotive diagnostics – the tools that help a car owner determine why an engine light is flashing, for example.

“It was the final leap for us,” Marchegger said. “The mortgage business, it strung us out. This was the biggest financial risk we’ve ever taken in the history of the Marchegger family. And we did it in the most difficult economic time that we’ve ever experienced.”

Since then, after redecorating and repainting the office and cleaning up the garage, Marchegger said business is steady and outpacing expectations.

In fact, Marchegger’s entry into the automotive repair business comes at a time when national experts say more Americans are taking their clunkers to repair shops instead of replacing them with new models. For example, the median age for passenger vehicles increased to a record 9.4 years in 2008, up from 9.2 years, according to research firm R. L. Polk & Co.

The auto repair business also is one that isn’t as depressing as the mortgage business, Marchegger said, who moved with his family to Carson City in 2006.

“Happy people do happy work,” said Marchegger, who employs the three mechanics who worked for the previous owner.

Marchegger, 44, spent the first

10 years of his career working in an auto repair garage in Napa Valley, a job that required him to commute from his family’s Davis, Calif., home every day. In 2000, he joined Neighbors Financial Corp as a mortgage broker at a time when Americans were buying homes at an increasing rate.

In 2006, the family moved to Carson City because Marchegger’s son had to get to a more arid climate because of allergies. He started work as a mortgage broker for the same company, but by 2007 the housing market was collapsing and he found himself in an industry changed.

“People’s loans were just getting denied because the credit crunch was so tight,” he said. “It was just very difficult and all of a sudden I wasn’t in this happy position, I was making a lot of phone calls telling people a lot of bad news.”

But now, Marchegger is back in the garage and is doing what he said attracted him to the mortgage business in the first place, which is helping people.

“People are really appreciative,” he said. “People really love their cars and if they see you’re taking care of them, you get that feeling, too.”