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Seiko Nagata

Episode 058

Auto Education & Service

Seiko has been the owner of Seiko’s Auto Service Inc in Monrovia, CA, since January 2014. The shop provides exceptional customer service and high-quality automotive service and repairs for Toyota, Lexus, Subaru, Honda, and Acura vehicles.

Seiko is an SGV native and was born and raised in Monterey Park. He attended El Repetto K-8 and Mark Keppel High School.

He considers himself lucky to have attended Mark Keppel, which still had automotive technology available as a class.

This is where his passion for automobiles was ignited. Since then, he has worked at multiple locations as an automobile technician. After two years, he was able to train in Iwate, Japan.

Since becoming a business owner, Seiko has realized that not only growing the business is essential but also the next generation.

The company has sponsored local middle and high school Robotics teams and is open to training and growing future automotive technicians. 

Phone: 626-359-0589

Address: 804 E Huntington Dr. Ste A Monrovia CA 91016


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Seiko Nagata Takeaways

  • Seiko was born and raised in Monterey Park
  • His family immigrated from Japan.
  • Seiko studied auto mechanics in high school and then got an apprenticeship after school.
  • Seiko lived in Japan for several years and continued to learn and work in the auto industry.
  • Seiko has two daughters.
  • Seiko opened his auto repair shop in Monrovia.
  • Russell and Scott bring on someone who owns their auto shop in the San Gabriel Valley. They are entrenched in the neighborhood’s culture and need to have a business that is doing well. The SGV Mastery Key Podcast is proud to talk to Seiko Nagata.
  • “Tackling the root cause is challenging and rewarding.”
  • “I was an automotive technician turned into a business owner.”

What is your connection to the San Gabriel Valley?

Seiko was born and raised in Monterey Park, went to the same high school as Russell, and was even there at the same time, unbeknownst to Russell. The two even discovered that Russell knew Seiko’s brother.

Seiko is a second-generation immigrant; his parents came from Japan. He was raised at home in a very Japanese culture and even went to a Japanese Saturday school.

He married a girl from Japan, so his langue at home is still primarily Japanese.

What were your experiences growing up in the San Gabriel Valley?

Seiko knew a lot of families with the background, and they would all hang out together. They would go out together to sporting events and enjoy each other company.

However, over time, these families divided. Some moved to close cities, but some moved across the country to the east coast. And with that, Seiko found different friends from different cultures.

He found that Monterey Park was more Asian-dominated, and he felt the influence of it. However, he interacted with people from all cultures when he opened his business.

Where did you start your journey as a mechanic and business owner?

Seiko was admitted as not the best at school and needed to raise his grades, so he took the elective mechanic class because he thought it was a fast way to get an A.

He originally wanted to be an architect.

However, he found he enjoyed auto. It did the opposite of what he wanted. It hurt him because he would skip other classes to stay in the auto shop.

What did you do after high school?

Seiko had an opportunity to work in an auto shop through a connection with his father. He did an apprenticeship there for about six months, then started as an official trainee at that shop.

He worked and learned so fast in an honest mechanic shop. He realized that he didn’t know that much after high school and was humbled by his master mechanic.

In 2004-2006, Seiko and his girlfriend at the time, his wife moved to Japan. They worked and lived there for two years. He continued working as a mechanic there.

He moved back to the U.S. because he had a chance to get his shop. Unfortunately, that shop didn’t work out, and he had to start from scratch again.

When Seiko worked in Japan, he followed the culture’s customs, including wearing a suit to work every day, participating in daily meetings, and working late hours.

However, despite Seiko’s heritage and formal Japanese language training, he was still considered a foreigner to the Japanese people.

He could even feel the discomfort at his presence in Japan occasionally.

What did you bring?

Seiko brought two tags his daughters drew for him that he always keeps in his backpack.

They were the reason he started his shop to begin with. He wanted that freedom of working for himself and was tired of people holding promises over his head.

How was owning your own business going?

It was scary initially for Seiko, but he knew it was worth trying to branch out. He quit his job and gave himself 100% of his time to figure out how to work for himself. He found an empty shop and built it up from scratch.

He did get help early on from the business end. He got help from a class and a peer group and learned a lot. The city was also helpful with his chamber of commerce.

The only thing that helped him was interacting with his community. Networking got him through his first year. Seiko still does a lot of auto networking and works with the Chamber of Commerce.

What do you love right now?

Seiko loves helping his clients. Teaching the problems and ensuring his clients understand what is happening with their cars.

Russell has been on the receiving end of the educational aspect of Seiko’s mechanical knowledge. He shows the part that fails and explains why it happened. He also is a fan of the actual work of the cars. He likes solving problems.

What should people be aware of? What are the red flags?

Number one is if communication is not there. If they don’t get in touch, that is a problem.

Number two, if you take your vehicle, for one thing, they also need to check the whole thing and not just that one part.

There may be more pressing issues than the issue you brought it in for.

What about upselling?

Not Seiko’s shop. They just try to ensure you have the correct information for an informed decision. If you are being upsold for no read, that’s a red flag.

Picture of Seiko Nagata

Seiko Nagata

Old Town Monrovia because there are so many restaurants and great places to explore

The gym at the Santa Anita YMCA in Monrovia

Monterey Park Dim Sum, and his favorite is the Embassy and Tasty Garden.