Local business

Inca Service: Not the end of the road

On April 9, we published a post about the imminent closure of Inca Service, the auto repair shop located at the Chevron station on the corner of Telegraph and Ashby, run by Hugo Cornejo since 1983.

Chevron, which bought the service station from Cornejo six years ago, plans to expand the mini-mart to a “maxi-mart”, which will mean the elimination of the repair shop.

The post provoked two dozen people to write in and share their experience of patronizing Inca Service. With one exception, everyone was extremely happy with the service they received from Cornejo. Support for Cornejo and the style of old-fashioned service he represented was overwhelming. Friendships had been forged and cars well looked-after — sometimes over periods of multiple decades.

Yesterday, Hugo Cornejo himself wrote in to update us on developments. Here is his note:

Hugo here to let you know what is happening with Inca Service and the above written article regarding our operation and its future.

We have been at the present location for the last 27 years and have been servicing the surrounding communities for the last 35 years.

In the course of doing that. I meet the most amazing people like yourself. I have made amazing friends whom I will respect and cherish for the rest of my life.

Because of the economic downturn, my business just like the entire economy of the United States, took a bad turn that we are all paying for now.

We have been trying very hard to make as many cut backs on the expenses of our operation and still be able to provide you with the highest quality of service for your automotive needs at a fair price.

For the last few months I have been working to see if I could accomplish an adjustment on the rent for the present economic times, and so far I have not been able to reach an agreement that would be beneficial for everybody.

Chevron has been a very good company for me to work with. They have been very helpful in accommodating my operation for the benefit of our customers. Just like anybody else, I am sure they need to get the best value for the land they own and rent.

I hope to remain in business for many more years to come in order to service your vehicle needs.

From the bottom of my heart, myself and all my crew. Thank you very much for all your support past, present and future if not fixing your vehicle. I could be leading you on especially catered trips to Peru or South America :) :) :)

I very much appreciate your taking the time to read my note.

Hugo Cornejo
Inca Service

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  • Leila H. Moncharsh

    I have used INCA for at least 20 years iwth great success. My business partner’s father worked his whole career for Chevron and her family owns substantial Chevron stock from the relationship. I own Chevron stock and buy only their products as my parents did before me. Chevron and INCA complement each other. I hope that Chevron will consider adjusting the rent so that our community can keep this service — many have already disappeared. Chevron has always stood by me and I hope the company will help our community. There is more to good business decisions that just looking at the bottom line on a service station. Thanks for considering my comments.

  • J A Rubino

    What else can be said about Hugo and Dave and all the mechanics that work at Inca Cheveron that has not already been said, PROFESSIONAL, SKILLED, EFFICIENT, and HONEST.
    What a loss to the community if they are forced out. In these hard economic times many small business owners who have a proven financial success record deserve a fair market rate to sustain them as our economy regains its balance. Certainly Cheveron, who has posted positive earnings recently, could negotiate a resonable rental profit for one more year and support the community’s need for the quality business that Hugo has created.
    These are the times when large corporations must step up and recognize that short term gain decisions can undermine the long term value of a business.
    It took years of hard work and dedication to build Inca Cheveron, to loose it because of a temporary downturn, severe as it has been, is not a wise investment in future earnings. We will always support Hugo in what ever business venture he chooses to create, because he embodies the best of what independent businesses are.

  • Betsy McReddie

    How unfortunate this is! My husband for years has serviced his truck and other vehicles with Hugo and I brought my car into the dealer. When I finally came out of the ether I had my car serviced here and this was a business that was honest, responsible, practical and took time to explain – in laymen terms – what needed to be done. Hugo and his team have since done thorough inspections on used cars we’ve purchased and we TRUST them. My daughter is driving up from San Diego and is crushed that he might not be here in May to do the annual check-up on her car.
    With that said, we know economic times are tough and corporate bottom lines are being scrutinized. I work with Chevron as an advertising vendor. I see their ads promoting community. Having this type of business, that operates under the Chevron umbrella, promotes a positive image for the company. It’s the best form of advertising there is!
    Chevron: “We are in the energy business… we just don’t work here we live here. These are our families & neighbors and by changing lives we are in more than the energy business we are in the human energy business”. (quote from “Our Business” ad)
    I hope Chevron will support our community by negotiating with Hugo.

  • Marguerite Barron

    I have had my cars serviced and repaired by Inca for years.
    I live in the neighborhood and I started going there simply because I was tired of negotiating rides to the FORD dealer in downtown Oakland.
    I have never regretted the switch.
    I have taken multiple “brands” of cars to Inca and always been happy with the service and work done.
    When I was looking to buy a used car recently, I was secure in saying I wanted to take it to be looked over by “my mechanic”. How many people can say that?

    Berkeley is supposed to be trying to go “Green”.
    This is a neighborhood business! We have already lost our hardware store and body repair shop and the 76 Claremont service station
    For this reason alone, we should urge Chevron to let Inca stay through this tough time.

    We don’t need a convenience store a stone’s throw from Whole Foods, 3 blocks from Andronicco’s and 4 blocks from 7-11!!

  • Robert Mistretta

    My experience having our fleet of commercial delivery vehicles maintained at Inca Service over the past 25+ years has been wonderful!
    I’ve used commercial truck dealers in the past, quickly finding out that customer service is lacking, and repair costs are higher than Inca Service.
    Hugo and his professional staff have always come through for us when needed. I especially appreciate the repair consultations when it comes to maintaining our fleet. Inca Service keeps me updated regarding vehicle condition, allowing me to make the most cost effective repair decision.
    Hugo Conejo and the staff at Inca Service are a Berkeley treasure as they offer what the people want, honest, caring service at a fair price.

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