Nevada Interrupted: Reno auto shop adjusts during a time of uncertainty

Workers throughout the state are facing layoffs and financial uncertainties as businesses begin to close their doors to reduce and prevent the proliferation of COVID-19, per Gov. Steve Sisolak’s guidance to close all ‘non-essential’ businesses for the next 30 days.

As businesses and individuals navigate an uncertain future, they are getting creative — a Reno distillery is using its alcohol to make hand sanitizer and a coffee shop created a social media campaign they called “#localdollars.” Some restaurants are decreasing hours, but promising to feed employees.

The Nevada Independent will be sharing one of their stories each day. If you are a Nevada business owner or worker whose job has been upended by coronavirus, we’d love to feature your story. Send an email to ideas@thenvindy.com for consideration. 

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When Vinnie Lucido heard about COVID-19, he said he sat down with his brother and co-owner of the CoAuto automobile shop in Reno and created an emergency plan that included establishing new protocols to disinfect and clean cars and evaluating places to make financial cutbacks.

“Seeing what’s happening around the global community, we knew that it was coming to America and that we were going to have to make some shifts and some changes and we wanted to be ahead of the curve,” he said. “Because if you don’t prepare, then it’s going to hit you a lot harder than it would if you’ve made some adjustments as this thing gets worse.”

Lucido described how he and his brother designed a “contact-free” car repair experience that includes over-the-phone consultation, car pickup and return as well as strict disinfectant policies. He has been having staff meetings and keeping staff informed on changes, but there are many unknowns.

“I had a morning meeting and said, we’re going to be doing this day to day and maybe it’s even four hours to four hours, every four hours. We’re going to have to re-evaluate where we’re at,” he said. 

To break even and keep their doors open, CoAuto depends on working on at least 50 cars a week. Lucido said a loss of car counts affects finances and operations and because of recent cancelations, he has already had to let go of three employees out of a team of 10.

“With the layoffs, I’ve advised them that it’s ideally temporary, maybe up to a couple months,” he said. “Hopefully once we start seeing the car count and the services being approved that we’re used to, then we can reinstate those employees. And 100 percent, I will re-hire those people back.

In the long term, Lucido hopes to “keep the lights on” and eventually rehire all the staff as well as get back to standard operations, but he is not sure what will happen.

“I’m not fearful of the flu itself, but the economy,” he said. “I’m fearful just because there’s a big backlash that’s going to happen. And a lot of people live paycheck to paycheck … We have enough homeless as it is, and now we’ve got people with no job. And if you can’t make your rent one week or another, then it’s going to get very difficult.”

Lucido said people keeping their appointments at local businesses will make all the difference — even if it is just following through on an oil change.

“Just continue to support local businesses, because now they need you more than ever,” he said.