Two happy people doing what they love, two dogs, and a snake named Stew. What a cool thing, Questa’s previous pizza restaurant transformed into a specialized powersports repair shop with a sterling reputation, right here on the main drag!
“I never wanted to do anything else but open my own shop—I knew this since I was a little kid. And I always loved taking things apart to see how they worked,” the petite Lauren says enthusiastically. Following that dream, Lauren Trujillo has established a business with partner James Newfer that is 100 percent service-based and knowledge-intense, of things you and I might never think about too much; the inner workings of high performance engines.
Late on a Friday afternoon just after a snowstorm, I stopped in to J&L Powersports’ new store and shop. They officially opened their doors in May of last year, but only recently got the marquee sign up. The front door greets me with a reassuring, “Everything off-road done right.” They wo/man the shop every day from sunup to sundown, with only Monday and Sunday off for their own endeavors… but I’m pretty sure they also work on motors in their leisure time at home. When work is play…!
In the front part of the shop, which used to be an open air dining area when the building was Primetime Pizza, products are neatly arranged on shelves. (How serendipitous that the black and white square linoleum fits the motorsports theme!) The strong fragrance of new rubber permeates the air; tires are stacked in artful arrangements and the vibe is spic-n-span clean. I walk on in, pulling open the heavy door, to the service counter. Behind it on the left is a door to the work area. I see a glimpse of a dirt bike on a raised platform, for ease of access. Certifications from various high-end training institutes are posted high on the front wall; you can feel assured these two have the dedication, training, and experience to do their work right.
Lauren greets me and the two other shop hands who figure largely in their uber-fun J&L Facebook posts (look at the fast-frame video of an engine being rebuilt on the bench!): Domino and Bella, peer up from their spots behind the counter. Thick-bearded sparkly-eyed James emerges from the work room, his hands black as soot from taking apart the deep innards of some lucky customer’s engine. Everyone here is eager to please!
Lauren and James, both age 29, had experienced working as diesel mechanics, shop foremen, and other situations where they were the hired hands; and both wanted to have the independence that owning their own shop would afford. When they discussed setting up their own business, Lauren was ready to come back to family roots: her grandfather had moved to Questa in 1979, and her family was here. And so, the business was born and doors opened in 2021. Their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/jlpowersports21) chronicles the days and their obvious enjoyment of what they do in problem-solving your difficult engine problems, preventive maintenance, rebuilding transmissions, engines, and carburetors, changing a tire, installing accessories, providing parts, doing insurance claims, or even just a good deep clean that will have you back on your motorcycle, ATV, dirt bike, side-by-side, or snowmobile in no time!
Word of mouth has gotten them steady work; some folks come from as far as Espanola to get their vehicles in top shape. Lauren says they have not done much advertising. Having a contract with off road vehicle rental places in Red River keeps their plate full, too. I ask them about hiring others or expanding the business, and they are both really happy to say, “Nope, just the two of us keeps things manageable and allows us to maintain the high quality we strive to give our customers. Once you’re supervising others’ work, you depart from the sense of quality control and customer service that we want our business to be all about,” says James, who speaks from the experience of managing six mechanics in three different shops in the north Texas panhandle. “When you have to check on their work in addition to your own, you get mighty busy not doing the work you love.”
Maybe you saw Lauren and James and their elaborate float at the Questa Lights Parade on Dec. 4? Doggies proudly wore red and green hats, while James and Lauren had mile-wide smiles. They are not only a high caliber shop but have invested in being good citizens of Questa who give back to this community.
More about the owners:
Growing up in Red River, the love for the outdoors started early for Lauren. With the Red River Motorcycle Rally every year, Lauren’s passion for motorcycles grew. She dreamed of having her own motorcycle business. Lauren attended Motorcycle Mechanic Institute in Arizona and became a master technician in Harley Davidson and Yamaha motorcycles. She then went on to get her Associates degree in diesel mechanics.
Growing up in Michigan, James was always out exploring, whether on his ATV or in his boat. With his passion for powersports, James attended Motorcycle Mechanic Institute in Arizona for Harley Davidson and Yamaha motorcycles. Like Lauren, James was ready to go out on his own, having worked on just about everything from assembling new machines to full engine and transmission rebuilds and everything in between.
Then there’s Uncle Dave, Lauren’s inspiration since childhood, and last but not least, in his steamy terrarium in the service area, Stew the boa constrictor, nurtured by James since 2015. “Sometimes he gets a cuddle,” says Lauren, but I’m sure glad to see him comfortably basking under the heat light and enclosed in his terrarium.