For over twenty years, Pat Castagnetto has helped run Jim’s Paint & Body Shop with her titular husband. Located off of Highway 60, the family-owned body shop can assist both local customers as well as those passing through.
Question: What is your connection to this business?
Answer: Jim is my husband, so I mainly run the books and do things like work with insurance companies as well as research and order all of the parts. That sort of stuff. The only thing I don’t do is go into the shop and do hands-on work.
Q: What are the various types of services that your shop provides?
A: Collision, paint and body repair, replacing parts. A variety of things.
Q: Around how many clients do you see in a given week?
A: That goes up and down throughout the years. It has been slow for us recently, and then there are times when we are very busy. You have to expect it to fluctuate all the time. When it gets busy we’ll bring in extra hands, but they know that this is not a permanent place of employment.
Q: Can you take in vehicles of all kinds?
A: We welcome anyone. A job’s a job. Sometimes with the more advanced computerized cars we’ll recommend that they take it to a dealer. But we try to fix whatever possible within our capabilities.
Q: When and why did you decide to open up this body shop?
A: Because we did it in California for several years before coming to Socorro.
Q: How did you and your husband meet?
A: In school years ago. We were both going to Potter Valley high school, a smaller town in the Northern part of California. It was one of those high school things that has stuck throughout both of our lives. I met him after moving with my family from Auburn, California to Potter Valley.
Q: What was your path after high school? Did you pursue college?
A: No, we got married right out of high school and started a family. We have three boys, Jimmy, Chris, and Damon, who were all born in California but live here now. I worked at different jobs such as a cashier, nurses’ aide, and for the census. In 1981 we opened up a shop in Potter Valley similar to this one here called Valley Auto Repair that we ran until we moved.
Q: Have you both always been into cars?
A: Myself, not really. He was and still is, but it’s not my passion, which is why I do the books.
Q: What was it like to open up your own private business back in 1981?
A: It was ok. There were good times and bad times as I’m sure any shop has to go through.
Q: You had a body shop in California. How did you end up here in Socorro?
A: That’s a good question (pause). We wanted a change and felt like we needed to get out of California. I don’t know why. There is no one reason. Somehow we ended up here. We checked into different places for about a year and first looked at Silver City. One day we got off of I-25 and looked around Socorro in 1994 and have been here ever since.
Q: What was the initial experience of moving here like?
A: Terrifying. I felt totally out of place. We didn’t know anybody. It took about four years before we could settle in and establish roots in Socorro. I regretted moving here many times and would be depressed early on. Add in missing the green atmosphere with mountains and grass from back home it was totally different here being more of a desert. Then you have to meet the right friends for us, or for yourself, I should say, that takes time. Which eventually we did.
Q: How long was it before you opened this business here?
A: About five years. It was Jim’s plan because working on cars has always been his passion, so there wasn’t any other option but to open a body shop.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge repair wise for the shop over the years?
A: Probably that big hail storm we had a few years back. That was a lot of work. We had a few vehicles that were simply totaled out.
Q: Having been around vehicles for most of your life, what is your favorite car?
A: The Pontiac Firebird. I’ve got a 96 sitting out front now. For some reason, that style of car always attracted me.
Q: Were you raised as a car person?
A: No, it wasn’t until I met Jim. My dad Beau Crandell worked in a sawmill, so I grew up in a mill yard. I liked it because the people were nice. I’ve always been around a hands-on type of environment.
Q: A few random questions, what is your favorite movie?
A: Gosh, I have so many. I’m one of those when they come on TV, I watch them over and over people. I guess “The Edge” with Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin. They are both such good actors, and Anthony Hopkins is so wise and smart in that movie, which is how he was able to survive in the wild.
Q: What is your favorite type of music?
A: Definitely country, I’ve always loved that. Recently Carrie Underwood. I’m a big fan of the show “American Idol." I like Kelly Clarkson too. But Carrie Underwood is just awesome. She’s a superstar.
Q: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?
A: I would be on an island somewhere. Nowhere specific. You would be isolated from all of the bad stuff and be able to have your own little world then boat into town when you needed things.
Q: If there was something that you could change about Socorro County, what would it be?
A: There’s a huge drug problem in Socorro that is well documented. It’s big everywhere, but in small towns like ours it seems enormous, and I wish we could fix it. The drugs affect everyone here in so many different ways.
With their home and business connected, Pat and her husband Jim are always welcome to visitors in need of car repairs of any nature.