Rudy Quinones, owner of Renown Auto Restoration in San Antonio, Texas, should undoubtedly be awarded employer of the year after an act of kindness allowed one of his staff to retire early. Mechanic Alber Brigas has been working for Quinones for more than 10 years, and was utterly surprised, and very grateful, when Quinones paid what is left of his home mortgage.
Brigas has been a mechanic his entire life. A veteran of the Vietnam war, the 69-year old Brigas worked as an aircraft mechanic in the Air Force, and had been working with Quinones for 13 years. In fact, Brigas was one of Quinones’ first employees.
When Quinones opened his first retail automotive shop in 2006, Brigas was the one he could always rely on in the shop. He also proved his loyalty when he stayed with Quinones, even after the shop owner had closed the automotive shop to move on to custom restoration in 2014.
“Albert has done numerous jobs for us, he’s been an auto mechanic, he’s been the shop maintenance guy, parts runner, he’s been just about everything — the delivery person, the shuttle driver — he’s been just about everything, and I can always rely on Albert,” Quinones said.
Brigas had always wanted to retire, but bills and the remaining home mortgage on his home was a huge deterrent. After knowing of his hard working employee’s intentions over the past year, Quinones wanted Brigas to have more time to enjoy his grandchildren.
Acknowledging the hard work and dedication that Brigas had shown to his shop, Quinones then called Brigas into his office last month. “I told him, ‘How would you like to retire early?’ It didn’t sink in … I told him, ‘Give me a pay-off [amount] on your home.'”
After a week of consideration, Brigas relented and accepted the generous offer. Quinones then accompanied Brigas and his wife Sylvia to the bank to finally pay off Brigas’ $5,000 home mortgage. The deed to the house arrived soon after, triggering the much-anticipated retirement that was expected to happen only in 2020.
It was actually a bittersweet moment for auto-body restoration shop owner, because it meant letting go of his most trusted and dedicated employee. But Quinones had no regrets.
“Albert is a humble individual, extremely hardworking, would give the shirt off his back to anyone. His family was very close to our hearts and the fact that he gave us so many loyal years of service… He’d come to work sick, he never came in late. He is just one of those guys that had so much pride in what he did.”
“Albert will always be part of the family,” Quinones added. “He lives 10 minutes away from the shop, and he’s always welcome to come back, hang out, talk with the guys.”
Overwhelmed by his friend and employer’s kindheartedness, Brigas stated, “[I’m] very surprised and very grateful. He’s a really great guy. He cares about his people and what happens. My house is paid for and I’m ready to enjoy my retired life.” Quinones has certainly built a business with a supportive environment.
Now one week into his well-deserved retirement, Brigas has been having the time of his life, particularly enjoying the time he can now spend with his young grandchildren. “To give them something that they’ve been yearning to have their whole lives. It’s incredible.”
Quinones couldn’t be happier for Brigas. He hopes that by paying off his employee’s mortgage it will inspire other managers to reward staff for their significant contributions to business and give back to employees who put “so much heart into their work.”
While Brigas will be missed, Quinones said he takes satisfaction in knowing that he is enjoying his life and no longer living from paycheck to paycheck.
Watch the heartwarming news coverage from KENS 5.