Founder/Vintage Specialist

There is no substitute for experience. Mike has been in the automotive world for over 60 years; most of that time he has spent as co-founder of Tri-City Transmission. We appreciate Mike's wisdom, expertise and experience at Tri-City Transmission & Auto Repair. He is our "go-to" expert when it comes to older model and vintage vehicles.

Mike Young & Tri-City Transmission … The rest of the story

Mike Young and Leon Bouchy were young mechanics, barely out of trade school when they started working together at an auto repair shop in Phoenix. They had no idea what grand adventure lie ahead, but they were sure it was something good.

Mike Young was settling into his new job as a transmission mechanic when he met co-worker Leon Bouchy. Leon and his wife Rita had recently moved to Phoenix from Pennsylvania. Since they were new to the area and didn’t have friends or family nearby Mike and his wife, Sharon, started including Leon and Rita in their lives. They often spent holidays such as Thanksgiving or Christmas together. The two couples immediately hit it off.

Mike said, “I liked Leon immediately. He was a man of integrity. There was just something about him.”

Even though they were opposites- Mike was a quiet and reserved person while Leon loved to talk to people and to be the life of the party - The two became fast friends at work, and away from work.

After a few years of working together, Mike and Leon started talking about opening their own shop someday. Maybe it was a pipe dream, after all, neither one of them had any money saved up to open a business. But they still liked to dream. Their reputation of providing quality work and customer service began to spread, and soon their customers were encouraging them to open their own shop.

Leon had a friend who had been his previous automotive instructor. The friend told Leon it was time to stop talking and start doing. And so, he loaned the two of them $5,000 to start a transmission business.

Mike says they were very fortunate. By this time in their careers they had developed relationships with suppliers who knew that Mike and Leon were people they could trust, so the suppliers gave them generous terms on the equipment and tools they needed to start their shop. The automotive community trusted them.

So, on March 20th, 1972, Tri-City Transmission opened its doors. On the day they opened they had a line of cars waiting for service. Mike and Leon were encouraged, and the business started building a reputation of excellence from the first day.

Being in business with a partner can be tough, but Mike thinks that because they both had the same values of integrity and taking care of people, it made working together easy.

Mike and Leon were best friends. They shared the same office at work. They spent a lot of time together hunting or fishing or going on family vacations. They rarely had any disagreements, but when they did, they got over them quickly.

Fast forward a few decades, the City of Tempe contacted Mike and Leon and said that they were planning on building a big development on their site and that they should investigate relocating Tri-City Transmission or else risk losing it to eminent domain. That site is now the location of Tempe Marketplace.

Mike and Leon were flexible in the way they worked with the City of Tempe and as a result they built the building that Tri-City is now in on Rio Salado Parkway. Because the back of the building was facing Rio Salado Parkway, the City did not want any exterior heating or air conditioning equipment exposed to the street to become an eyesore. That’s when Mike and Leon met Dave Riccio.

Dave Riccio was a young man working for the HVAC company that Mike called to help them with their HVAC problem. Their situation was unique and that meant that the company had to design a custom solution to cool their building that wouldn’t show equipment from the outside. Dave was instrumental in designing that system.

From the beginning Mike and Leon liked Dave. He was a young man, but he was a go-getter. On top of that, he was a man who kept his word. If Dave said something was going to happen, it happened. Mike and Leon were very impressed on how Dave handled the project and they were pleased to have worked with him. Little did they know that in a few years Dave would become a very important part of their lives.

At age 29, Dave Riccio’s life was going well. He was happily married and had a newborn son who was the apple of his eye. He also had a fulfilling career in the industrial heating and AC (HVAC) industry. But then one day, life as he knew it changed forever.

It started out as any other day; he kissed his family and hopped into his car to go to work. But when he went to put the key in the ignition he couldn’t do it…he couldn’t control his hand enough to get the key in the ignition, and he had a bad headache. Dave thought that he had a migraine, so he went back inside and went to bed.

But when he didn’t get better after several days, Dave went to the hospital. The early diagnosis was a tumor, a stroke, or Multiple Sclerosis (MS). It took weeks of testing before the diagnosis was confirmed. Dave Riccio had MS.

MS is a disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms include numbness of hands and feet, blurred vision, stiff legs, short-term memory loss, dizziness, fatigue and chronic pain. MS is not curable or preventable, however treatments are available to reduce severity and delay progression.

Dave’s initial MS episode left him physically unable to drive for three months and it was during that recuperation that his life took on a whole new meaning. Suddenly it became Dave’s mission to provide for his family in the event of ongoing relapses of MS. He felt that owning his own business would be the best way to do that.

It was then that Dave remembered Mike and Leon at Tri-City Transmission whom he had sold HVAC equipment to. They had looked as if they were close to retirement age. In earlier jobs Dave was an automotive technician as well as managed a tire and auto repair shop. He felt with his experience he would do well in the transmission business.

He also really liked the culture and attitude of Tri-City Transmission. Dave asked Mike and Leon if they would be interested in selling their business.

Mike says that at the time he hadn’t given serious thought about retiring or selling the business. They had employees that had worked there for over 20 years and they had become their close friends. Not only that, they were now servicing the vehicles of the grandchildren of their original customers.

“The business was very satisfying,” said Mike. He really didn’t want to give it up at the time. However, Leon, on the other hand, wanted to spend more time traveling and doing the things he loved. After all, they had owned Tri-City Transmission at this point for 35 years. It was time to move on. The problem was, they didn’t want to sell it to just anybody.

“I would have rather closed the shop than to sell it to a company that would change things and run it into the ground,” says Mike.

“If the business is successful, why change a good thing?”

Leon was ready to move on, mike wasn’t. That’s where Dave came up with a solution. Dave initially bought Leon out first, while Mike stayed on for a time to help transition the business and pass the torch.

It helped that they had worked with Dave in the past and knew him and liked him. Mike said, “Dave had the same work ethic that we did, and we liked that.”

It didn’t hurt that Leon’s wife Rita, also said that Dave reminded her of Leon when he was a young man.

So, it was decided that the business would be sold, and Mike and Leon worked with Dave to come up with an agreement that worked for everybody. They officially sold the business in November of 2006.

Since then, Dave has continued to run the business by the high standards that Mike and Leon put in place, but he also added his own “four rules.”

“Show up on time, do what you say you’re going to do, say please and thank you and finish what you start.”

With these standards in place, the business has continued to grow under Dave’s ownership. Dave says that it was the foundation that was built by Mike and Leon that has helped the business to prosper. In fact, because of the high ethical standards that Mike, and Leon set from the beginning that Tri-City Transmission has won many awards including the BBB International Torch Award for Ethics. “

Mike and Leon are still involved in the business. They are quick to help with vintage vehicles or offer words of wisdom when needed. Dave says, “regardless of the fact that vehicles have changed, people have not. I am just so glad to have Mike and Leon’s experience and wisdom as a resource. On top of that they are just great people and I thoroughly enjoy working with them.”

Mike and Leon are happy with the way that everything has turned out and give Dave their highest blessing. They both agree, “Tri-City Transmission & Auto Repair is still being run like we ran it back then. And that’s why we continue to refer our friends and family there today.”