Founder/Vintage Specialist

Leon Bouchy is a transmission expert who has been in the industry for over 55 years.  He cofounded Tri-City Transmission with his business partner Mike Young in 1972.

Leon Bouchy and Tri-City Transmission… The rest of the story

Leon was 21 years old, just married to his sweetheart Rita, and working at a steel mill in Pennsylvania.

“It was hard, dirty, and inconsistent work,” says Leon. “And I got tired of frequent layoffs and strikes.”

Leon knew he wanted a better life for him and his new bride. He started talking to a friend.

“Are you ready to go?” said his friend.

“Go where?” said Leon

“To Florida!” said his friend.

“No,” said Leon, “there’s no jobs in Florida.”

“What about California?” said his friend.

Leon started thinking about it, but Rita wasn’t going to leave her friends and family in Pennsylvania to go to California, so he shelved the thought for a while.

Besides Leon was busy. He was working the midnight shift at the steel mill, then sleeping for three hours, then going to transmission school during the day. Leon was working on a plan to have a better life.

Then one day the steel mill went on a 30-day strike. Leon’s friend came back to him and said. “Are you ready?”

“Ready for what?” said Leon

“Ready to go to California,” said his friend.

Coincidentally Leon had finished transmission school. He was on strike from the steel mill. He said to himself, “Why not?”

Rita didn’t like the idea when Leon told her he was going to go to California to look for a job. She cried and cried. But Leon felt that’s what he had to do. So, he and his friend packed up their car, and headed out.

They eventually stopped in Phoenix because his friend had a friend there he wanted to visit. Leon had never been in Arizona before and what he saw surprised him. He had thought that Arizona was a wild west frontier with horses tied to hitching posts. But what he found was a modern city, just like he had left in Pennsylvania.

He stopped at Bill Johnson’s Big Apple on Van Buren Street… (This was when Van Buren was the best area in Phoenix.) Then they found a hotel nearby and Leon’s friend went to meet his friend. Leon stopped at the café next to the hotel for some coffee and happened to strike up a conversation with a woman sitting next to his table. Leon had heard about a shop at 56th Street and Thomas and he asked her if she knew were it was. She told him that it was not too far away from the café. So, Leon started walking to check out that shop because his friend had taken the car.

Leon had a lot of experience fixing cars. As a young man he had worked at a couple of Texaco stations in Pennsylvania. On top of that he had just gotten through transmission school.

When he talked to the owner of the shop, the owner surprised him and said, “Can you start right now?”

Leon was excited. He called Rita and told her he got a job. It was then that they decided to move to Phoenix. They never made it to California.

Leon had a couple of jobs in Phoenix in the automotive industry, and then he got a job where he met Mike Young. The two young men hit it off immediately. First, both men were quickly developing reputations of being the best at their work, even though they were young. Since Leon and Rita didn’t have family or friends in Phoenix, Mike and his wife, Sharon, often invited them to hang out. The two couples became fast friends.

Mike and Leon worked together off and on (mostly on) for a few years. They both developed reputations of knowledge, skill and integrity. Customers and friends encouraged them to start their own shop. The men weren’t so sure about starting a business, and on top of that, they didn’t have any money!

But they kept talking about it. A few more years went by. A friend of Leon’s told him to “quit talking and start doing” and gave him a loan for $5,000. Leon took it to Mike and said, “How much money do you have?”

Mike checked with Sharon. She said they had $250. Leon’s wife Rita also wrote a check for $250. Leon took the $5,500 to the bank and asked for a loan. The bank said, “Yes!” Mike and Leon became business partners.

Tri-City Transmission was born!

“It was almost impossible!” says Leon about the experience owning Tri-City Transmission.

“We almost went broke three times!” he continued. “Every time we were down to our last few dollars some big job came in that helped us make payroll. It helped that we both had wives who were supportive and help out.”

Leon says the business succeeded because of their reputation of being honest, doing excellent work, and keeping a clean shop.

He said, “We would take the women into the shop, (because it was usually the women bringing the cars in) and they would be surprised because the shop was so clean. They would go into the bathroom and be dumbfounded because it was as nice as their bathroom at home, or even better. Their shop bathroom was not a greasy, grimy bathroom like the ones they had seen at plenty of other shops.

Tri-City Transmission continued to grow. Next thing you know they had been in business for 35 years.

Along come Dave Riccio. Leon liked Dave Riccio from start. He saw that Dave was a hard worker and a man of his word. Also, the transmission industry was rapidly changing. It was becoming more computer and technology-oriented, something that Mike and Leon didn’t have a lot of experience with, and Dave was a “Master of Technology.”

It was a no-brainer to Leon to sell the business to Dave when he asked because Leon was ready to do some traveling. He’d been working hard for over 35 years.

So, they worked out an agreement and Dave officially took over the business in November of 2006.

Leon says that he’s glad they sold the business when they did. The timing was right because of changes in the industry.

“I don’t know if we would have done as well as Dave has.” says Leon

“We are proud of the business we built, and we are proud of what Dave has done to continue the business.

Dave still picks up the phone when he needs our advice or has a technical issue on a vintage car, stuff that Mike and I grew up on, and we are always proud to send family and friends down there.”