Mark’s Japanese: Focus on service, not unnecessary frills

Mark Wagner, owner of a smattering of Eastside auto repair shops, recently launched his latest endeavor in Issaquah.

Mark Wagner, owner of a smattering of Eastside auto repair shops, recently launched his latest endeavor in Issaquah.

The newest Mark’s Japanese-European Auto, one in a chain of successful repair shops, opened in August at 90 N.W. Gilman Blvd., Suite A.

It’s dedicated to repairing Japanese and European import cars, but mechanics there can also work on American cars. The repair shop does everything except painting and body work.

Wagner, who grew up in Germany, spent his formative years immersed in training to become a mechanic. He began his schooling at about the ninth-grade age, working in a repair shop four days a week and spending the fifth day in class, studying math, physics and a variety of other required subjects to earn the equivalent of a U.S. college diploma.

After passing a rigorous practical and theory exam, Wagner worked as an auto technician until he enrolled in the University of Frankfurt. In 1986, he graduated from the university with a master’s degree in mechanical engineering.

He worked at an auto repair business in Germany until 1990, when he and his family made the move to Bellevue. There he spent a couple of months working in a repair shop to “know how they work here in the United States and see what the work ethic is like,” before he opened his own shop, Bellevue Transmission, in March of 1991.

The success of that business spurred him to establish more, and from there he opened a series of Mark’s Japanese-European Autos, in Kirkland in 1995, Redmond in 1997, Bellevue in 2000 and now in Issaquah.

Wagner said he is always looking for new opportunities when it comes to his repair shops, but that an Issaquah location was on his mind since the very beginning. A myriad of commercial real estate agents suggested Issaquah to Wagner when he was developing his other stores, but he said he didn’t feel the timing was right until recently.

“Issaquah was a tough place. I wanted to go in there for 14 years,” he said. “When (the current location) came available, it was already promised to someone else, but I convinced them I was the better one.”

His determination to secure a spot in the city earned him the location, and he said business has been great since opening.

Wagner contributes much of his business success to customer satisfaction. He said excellent customer service is what sets Mark’s Japanese-European Auto apart from other repair shops.

Respecting a customer’s budget is extremely important to the company, and Wagner said that’s another thing that keeps people coming back.

“We try to basically explain what is necessary stuff we have to do now, and what we can plan to do later,” he said. “We don’t just do it now to make money, especially if the customer cannot afford it.”

The no-frills nature of his business is also appealing, he said.

Mark’s Japanese-European Auto ads read: “No lattes, no flat screen TVs, no marble floors…”

“Customers absolutely love that and think it’s absolutely right,” Wagner said. “We keep our overhead low and the cost for customers low. The customers are what’s important.”

To reach Mark’s Japanese-European Auto, visit or call 313-9999.