From from under the bus: Meet mechanic Rolando Rodriguez

After working for Olympus Limousine and Martz First Class Coach, both on Florida’s West Coast, Rolando Rodriguez launched 24 Hour Mobile Mechanics, based in Tampa, Florida, in 2008. Now, he takes his services on the road, responding to as many as 30 calls on a busy day. He services motorcoaches and buses with his crew of two other mechanics. 

“I have been working as a mechanic since I was very small. Thankfully, I had the opportunity to be a third-generation heavy-duty mechanic in my family,” said Rodriguez, who began his career cleaning buses.

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Rolando Rodriguez

He says he’s partial to motorcoaches and buses. He enjoys calls for a “discreet fix,” making repairs while passengers are at a restaurant or attraction.

“There’s a lot of engineering that goes into motorcoaches. I’m super passionate about them,” he said. 

Bus & Motorcoach News caught up with Rodriguez to hear about why he loves working on motorcoaches, his career highs and lows, and his passion for the business.

What repair or job gives you the most satisfaction when completed?

It would have to be the roadside rescue, to see the reaction that people get when we show up and complete the job.

What’s the strangest or most bizarre repair or fix you’ve done?

So many to tell, but the best one was when I sent a bus from Florida to Virginia with a freon tank feeding the A/C compressor.

What’s your go-to phrase?

Let’s get this money!

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Rolando Rodriguez making a roadside repair in the rain.

How did you become a motorcoach mechanic?

I come from a long line of motorcoach mechanics. I’ve been working on buses since I was a child.

What are your previous careers?

As far as careers, this has been the only one, but I have volunteered to learn all kinds of different things, from building homes to building boats. The sky’s the limit when it comes to learning new things.

What’s your favorite and/or least favorite repair to do and why?

I absolutely love doing Preventative Maintenance Services and tire replacements on the side of the road due to the danger and the satisfaction of the response of the customers.

What’s your favorite bus feature?

My favorite bus feature is a difficult one to answer because there are so many features and abilities to these buses that it’s hard to pick, but the reliability of the MCI 102DL3.

What’s the best compliment you’ve received?

Of course, it has to be the speed of my response and the speed of the service. We are usually able to respond within 90 minutes, depending on the location. We are all fast-paced workers. We get there and get out as fast as we can. We sometimes do what I call a discreet fix of a coach, one that’s parked after dropping passengers at a restaurant or attraction so they don’t know anything was wrong. 

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Rolando Rodriguez says he’s partial to motorcoach repairs.

What’s your most memorable shop/repair story?

One time, I had an assistant with me. We were changing some batteries on a Van Hool, and one of the batteries exploded and sprayed both of us in acid and we had to run to the water hose. Fortunately, neither of us suffered any injuries.  

What’s your best piece of advice for a newbie?

Honestly, figure out if this is the type of thing you really enjoy doing because it’s such a demanding profession.

What’s your favorite bus to repair/work on and why?

The MCI has always been the best in my eyes, but Prevost also has a top spot.

What’s your career highlight?

Meeting then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney during the Republican National Convention at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. I was working for Martz. I was in charge of the convoy. I was working on the campaign coaches when Mitt came out and personally thanked us for our service. I didn’t ask for a photo because I wanted to be professional, but it was nice to briefly talk to him. 

What question should we have asked you and what’s your answer?

Q: Would I recommend anybody choose this career?

A: Pretty much. It’s not easy, but it’s satisfying. You need to be able to repair a vehicle on the side of the road or in the shop effectively and in a good amount of time. This can be very stressful because you can never really leave your work at work.

Read more From Under the Bus columns.

If you are a motorcoach mechanic and would like to be featured in From Under the Bus, contact Shandra Martinez at busandmotorcoachnews@gmail.com.

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