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Son. Husband. Father.

Lebanon County resident, worker, and business owner.

Recovering addict.

Jesús A. Rivera, owner of Rivera’s Auto Spa LLC, sat down with LebTown and shared what these labels mean to him.

“I was brought here around like 9 or 10 years old,” he said. “I was born in Puerto Rico. My mom came over here. And she had a separation from [my] dad.”

Upon moving to Lebanon County, Rivera started attending Henry Houck Elementary School and remained a student in the Lebanon School District until graduating from Lebanon High School in 2011.

“It was rough. I almost didn’t graduate,” he said. “I became a dad early. I was like 14 and the first … was a miscarriage.”

Rivera and his now wife, Lyanne, went on to have two daughters, who are now 12 and 13 years old.

Rivera with Lyanne and their daughters at Rivera’s Auto Spa LLC. (Provided by Jesús A. Rivera)

When he first learned that he was going to be a father, Rivera picked up a job at a local McDonald’s.

Rivera said, “This is something I never talked about before this but … I want to put it out there just because I think it’s part of how I got here, just being young, and not thinking right, I started hanging around people that, I don’t know, maybe I shouldn’t have.”

“In 2013, I believe it was, I had a car accident, and I broke my femur,” he said. To cope with the injury, Rivera was given prescription drugs.

As a result of the car accident and his subsequent addiction to prescription drugs, Rivera said that he and his family lost practically everything and had to move back in with his mother.

Rivera went back to work at a local saw mill but said there “was an environment there that, I guess, it got a lot of us, especially talking about me. We already knew what these prescription meds were. And so, it kind of got me hooked on,” he said. “And it was three or four years. … It was like a real dark bowl that we were in.”

At one point, Rivera’s wife and mother had an intervention with him.

“My mom said to me, ‘You either let us help you, or I’m going to put you in jail.'”

A Lebanon County Sheriff’s vehicle detailed by Rivera’s Auto Spa LLC. (Provided by Jesús A. Rivera)

“I got to a point where I just got tired of it because it became more of like a need instead of something I wanted to do,” Rivera said of the eventual shift in his attitude toward drug use.

Rivera, in an attempt to get sober, went to Puerto Rico for two months.

“That didn’t work. That’s just running away,” he said. “And when I came back, it was the same. You’ve got to face it. You’ve got to … work through it and just face the situation.

“Sometimes, we think, ‘I’m going to move out of Lebanon.’ Lebanon is not the issue. It’s everywhere, and we make our own decisions.”

One way that Rivera faced his addiction was by going to therapy.

“We did a lot of things to try and get out of that,” he said. “The therapy did help. And there’s a lot of people that I know that think that therapy and counseling does not help. And it does, it does if you’re willing to put in the work and you want to change. If you’re just trying to like make somebody happy, you’re just not going to. … I did it for my family, but I did it for me. When you’re trying to get out of any type of addiction or whatever, you have to be selfish.”

In talking about addiction at large, Rivera said that staying sober is a daily decision.

“To me, it’s not worth it,” he said about the option to end sobriety. “Like it’s not worth a minute or an hour of whatever it is because I don’t know a name for it and losing your life, your family, all you’ve accomplished, whatever goals you have.”

Rivera also said that the real battle takes place on the streets, which makes having a strong support system important.

“[Lyanne has] been like a big part,” he said. “We’ve been 13 years together, since high school. And it’s been rough, but we’ve stood together. She’s always been there, pushing me, supporting me, and, you know, one another.”

Rivera said that his parents in the area, his father in Puerto Rico, and his daughters also played significant parts in helping him get to where he is today.

Rivera and his family members at the grand opening of Rivera’s Auto Spa LLC at its current location. (Provided by Jesús A. Rivera)

Between working full-time at factories and warehouses, showing up for his family, and working to stay sober, Rivera started detailing vehicles.

“From just starting at home in a parking lot where I wasn’t supposed to be doing detailing, I went from there to like a one-bay garage,” he said.

After about a year of detailing at the one-bay garage, which he used to store the supplies and actually detailed the vehicles out on the sidewalk, Rivera moved to a two-bay garage.

One of Rivera’s previous garage spaces. (Provided by Jesús A. Rivera)

“I was there for a year exactly. And then, I was offered this place,” he said. “I had done a vehicle for a customer, and that person is the brother of the landlord here, the person that I rent it from. So, he offered me the place.

“At first, I was doubtful because, you know, it’s a whole different ballpark from doing it as a side gig or like a hobby to a business.”

Rivera put his fears about becoming a business owner aside and took the leap.

“I’ve had times where I just want to give up and just, you know, close everything down,” he said. “But then, I sit back and say and I think to myself and I look at pictures and from how we started and, you know, to go from like literally nothing … to where we’re at now, that’s what keeps me going.”

This August will mark two years for Rivera’s Auto Spa LLC at 631 E. Weidman St.

Along the way, Rivera gained experience with the more intricate aspects of the field through a job at Klick Lewis in Palmyra and a part-time job at a warehouse. He also took a course on paint correction at Detailing World in Manheim.

Rivera said that while certifications look good, it is more important for detailers to put in the work and love what they do.

“I like seeing the outcome, the before and the afters,” he said. “I might start a car and just like be tired, but once I get that car and see the customer’s reaction, you know, and see the customer happy about how the car was from before and how it is now. That’s what makes me feel good.”

Rivera’s Auto Spa LLC interior detailing services include vacuuming, steam cleaning, carpet shampooing, cleaning the floor mats, cleaning the inside of windows, cleaning and treating vinyl and leather, and adding fragrance.

“Basically, any crevice that you imagine, and there’s even places that customers sometimes don’t even know that it’s there, we clean them,” he said.

And Rivera’s Auto Spa LLC has started to think outside the box, or car that is.

“I feel stuck, so we’re focusing more on the exterior … because you could drive by [the car], [or] the car could be parked, [and someone could ask] ‘Who did that car?'”

Rivera and his surroundings in the reflection of a vehicle’s paint. (Provided by Jesús A. Rivera)

The business is now offering paint correction and will remove swirls and scratches as much as possible to make “that paint popping and look different from other cars out there.”

Rivera views the business’s next step as ceramic coatings and has started booking with people he knows.

Those interested in Rivera’s Auto Spa LLC and the services it provides can learn more via its website: riverasautospallc.com; Facebook page: Rivera’s Auto Spa LLC; or TikTok page: @riverasautospallc21. Rivera noted that the business does not do vehicle repairs.

“I am working on the website to add some services and just trying to make it English and Spanish,” Rivera said. “I don’t know how I’m going to do it but I’m trying to figure that out just to make it easier on everybody.”

In talking about his business practices at large, Rivera said, “My goal is to always to make sure that the customer leaves happy and satisfied and, you know, getting them to come back.”

Rivera then described a recent experience he had as a customer with a business owner that changed the way he interacts with his customers as a business owner.

“I called the business owner to speak to them because, it was ice cream, the ice cream didn’t taste right. I had gone before, and just to make it a little bit short, … she gave us the money back [and] said … I’m not going to sell you anything … and I don’t care if you give me a review. It doesn’t affect me. I don’t care about it. And she’s like, I have people that have driven further than you to come here.”

Rivera took that experience, learned from it, and is applying what he learned to his own business.

“I started asking people and all my customers, especially newer customers, you know, if they’re happy with the car, to try to make them feel comfortable, because I can try to ask them but if they see me like some type of way, they’re probably not going to say anything,” he said.

Rivera said that he views constructive criticism as an opportunity to grow and encourages his customers to speak up if they are not satisfied with a service.

“I feel that sometimes customers have, I don’t know, whatever it is to say, and they’re just afraid to say it, and they just leave. And what happens is when somebody asks, ‘Who did your car?’ that whatever they didn’t tell the business owner, that’s what they’ll tell them.”

Another vehicle that was detailed by Rivera’s Auto Spa LLC. (Provided by Jesús A. Rivera)

Looking towards the future, Rivera’s goals for himself and his family include supporting themselves with the business, purchasing a home, and financially supporting their daughters if they decide to pursue higher education.

As a business, Rivera wants to give back to the community and help those who are experiencing addiction, especially teenagers and people without support systems.

“Hopefully, I’m able to do more for the community and give back and help out rather than just be here as a business and just stay here in these four walls and mind my own,” he said.

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Lexi Gonzalez

Lexi Gonzalez is a reporter for LebTown. She is currently completing her bachelor's degree at Lebanon Valley College.


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