“I think my favorite memory has to be…when I graduated from Miami Senior High,” Valentin Menendez said. “Many of my friends from high school are still my closest friends today.”
Valentin Menendez came to Miami in 1961 after then-dictator Fidel Castro took control of Cuba. Although the Cuban coast is only 90 miles from American soil, it was a completely different world when he arrived. Faced with a new land, a new language and a new life, it was up to Menendez to do with it what he wanted.
“I’ve always liked working with cars,” said Valentin. He considered himself “very lucky” to have turned that love into a career with Auto Sport International. Menendez brought the company to life in 1989 with just 3 employees at the helm of the ship. Menendez dedicated 30 years of his life to going “beyond the call of duty,” as his wife, Cary Menendez, put it. Unsurprisingly, Auto Sport International has been held in high regard by virtually every dealership in Miami and has been certified by Honda, Acura, and Nissan, among others, for quality and service. At its peak, Auto Sport International had 19 employees all dedicated to this standard of excellence.
Suddenly, Valentin Menendez and Auto Sport International were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Menendez spared no effort to keep the business healthy and in the two years the pandemic lasted, he managed to retain 14 employees without sacrificing quality of service. Many of these employees have been with the company for 25 years and still do so today.
This chapter, however, is now coming to an end. The business has been sold and Valentin Menendez will soon be moving to central Florida with his wife to “slow down”, as he put it. “Life in Miami is too fast for me now. Moving to Central Florida is a welcome change of pace,” Valentin said. He spoke of his deep attachment to the city he calls home as he recalls various times such as his graduation from Miami Senior High or even the years when his company was responsible for painting the Miami Fast race car at the Miami Grand Prix, he plans to continue his passion for cars and added that he spends a lot of time watching and attending NASCAR events.Despite the slow times, it was clear that his passion for cars and for the city of Miami never took his foot off the accelerator pedal. even for a second.
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