The 4x4 market is huge and growing, and unless we have another bubble in the economy, I see this market continuing to grow,” says Andy Sokso, of Andy’s Automotive & Off Road.Technician Mike Sampson prepares to do an alignment at Andy’s Automotive & Off Road in Olympia.

Andy’s follows its passion and niche

Andy Sokso rides wave of 4x4 off-road popularity with various services and products

Olympia, Wash.—Andy Sokso is candid that the off-road segment of his business is a niche market many shops may not want to approach.

“I started this about 10 years before my dad retired and it has paid off. The 4x4 market is huge and growing, and unless we have another bubble in the economy, I see this market continuing to grow, and we will expand with it,” he said.

From automotive blood, Sokso started working full time for his father, Rich, at LaMan Automotive in Olympia in 1996. The elder Sokso, who operated two Exxon service stations for years, had purchased LaMan in 1986 from its original owners who had founded it a decade earlier.

In 2006, the younger Sokso started what would develop into 50 percent of overall business, light truck and off road parts, service, and repair. With the retirement of his father in 2015, the business became Andy’s Automotive & Off Road.

“We provide complete automotive maintenance and repair for most makes of cars and light trucks, but we also are full-service off-road specialists,” Sokso said. .

From engine work to tires, Sokso said he doesn’t send any work away from the shop. That includes tire and wheel sales with brands such as BFGoodrich, Goodyear, Nitto (all-terrain, extreme mud, and high-performance tires), Mickey Thompson wheels and tires, Falco wheels, and other related products.

Technician Mike Sampson said the shop uses a Hunter 811 Alignment System for wheel alignments that are provided at Andy’s and for another local shop.

“In the truck and off-road vehicles we service, suspension and drivetrain are the top products we sell,” Sokso said. “That includes lots of Zone suspension and Nitro Gear parts and trucks, Jeeps, and SUVs.”

One of the key elements of service and repair at Andy’s involves using high-quality parts, especially light truck hard parts, as well as top brands of 4x4 products and accessories. “We’ve always used the best available products because we don’t want warranty work on parts that come back to us,” Sokso said. Products commonly used at the shop include Spicer engine and drivetrain parts, AAM drivetrains, and Eaton products.

“We’ve been dealing with Seattle Automotive Distributing (SAD) since they started more than 30 years ago, and use their Olympia warehouse as a major parts source,” Sokso said, adding that the shop also uses O’Reilly Auto Parts as a supplier. Both SAD and O’Reilly are connections for training programs offered in the region, he said.

A crowded showroom in the customer service area displays many extensive products the business offers for off road customers. They include brands such as Warn winches, Bushwacker fender flares and related accessories, ARB air lockers and 4x4 accessories, K&N filtration products, Volant intakes, Pro Com suspension products, Husky floor mates and liners, Vision and Rigid lighting products, WeatherTech mats and liners, Dyno Max performance exhaust, Skyjacker suspensions, Nitro Gear axle and suspension parts, Zone Offroad suspension products, and more.

 “While we see plenty of older cars and trucks, up to 12 years old, we do see new vehicles as well, those with more sophisticated technology, so need to have the correct scan tools to deal with that changing technology is very important.”

In the seven-bay, 4,200-square-foot shop, an Autel MaxiSys Elite scan tool is the major tool used for diagnostics.

The shop, an AAA-approved facility, is a member and promoter of the Washington Off Highway Vehicle Alliance (WOHAV), a group that promotes responsible off-highway use, including education programs for off-roaders. WOHAV also provides interaction with the state legislature, government agencies, and land owners. "This is an important group that is helpful to the off road community."

“I believe we’ve been successful because we’ve been fair and honest with our customers, offer high-quality parts and off-road products, and understand the needs of our off-road customers.”

Parts & People

Parts & People is published monthly by Automotive Counseling and Publishing Company, Inc., a Colorado corporation, P.O. Box 18731 Denver, CO 80203, 303-765-4664. President-Lance Buchner. Founded by Lance Buchner and Dave Lucia.