We opened Lawando’s Auto Service on Kimball and Foster in 1997; it is a family business. I grew up around here. I have four sisters and four brothers. We all went to Amundsen High School at Foster and Damen and so did my kids. North Park is beautiful. The neighborhood is much better than it used to be. It looks really nice, and neighbors take care of each other. I currently live here in North Park and my parents live here, too. Some have told me I should go buy a house in Niles, but I said no. I live in Chicago, and I will die in Chicago.
[Your family is very entrepreneurial. Were you ever nervous about starting up your businesses?]
God was always with us, and we know we have backup with family. When the family sticks together, it always is a blessing. But I’m not sure the next generation will carry on; it is different now. My son and daughter go to college; they don’t want to be a mechanic. And everything is changing; cars are all going to be electric which will be better, pollution wise. These neighborhood auto shops will have to start working on electric vehicles.
[Several years ago, you repainted your business in a very patriotic theme. What made you decide to do this and what message do you want to send?]
I love the USA; I’ll be honest with you. My parents were from Iraq, but they had to flee to a small village in Syria where I was born. I always had a dream to come to America. Everyone talked about America, America, America. Finally we came to this country and I love it and I respect it. I am treated like a human being.
Sami Lawando was interviewed by a neighbor in September of 2022.