Shop Showcase (163)
Would Your Shop Make a Good SHOP SHOWCASE Story?
It could have turned out differently. When Bob Morgan thumbed through a copy of Entrepreneur Magazine in 1984 looking for business to start, he came across a list of businesses ranked by profitability and lowest start-up costs. "Number one was dry cleaning," said Morgan, 60, "and there was no way I way going into that business. Number two was collision repair, and I figured that had possibilities."
There aren't too many shop owners who would be happy to have a large consolidator and a big DRP shop as neighbors, but it doesn't seem to bother Ken Souza and Rich Dickson of D&S Body Shop in San Ramon, California. "Our business has continued to grow ever since they moved in," said Souza, who manages the 12-employee operation. "They have to drive by those shops to get to us. We're all together because this is the only light industrial area in the city. We get customers who don't want to do business with a huge shop like M2. The other company (Cook's Collision, a multi-shop operator) took over a small independent much like us and now we get people who are more comfortable dealing with other locally owned businesses. I really think it's helped us."
Mossy Toyota certified collision center manager Dave Carter chose different words to describe his experience. “I’ve had more fun doing this than I’ve ever had,” he said without a moment’s hesitation.
Continental Automotive Group Collision Center is an anomaly in Austin, Texas. They don't have any DRP contracts. There's no marketing staff. They don't work on pick-ups, and they compete with the nation's largest consolidator (Caliber). Yet, with annual sales of $5 million - "headed for $7 million - they 're one of the largest collision centers in central Texas. "We don't need DRP contracts," said shop manager Robert Joyner, 64, "we fix'em on our terms." Now, it's not that Joyner wouldn't consider DRP work - he used to run one of the largest DRP shops in Waco, Texas. "We just haven't had the need. The work is coming around here. We're always busy."
"The product you put out is your best advertisement," according to Pat Chovanec, collision center manager for Appel Collision Center. "Our business is built on word-of-mouth and repeat business."
CAPA has refuted allegations made in two reports issued by General Motors comparing CAPA-certified parts to GM parts.
CAA's annual state-wide meeting, which this year was renamed from "expo" to "convention and industry conference", opened to light attendance at the Disneyland Hotel on June 28-29. Approximately 100 industry suppliers had booths in the exhibit hall, and several reported good sales despite the fact that exhibit floor seldom seemed busy. "We sold two systems on Friday night," said Ron Peters of Island Clean Air. "I'm happy." The AMI classes were sold out, according to AMI California Director Fred Sullivan. "I have 200 people in classes here" said Sullivan.
When you come upon Atlas Body Shop in San Antonio, just down the street from Fort Sam Houston, you could almost think you're driving up to a first class professional building rather than a body shop. The main building is surrounded by graceful trees, and the two-story entranceway is guarded by a beautiful stone fountain that makes you think of old Mexico.
Mike Rose has always been an entrepreneur. He was just 19 and had less than a year of full-time work experience when he rented a garage in 1972 and started competing for body and paint work in the San Francisco Bay area; by age 21 he had his first employee. Rose, who had been working in his brother-in-law's body shop since he was a high school freshman, realized that owning a shop was the way to go. "After I got the garage, I saw that I made more money in a few hours at night than I did all day long."
Not everyone believes that consolidators will make collision repair unprofitable for independents. After nearly a two year absence in the collision repair marketplace, brothers Craig and Kyle Van Cleve are back, having repurchased the five Craig's locations they sold to consolidator Collision Team of America (CTA) in 1998. The Van Cleves are part of the group of independents led by Dan Hall of Indiana who decided to get back in the business when Ford Motor Company, parent company to CTA, decided to get out of it.
"Today, it's not enough to do good work, says Len Verheyen, a second-generation body shop owner. "The shop has to look like a first-class facility if you want insurance business." Len and his wife, Anne, stayed focused on that thought over the 18 months it took to build their new $3.2 million facility in Oceanside, California - just a few blocks yet light years away from the shop they started in 1985.