Erie LaSalle Body Shop was established in Chicago, Illinois, in 1934.
In 1934, Ivan Goodmonson established Erie LaSalle Body Shop in Chicago, Illinois.
As the son of farmers in Minnesota, he decided to come to the big city of Chicago to pursue a career in aviation. After hopping a freight train, he arrived looking for employment and began working on cars. It wasn’t long before he became well known as a good car mechanic. “In those days, they tuned cars by ear,” said Bob Gottfred, Goodmonson’s stepson and the current owner of Erie LaSalle Body Shop. “He had a very good ear and did a good job.”
When Goodmonson decided to open a collision repair shop, he had three stalls in the back alley of a building. Eventually, he bought the building from the landlord and continued to expand his business. Erie LaSalle currently operates two locations in downtown Chicago and the Little Village neighborhood on the south side Chicago. Autobody News talked to Bob Gottfred about the growing family business, which he said is the longest continuously-owned auto body repair service of its kind in Chicago and Illinois.
Q: Congratulations on being named one of the best body shops in the Chicago, Illinois, area by Expertise.com. What do you attribute your success to?
A: Continuing education for our employees is number one. We focus on factory training and the OEM certifications we qualify for. We constantly are sending people to classes covering production, management and estimating. We try not to miss a seminar that we think is helpful to our employees.
It is also very important to find the right fit of employees who get along with each other and are not too thin-skinned so they can all work together as a team. My sons, Jay and Jim, are great general managers of our stores. They promote a team concept among our 30 technicians and a family-type of atmosphere. We’ve done this all as a team and I love coming to work every day. My sons and I feel that if we offer employees the best in equipment and training, we expect the best from them.