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Ed Attanasio

Ed Attanasio is an automotive journalist based in San Francisco. Ed enjoys sports of all kinds and is a part time stand-up comedian.

 

He can be reached at era39@aol.com.

Friday, 06 March 2020 18:57

Is Toyota of Berkeley the Country’s Oldest Collision Center?

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Body Shop Manager Paul Orea, left, and Assistant Manager Terrie Thompson, right, run the show at the collision center at Toyota of Berkeley’s Collision Center, which recently celebrated its 51-year anniversary. Body Shop Manager Paul Orea, left, and Assistant Manager Terrie Thompson, right, run the show at the collision center at Toyota of Berkeley’s Collision Center, which recently celebrated its 51-year anniversary.

Index

Years ago, car dealerships did a great job of branding. 

I’d like to know the name of the person who began calling their body shops “collision centers,” because it stuck. Most industry people know a collision center is likely connected to a body shop nowadays, although it’s not the standard. 
 
I bring this up because recently, Toyota of Berkeley’s Collision Center Manager Paul Orea told me his collision center was opened in 1969, which makes it the oldest in the country. 
 
I did some research and even consulted our own collision historian Gary Ledoux, and I could not find another of its type that was older than 51 years.
 
The Bay Area has a rich and long history when it comes to collision repair. 
 
George V. Arth & Son, the oldest body shop in the country, is in Oakland, CA, just seven miles away from Toyota of Berkeley’s facility. It opened in 1877 and worked on horse-drawn carriages during its early years. 
 
As someone who started out as a painter and worked his way up to management, one of Orea’s main goals is to develop young talent and set them up for success. He wants Toyota of Berkeley to flourish for many years to come, and knows it can only happen with an infusion of new talent, he said. 
 
The crew’s newest addition is Augustin Rojas, age 21. Similar to the way Orea progressed within the industry, Rojas is learning by doing and absorbing as much Toyota training as he possibly can. 
 
“Paul gave me a chance and I definitely appreciate it,” Rojas said. “I have worked on cars since I can remember and have wanted to be a body technician my whole life, so this is a great opportunity. 
 
"I knew upfront what this job would entail, so I was prepared for the commitment," Rojas said. "I like challenges and this job challenges me every day.”
 
Orea knows it’s sometimes better to hire a rookie and teach them the Toyota way as opposed to a veteran who is likely to be set in his ways and not open to new technology and ideas. 

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