A son made a promise to his dying father: He would take his business and turn it into an empire built on customer satisfaction.
Today, 32-year-old Peter (Pete) Kathopoulis has made good on that promise. What started under his father as a single garage with one part-time employee has turned into a thriving collision repair business. Modern Auto Crafters at 7027 West Chester Pike in Upper Darby, PA, is now considered one of the largest facilities in the area and staffs numerous employees to keep up with production.
And they’re not done yet. Pete is adding on to his facility to make it even larger and is looking to add more locations.
Danny, Pete’s dad, would have been proud.
“I promised him that I was going to grow the business to make it be a successful brand. Even though I didn’t know anything about the business in terms of fixing cars, I knew how to run a business,” Pete said.
Modern Auto’s success continues a 25-year legacy from his father.
Pete took over the business after his father passed away in July 2010. Before he died, his dad and the rest of the family decided which of their family-owned businesses Pete would put his energies into; Modern Auto or Society Hill Pizza at Broad and South streets in South Philadelphia, where his mother worked.
“My mom worked there for 20 years, [working] 18-hour days, so when it was my time to kick in, we stopped that immediately,” Pete said.
In two weeks, Danny taught Pete everything he could about running a body shop. Danny had learned the trade working with Pete’s grandfather at another Upper Darby body shop. He took that experience and opened his own place at 120 Church Ln. in Upper Darby, which would become Modern Auto Crafters.
When Pete took over, business was OK but had room to grow.
“My father was hands-on, loved to do things himself…” he said. That restricted how much expansion could take place.
Pete took a loan from the bank and scouted out the best body shops in the area, convincing their best employees to come work for him. As he hired more employees, Pete also banked on the reputation of his father.