Rick’s Auto Body Inc.
Location: Missoula, MT
Company At A Glance...
Type: Collision Repair
Facility Employees: 34
In Business Since: 1979
Number of Locations: One
DRP Programs: Nine
Combined Production Space:
18,000 square feet
With OEM certifications rapidly becoming more important and technical, shops like Rick’s Auto Body in Missoula, MT, rely on paint suppliers to remain steadfast and provide value beyond the products they sell. Rick’s Auto Body sprays with Cromax® CHROMAPREMIER®, and owner Paul Flores shares, “We have used Axalta products since the 1990s. They were leading the industry and we wanted to do the same in our market.”
“Axalta’s products are top-notch, but the business development aspect, especially the business councils, has brought tremendous value to our organization,” Flores added. “Our local rep, Gene Fenske, as well as every Axalta client under his service, has been great to work with. Whenever we had complications with a product, Axalta has helped us navigate the situation as quickly as possible.”
Rick’s Auto Body was founded in 1976 by Rick Booth as a part-time business doing total-loss rebuilds, custom painting and restoration work before he expanded his hours to fulltime status in 1979. Over the decades, Booth focused on growing his brand and reputation until beginning the process of selling the shop to Flores in 2013. He officially retired in 2019 after completing the transaction of selling the entire business to Flores.
The shop is an 18,000 square foot facility employing 34 collision repair professionals who repair an average of 200 vehicles each month. In addition, Rick’s Auto Body holds nine DRP contracts and is certified in FCA, Ford, Ford Aluminum, Nissan, Hyundai, Honda ProFirst and Subaru. According to Flores, “I believe our production model sets us apart from other shops. We have dedicated Disassembly/Blueprint teams, Body teams and Paint teams. This increases our production capacity and provides greater benefits to our customers in reduced wait times to schedule for repairs and to decrease repair cycle times.”
“Our focus on OEM certifications and providing our customers with OEM certified repairs is important. This involves a heavy commitment to on-going training, equipping and tooling in every area of the business. Our team is also highly dedicated to improving upon our communication skills—both internally and with our customers and business associates,” Flores said. “OEM certifications are huge. First notice of loss has been captured by insurers; however, advanced telematics will transfer first notice of loss to the OEMs. This has the potential to decrease the value of direct repair programs and put emphasis on OEM certification or at least bring equal value to the two.”
Axalta’s flawless finishes allows Rick’s Auto Body to produce superior repairs that keep customers coming back.
Looking to the future, Flores adds, “I see the potential of the all makes, all-models type of shop going away. Specialization in the form of OEM certification will be the primary focus. The cost of correctly repairing multiple brands may limit shops to only selecting certifications with the largest OEMs represented in their market place. The threat of liability for repairing a vehicle that you are not approved to repair may also lead to specialization with specific OEMs.”
Flores notes, “The landscape’s changing rapidly, and the information necessary for all parties to make the right decision is moving much slower. Access to the necessary information is a roadblock due to insurers’ unwillingness to acknowledge the need for the subscription fee. To accurately repair a vehicle, you must access the repair information from the OEM sites as they are the only ones who have the most up-to-date information. Understanding OEM repair procedures on every repair is also a culture change that requires communication, education, time, patience and a consistent commitment to our technical development.”
Rick’s Auto Body employs 34 collision repair professionals who repair an average of 200 vehicles each month.
Rick’s Auto Body is also committed to lessening its impact on the environment through best practice processes and procedures in addition to using fully integrated UV primers to reduce the amount of coverage necessary to achieve a better quality product. Flores recalls, “We tested new primer products for Axalta in the mid-2000s and then integrated the products into our daily production. Axalta was outstanding in helping us field test, and they continued to provide excellent support if we had any questions when we rolled out for full production. Implementing new Axalta products has traditionally been a seamless process.”
The technicians working at Rick’s Auto Body love Cromax® CHROMAPREMIER® because it’s so easy to spray and produces a flawless finish, and their experiences with other Axalta products have also been very favorable. Flores points out, “We’ve been partners too long now to remember anything but Axalta, but with all the benefits they offer, why would we want to?”
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Axalta Coating Systems
Company Contact: Heidi Stillwell
To read more auto body shop profiles from the October 2019 Shop & Product Showcase, click here.