Highway 18 Collision Center
Location: Brainerd, MN
Company At A Glance...
Type: Collision Repair
Facility Employees: Nine
In Business Since: 1994
Number of Locations: One
Combined Production Space:
20,000 square feet
In this scenario, that’s exactly what happened when a general manager took his lead detailing technician and made him his go-to glass expert after acquiring a glass repair system made by Equalizer®. By relying on Equalizer’s Raptor glass tools and setting up his new glass technician for success, this Minnesota shop is clearly excelling in the world of automotive glass repair and installation.
General Manager Erik Abrahamson, 28, at Highway 18 Collision Center was born to be in the body shop business and believes that being a second-generation owner comes with its own responsibility and accountability. And that’s why he stresses high-quality repairs and works hard to be an exemplary employer and an outstanding member of his community in Brainerd, MN.
By offering a wide range of different services in addition to collision repair including full mechanical, RV and boat repair, as well as auto restorations and soon commercial truck collision repair, Highway 18 Collision Center isn’t afraid to multitask to say the least.
Diversification and capturing more revenue are always attractive to Abrahamson, and doing his own glass work is a big part of that.
“Since we are not a DRP shop, we have to find different ways to please our customers and doing glass work is one great way to do it,” he said. “By keeping it in-house and controlling the entire process, we make more money and are able to maintain our cycle time. We put out the word about our glass work and we’re already picking up more and more of it.”
Head Detailer Russell Hendrickson is enabling his shop to make roughly 20 percent more by using Equalizer glass tools and keeping all of their glass work in-house.
To learn how to use their Raptor and the rest of their Equalizer glass tools, Abrahamson sent his Head Detailer Russell Hendrickson to Texas for the one-week 40-hour Equalizer® training program at the company’s Auto Glass Academy. On day one, he was introduced to the basics in a classroom environment, followed by four full days of hands-on instruction working on vehicles donated by local shops.
“Without quality and up-to-date education, technicians simply cannot be their very best,” said Gilbert Gutierrez, global education director and the company’s national instructor at Auto Glass Academy. “Not knowing the proper tools, methods, rules and limitations can drastically affect somebody’s life. Learning to be your best is the key to complete success in the auto glass industry. Receiving AGSC training accreditation is a recognition that Equalizer’s Auto Glass Academy is committed to enabling technicians with everything possible to do their job most effectively.”
Highway 18 Collision Center in Brainerd, MN, is not a DRP shop, so they have to offer a full menu of services, which includes automotive glass work.
Now that Hendrickson has taken the reins and is essentially running his company’s very own in-house glass repair department, Abrahamson sees the results and they’re encouraging. He added, “We’re making roughly 20 percent more by keeping all of our glass work right here as opposed to sending it out. In the past, we had to use an outside vendor and we were at their mercy. If they were busy, we had to wait three to four days in many cases and the windshields were always an issue. Now we are able to turn around all of our glass work either the same day or next day, which is excellent!”
The Equalizer Raptor is powerful, small, light and easy to maneuver on all types of auto glass. It is a cord and wire auto glass removal device designed to dramatically improve the power of the vacuum cup with the integration of its AirForce™ Constant Vacuum Cups. This technology has been specifically developed by Equalizer® to create a quick placement and constant vacuum to the glass so that the Raptor™ stays in place and resists sliding.
Automotive glass professionals who are interested in completing continuing education in order to maintain their Auto Glass Safety Council™ technician certification have access to four AGSC™ approved CE courses from Auto Glass Academy.
The Auto Glass Academy is a member of the I-CAR® Industry Training Alliance®, which is an alliance that’s committed to the ultimate in automotive training and education. The Industry Training Alliance exists to recognize the accomplishments of training through I-CAR approved providers. All programs approved for inclusion into the Training Alliance must support the I-CAR vision that every person in the collision repair industry has the information, knowledge and skills required to perform complete, safe and quality repairs for the ultimate benefit of the consumer.
When it comes to working closely with any tools or equipment vendor, customer support is crucial. Acquiring any product is easy, but what will its manufacturer or local jobber do for you once you’re onboard?
“The people at Equalizer make it easy,” Abrahamson said. “With some companies, you have to call and then they get back to you in a day or two. With Equalizer, we simply call and their technical people have immediate answers. If we’re not clear on anything, they’re more than willing to walk us through the process or deal with other issues. We work directly with them and that is definitely an advantage.”
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To read more auto body shop profiles from the October 2019 Shop & Product Showcase, click here.