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Tuesday, 12 May 2020 17:59

Two Shops in NJ Make Necessary Adjustments, Will 'Weather the Storm'

Written by Victoria Antonelli
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Fantastic Plastic, Inc., is located in Clifton, NJ. Fantastic Plastic, Inc., is located in Clifton, NJ.


Autobody News reached out to two single-location shops in New Jersey that participated in the "Analysis of the Body Shop" survey and volunteered to elaborate further on their responses.

What is the name of your shop? Where are you located? How many employees do you have? What year did you open?


Domenic’s Auto Body; Beverly, NJ; Seven employees; 1982


Fantastic Plastic, Inc; Clifton, NJ; Six employees; 1982


Has the pandemic affected your productivity? How so? Have you been able to stay open? How much more/less productive have you been since the initial quarantine orders (percentage wise)? 


Nikki Donaghy, office manager at Domenic's Auto Body: "We have downsized, but we were able to stay open. Less people on the roads equals less accidents equals less work. While business is still way down from where it was, we have seen some increased accident activity in the past week [as of May 1.] I would say about 20% to 25% more than previous weeks. I have jobs on the schedule for the first time since this whole thing started. We will weather the storm; unfortunately some shops will not.”


Mike MacMullen, owner of Fantastic Plastic, Inc.: “The effects of the pandemic have cut my car count by 75%. We used to repair 12 to 15 cars per week; we are down to three to five.”


Have you had to layoff/furlough any employees? If so, what percentage?


Donaghy: “We did furlough about 70% of our employees, but I am happy to say everyone will be back this upcoming week [as of May 1.]"


MacMullen: “All but one of my employees have been with me for more than 15 years and the office manager has been here for 30 years. Early on when this thing looked like it would hit us hard, I held a meeting and told my employees that I would not lay off anyone, even if it meant I would have to go into my savings to pay them. These people are family to me.”


Have you implemented any changes at your shop, as far as cleanliness or other safety measures in light of the pandemic?


Donaghy: “For the safety of our employees and customers, we disinfect the vehicles prior to being brought in the shop, and as always, we clean the vehicle before it’s delivered. Another change we made is conducting all business outside. We don’t allow anyone into our main office. We do have a small office with a bell, so we can still receive deliveries.”

MacMullen: “We decided to take this time to make our shop a better place to work. We started with having a contractor break up and replace our shop floor. After that we cleaned all of our equipment, power washed the interior and are now in the process of painting the walls."


Have you taken on any other type of work, such as restoration or custom work?


Donaghy: “We have taken rust repairs and full paint jobs, which is something we don’t usually do, unless we are slow. We will likely continue to follow that model going forward, as these types of jobs equal more labor and slower turnaround times."


MacMullen: “We are resisting taking on any full paint work and project cars. This type of work isn't profitable for a small collision shop. I know this because that was what we did for the first five years we were in business. We were a Corvette restoration and customization shop, which is where the name "Fantastic Plastic" comes from. After doing a few collision jobs for my existing customers, I realized collision repair was a better fit for us.”


Have you applied for assistance under the CARES Act just passed by Congress? If so, what has the response been or lack thereof? 


Donaghy: “We did apply for assistance under the PPP/CARES Act and found out this week [May 1] we have been approved. Prior to that, there was zero communication from our bank on the status of our application. We submitted ours as soon as our bank started accepting applications. The money ran out quickly, and we had no idea where we were in the queue. Once the second round of funding was approved, we didn’t hear a word until the loan documents showed up in my email this week.”


MacMullen: “We have applied and been approved for the PPL [Payroll Protection Loan] but haven't received the funds yet. I have received the EIDL [Economic Injury Disaster Loan] money, which came out to $1,000 per employee. I believe the key to getting these loans was to apply early and have a bank willing to aggressively pursue the SBA [Small Business Administration] to secure the funds.”


To learn more about how other shops across the country are faring, or find more information on the survey, check out the following articles:


"Most Shops Weathering the Storm---So Far" 


"Shop in UT Discusses Billing Insurance for Disinfectants, Finds Silver Lining in Uncertain Times" 

Read 1315 times Last modified on Tuesday, 12 May 2020 18:10