Wednesday, 21 December 2011 13:28

G&C AutoBody Will Spend $2M on Solar Panels at Three Locations

G&C AutoBody, with 7 locations in northern California, is spending $2.09 million installing photovoltaic power arrays on three of its seven locations to write off the whole project cost in one year under a special 2011 tax incentive for capital investments, according to reports made by the North Bay Business Journal.

The multiple-shop operation, which is Northern California’s largest collision repair chain north of the Golden Gate Bridge, intends to have installed a $1.3 million system on its Santa Rosa main offices and shop and a $450,000 array on its Petaluma store by the beginning of 2012. This past summer a $340,000 system was installed on a year-old location in Windsor, CA. (See Autobody News March 2011 Edition).

With several federal and state incentives on renewable-energy projects, the 100 percent bonus depreciation federal deduction for “qualified property” projects in 2011 and the potential to offset electricity costs, the three solar projects were a bargain, according to Gene Crozat, president and founder. He’s planning for energy costs to rise significantly in coming years as greenhouse-gas emissions-control measures kick in.

“If you’re a business that uses any electricity, you’re crazy if you don’t take advantage of this,” he told the North Bay Business Journal.

The federal business energy investment tax credit applies to 30 percent of the cost of solar projects completed in the next few years. The state offers a 10 percent performance incentive payable over 60 months.

Because of the potential operational cost savings, solar arrays are now being considered for G&C’s Novato and Rohnert Park stores, which opened this year are under long-term leases, according to Crozat.

“If you do not pay a lot in taxes, solar can be a waste of money,” said Shawn Crozat, chief operating officer. “But if you do, you can take the tax money and reinvest it into the company.”

G&C AutoBody had $20 million in revenues last year and is anticipating receipts of $30 million this year. The solar projects have tapped the company’s planned capital spending for the fourth quarter.

However, the company in the first quarter of next year wants to acquire two more auto body shops. That includes one in Napa Valley and another elsewhere in the North Bay currently in purchase negotiations.

The special bonus depreciation deduction has been helpful for businesses because it applies to a number of modified accelerated cost-recovery system (MACRS) classes of new business property—equipment with depreciation schedules of less than 20 years and software normally depreciable over three years and commercial real estate tenant improvements, according to Greg Smith, a Santa Rosa-based CPA whose clients include G&C AutoBody.

“These leasehold improvements are being done in a big way,” he said.

Energy Solar of Cloverdale installed the arrays on G&C’s Petaluma and Windsor shops. Mill Valley-based startup Clean Focus Energy is installing the system in Santa Rosa.

Gene Crozat has always maintained that if any other body shop owners want to visit his facilities to see what he’s doing and glean information from his business model, he’s anxious and pleased to help them in any way he can.

“People don’t believe it when I say it, but there have never been secrets or closed doors around here. I won’t be in this business forever and if I can make the industry better overall, it will benefit my children and my grandchildren down the road. Give me a call and I’ll do everything and anything I can to help you. I’ve done it many times before and that will never change,” said Gene Crozat to Autobody News.

Call the Santa Rosa shop at: 707-525-3520.

Visit www.gandcautobody.com for more information.