Frank’s Auto Body in Madison Township, OH, Finishes Construction of New, Larger Shop

Frank’s Auto Body in Madison Township, OH, Finishes Construction of New, Larger Shop

The completion date for construction of the new Frank’s Auto Body & Restoration building in Madison Township, OH, was pushed back several times over the past two years.

But owner Frank Latin was determined to have the building finished by Jan. 1 for a good reason.

“That’s because it’s a new Christmas present,” Latin said.

By mid-December, the gift Latin desired was delivered, in the form of a brand new 22,500-square foot building at 7277 North Ridge Road. The new edifice sits directly west of the 9,000-square foot shop at 7279 North Ridge, where Frank’s has conducted business for the past 18 years.

With a building nearly triple the size of its previous location, Frank’s will have more space and new, state-of-the art equipment to perform its services. Those specialties include collision repair and painting and refinishing of cars, trucks and some commercial vehicles; and restoration of antique and muscle cars.

“I spent a lot of time designing and planning the layout of this place so it flows pretty much seamlessly, and there’s no bottlenecks, or anything like that,” Latin said.

It was back in 2010 when Latin purchased the property where his new building eventually was constructed.

“We knew sooner or later at the pace we were going, that we were going to be running out of room,” he said. “So for future development, we bought that.”

Site preparation for the new shop began in early 2019 and construction kicked off in September 2020.

Although Latin initially had estimated the new shop would be built by July 2021, delays arose because of two factors stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first problem was a shortage of available labor. Latin said he had a tough time finding contractors to do various jobs involved in constructing his building.

“And the guys that wanted to work were so dang busy,” he said. “They’re like, ‘Maybe next year?’ And I said, ‘No, no. We need it done now.’”

The global supply-chain crisis also slowed progress on construction of the new Frank’s Auto Body & Restoration shop.

“A lot of manufacturing has gone to on-demand,” Latin said. “They don’t have the manpower to make extra, so they just make whatever the consumer orders (and deliveries can take longer).”

High inflation rates over the past two years also drove up the cost of the building project. Latin originally had estimated the price of constructing the new shop at about $2.2 million, but that figure now stands at around $2.8 million.

However, in January 2021, Frank’s Auto Body & Restoration also received some financial assistance with the project from the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority. The state agency’s board awarded Frank’s a $20,000 grant on $340,000 worth of clean-air equipment for the new building.

Those upgrades included two downdraft spray booths and a paint mixing room for the new shop. Both the booths and mixing room will be outfitted with state-of-the-art technology that will improve air quality.

Having equipment that’s modern and more efficient will help the shop not only to meet environmental requirements, but also to be more competitive, as well, Latin said.

“That’s because we’ll be able to (finish painting) more vehicles in a shorter amount of time,” he said. “So we’re actually going to generate some (additional) job openings.”

In fact, Frank’s is accepting applications from people who’d like to join its highly motivated team of auto body and restoration specialists.

Another reason Latin wanted to build a larger shop was to be able to service more commercial vehicles, such as larger trucks, minibuses and school and commercial buses.

“With the commercial vehicles, obviously they’re bigger and take up more space,” he said. “So we need a taller building and more room.”

The new shop marks the third location for Frank’s Auto Body & Restoration in its nearly 30-year history.

Latin started the business in 1993 at a rented building in Madison Township, not far from his existing site. Eleven years later, he built the shop at 7279 North Ridge.

Whatever space it has occupied, Latin said Frank’s has maintained an unswerving commitment to customer service.

“We treat the customer like we’d like to be treated,” he said. “We really don’t really work for the insurance company, we work for the customer. So if you bring me your car, you’re the person I’m working for, because it’s your vehicle. I’d like to fix it like it was my own vehicle, or my wife’s vehicle.”

Latin said spearheading a major construction project for the past two years has felt like a full-time job in itself.

“Luckily I had good office staff (at the previous building) that could watch the day-to-day production (of auto body work) and I could just oversee it from a distance,” he said. “Now, I’ll get back to being in the captain’s chair and guiding the business the rest of the way.”

We thank The News-Herald for reprint permission.

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