North Dakota Body Shop Brothers Embrace Family-First Mindset
Published May 17, 2023
As the saying goes, the families that repair together, stay together. At least that’s how the saying goes for Jeremy and Matt Buller, brothers and owners of three North Dakota Abra Auto Body locations: Abra Auto Body Bismarck, Abra Auto Body Mandan and Abra Minot.
Family isn’t just about the two of them. It’s also about Abra’s overarching approach to growing the business with top talent in place.
Matt and Jeremy’s interest in the industry began when they would fix cars on their family farm during their childhood. What began as an enjoyable pastime to make a few bucks turned into a full-fledged career. In their adolescence, Matt honed his management skills and Jeremy studied auto collision, mechanics and business in college. The brothers’ knack for collaboration ultimately led to them becoming co-owners of their first location in 2015.
“We really like the support [of Abra] and feeling of togetherness,” said Jeremy Buller. “Abra’s leadership is always going the extra mile, making sure we get the best discounts with vendors, relationships with insurance companies, industry best practices, and more. This makes it possible to focus on leading our shops locally, ensuring that they are the best in the area and wowing customers.”
Growing the Business
Owning and operating one store is no easy feat, let alone three. In just eight years, the Buller brothers were able to grow to owning three stores in North Dakota, and each came with its own unique lesson.
From immediately expanding their first location, to taking over an existing shop with their second, and to travelling 90 miles to open their third shop in 2022, each location taught the brothers different things that have ultimately built a robust portfolio for growth.
“We are incredibly grateful for the local insurance agents and operations coaches who welcomed us with open arms!” said Jeremy Buller. “Our talented coaches were able to ease our onboarding process to make the complicated task of insurance DRP set-up and I-CAR gold certification as easy as it can be.”
The Buller brothers are always looking for ways to improve operations and most recently have decided to pursue a Tesla certification. This decision was in part caused by the industry’s increased emphasis on OEM protocols.
“In the past, it felt like OEM certifications were simply a marketing strategy,” said Jeremy Buller. “Over time, OEMs have come to realize that there are independent body shops and MSOs out there that are actually more intentional about repairing cars correctly than some of their own dealership body shops.”
Evolving with Technology
No industry stays the same for too long and the automotive industry is no exception. Throughout their years in the industry, the Buller brothers have become no stranger to changes in cars themselves and the tools used to repair them.
“When I went to college, repairs were still more about straightening, repairing and just replacing metal. Now, cars are about so much more than that,” said Jeremy Buller. “The evolution of repair tools has certainly helped to improve the accuracy of repair technicians.”
Advancements to computers and specifically their capabilities within a vehicle have also led to marked changes within the industry.
“Vehicles are capable of more onboard diagnostics than ever before, and this is only continuing to evolve in this sector,” said Jeremy Buller. “For example, a Tesla doesn’t need a scan tool or any other outside electronics to scan or program it. All the hardware and software are integrated into the car and by putting the car into service mode, the car is its own scan tool. A Tesla is a supercomputer on wheels that is leading the industry in terms of technology. We can no longer just write an estimate and fix a car. We must study the technology the vehicle has and understand what must be done throughout and post repairs.”
Scanning vehicles is an integral part of the repair process that allows the repairs to fully diagnose any problems with a vehicle and to ensure any repair work has been completed efficiently and effectively.
“Fortunately, we have scan tools out there to help us with pre and post scans as well as calibrations,” continued Jeremy Buller. “We also have tools like Pro Spot that make factory-looking welds while recording every weld to ensure quality. In fact, it won’t even complete the weld unless the conditions are good enough!”
Community is Key
Outside of providing the community with exceptional service, the Buller brothers do their part to stay involved and host an annual summer event they call Abra Community Day. This summer’s event will be held Aug. 12.
“Each summer, we host our own car show at our Bismarck location as a joint effort with a local church and bank,” said Jeremy Buller. “We hope to create a great community event with all the proceeds going to a local charity of the community’s choosing. In addition to the car show, we have an RC airplane show, a kid’s corner and vendor show.”
For more information, visit www.abraauto.com.