Sun Valley family says 20-group helps take business to the next level

John Panduro (c.) founded J & L Body Shop in the mid-1980s, but its day-to-day operation is now managed by his children, Danny (l.) and Sandy.

Sun Valley, Calif.—Danny Panduro says that joining a shop 20-group through the DuPont Performance Alliance has given him renewed energy as manager of his family’s business, J & L Body Shop Inc.

 

“For the first eight or nine years that I was working here, I really was just working within the walls of this place,” said Panduro, who joined his father John Panduro’s company in 2002 after earning an economics and business management degree from University of California (UC) - Irvine. “That starts to wear on you. You don’t know what’s going on outside of your business. You start to accept all the inefficiencies that your business has. You see no other way of doing it. A 20-group helps you understand that the inefficiencies in your business don’t have to be there. There are other ways to do it. That’s what makes it exciting.”

 

Panduro has nothing but praise for the 20-group and its facilitator, Mike Anderson, of CollisionAdvice. Panduro said some of the changes he’s implemented in the past 16 months with Anderson and the group’s assistance have been relatively simple. He moved the shop’s parts area, for example, from the very back of the shop to a more centrally located bay, reducing the time employees have to spend getting parts to their work area, he said. The shop is also painting (they spray Dupont Cromax Pro) more parts off of vehicles, at times being able to have a vehicle get structural work done while its parts are being refinished, Panduro said.

 

Other changes are more all-encompassing, such as shifting toward 100-percent tear down and documenting all needed parts and repairs before a vehicle moves into production, he said.

 

“The goal is once we commit ourselves to putting that vehicle into production, it doesn’t stop and just moves through the process,” Panduro said. “That’s easier said than done, and it’s always a work in progress. But we’re getting a lot better at that.”

 

While Danny Panduro oversees the shop’s production, his sister, Sandy Panduro, works to improve the office side of the business, from marketing and administration to billing, accounting, and human resources. One of her goals for streamlining, she said, is improving cash flow by making sure job files are ready to close the day a vehicle leaves.

 

“That seems to be something insurers appreciate as well, because I’ve seen the payment process get a lot smoother this past year than even just the year before,” Sandy Panduro said.

 

Also a college graduate, she began working with her father when he opened the shop in a small building in North Hollywood in 1986. In the mid-1990s, she left for “corporate life” in business development and advertising for about a decade, but returned to the family business seeing an opportunity was there for its growth.

 

“We want everybody within five miles of our shop to know who we are,” Sandy Panduro said. “We’ll be working on branding and recognition. But right now our focus is on streamlining our production to make sure things are set up to handle the influx of work.”

 

Sandy Panduro’s marketing efforts include pledging to give donations to the local high schools based on work that comes in to the shop through families with students at the schools. She said the company also sponsors a scholarship at a local high school in memory of another brother who worked in the business prior to his death.

 

“It’s given to a high school varsity football player who best exemplifies his spirit,” Danny Panduro said.

 

For about the past decade, J&L has occupied two 8,000-square-foot buildings facing each other on a 40,000-square-foot lot. Well equipped in terms of frame and measuring equipment and two downdraft spray booths (a Spray Zone and an Accudraft Titan), the shop recently replaced its older wheel alignment equipment with a Hunter Engineering machine.

 

“My dad has always been a big fan of making sure we invest back into the business,” Danny Panduro said. “We try to have the equipment and ability to do most work, including wheel alignment and all of our mechanical work, in-house. That allows us, for example, as part of our marketing, to offer a free oil change to customers on their birthday.”

 

The Panduros speak highly of the company’s dozen employees.

 

“I have a huge respect for what these men and women do for us day in and day out,” Danny Panduro said. “It’s a tough job. I talk to my wife all the time about how we have a huge responsibility to keep these people employed. Some people may say, ‘They’re just employees,’ but I like to think we have a pretty close-knit group of people here at the shop.”

 

Sandy Panduro agreed, “It’s like I heard (radio show host) Dave Ramsey say the other day, ‘Remember, they’re humans, not units of labor.’”

 

Though John Panduro is still at the shop regularly, his two children clearly take seriously their responsibility in running the day-to-day operations and moving their father’s business forward.

 

“It’s exciting for us to take what our dad built and take it to the next level,” Sandy Panduro said.

 

Danny Panduro said, “It’s really cool to not lose track of the mom-and-pop feel, but to also try to bring more of a business background and identity to the business. It started with him, and this place really is him. We still have customers coming in asking and looking for him. I don’t forget that we have a great opportunity here because my parents basically built that opportunity for us. Whenever I have a bad day, I stop and think about what my parents started with and where we are today.”