Brothers succeed again with second venture, expansion on the horizon
Longmont, Colo.—Tomas and Alberto Quiroz immigrated to the U.S. to seek better lives for themselves, and soon found opportunity in the collision repair business.
“My brother and I came to this country and my first job was a strawberry picker, so to have been able to achieve this kind of success has been very fulfilling,” Alberto Quiroz said.
Just five years after selling their first collision repair shop, the joint owners of Longmont Auto Body & Glass decided to begin again. But this time, instead of their own ambition driving them, it was their family and friends and a little luck that got them going.
“After my brother and I sold our first shop we had a non-compete clause so we both went back to work – Tomas went to Boulder Nissan and I worked for a local collision shop in town – but it wasn’t long before our family and friends were asking us to do small repairs here and there on their cars, telling us they missed us and wanted us back,” Alberto Quiroz said.
To satisfy their fans, they ended up renting a single bay in an 8,800-square-foot shop in 2014 with access to a paint booth. Alberto Quiroz said it was just a side business to begin with and he didn’t really want to leave his job, but when the property manager approached them about an opportunity to occupy the entire shop, when a neighboring tenants lease was scheduled to end, Tomas was ready.
“Tomas got everything up and running and I would come work in the afternoons to help out, but didn’t come on full time until October of 2015,” Alberto said.
The two brothers have been hard at it ever since. They now have 15 full-time employees and are repairing approximately 50 cars per month. The shop is on its way to becoming I-CAR Gold recognized, and currently has two I-CAR Platinum body technicians on staff. It’s also working to become certified through Verifacts Automotive Excellence, which Tomas Quiroz said will help them earn manufacturer certifications.
“Verifacts sends trainers down to work with us hand in hand on repairs and ensure we’re doing each job correctly and repairing to pre-loss conditions,” he said. “We see manufacturer certifications as the way forward and are working, right now, to become Ford, GM and Toyota certified, then go from there.”
Alberto Quiroz said the shop has partnered with Weld County Garage to help achieve its goal of becoming GM certified – he sends employees to training seminars at the dealership regularly and also relies on them for parts and GM repair information – but one of its staple partners has been NAPA. Longmont Auto Body & Glass is a NAPA AutoCare Collision Center and relies on them as the supplier of its Martin Senour TechBase paint, but also for what Alberto Quiroz described as a “competitive edge.”
“In the grand scheme of things, we’re still a small independent shop, so it’s difficult to compete with large corporate conglomerates,” he said. “Partnering with NAPA gives us the ability to offer our customers the nationwide NAPA AutoCare Collision and Refinish Warranty and we also get incentives on the parts, paint and equipment purchases. The NAPA branding has been a powerful sales tool for us because every customer knows they’re backed, not just by us, but by a national network.”
NAPA also assisted the brothers with co-op funds to paint their shop – covering 50 percent of the cost – and built the shop’s website.
Tomas added that the shop is a DRP for Hanover, Ameriprise, Innovation and The General insurance companies, choosing them for their fair dealings and good customer service for their policy holders. The shop’s two estimators are currently using CCC and Audatex to prepare estimates and AllData as an information database.
Investing in the future and planning for expansion
With an eye on the future, Tomas and Alberto have been investing heavily in equipment, not only for the shop they currently work out of, but also the one they plan to move into next year.
“At the end of last year, we invested in one-and-a-half acres of land in Frederick where we’re building a new 15,000-square-foot facility,” Alberto Quiroz said. “We plan to officially move in by the end of next year.”
That being the case, the brothers recently attended the SEMA Show for training, but also to shop for equipment. They purchased a ProSpot SP5 welder and a Nitro Bumper Repair Station and, earlier this year, set up an aluminum repair station in their current facility. Alberto Quiroz said that over the past year, the shop has focused on upgrading its tools and equipment and on gaining as much knowledge as possible with consistent training.
“We want to be prepared,” he said. “The training and tools are all part of doing business, as is treating your employees like family. We basically started this shop from scratch so we’ve had to invest in just about everything from our staff to a new air compressor and Launch scan tool.”
The new facility will have upstairs offices, a covered driveway where people will be able to easily transfer items from their damaged vehicle to a rental car without getting rained or snowed on, and most importantly, about 7,000 more square feet. Alberto said for right now the shop will continue to focus on training and seeking OE certifications, but added he feels blessed to be where he’s at.
“We’re excited to for the future and we feel prepared for it.”