Richmond shop builds facility from ground up to build exposure and business
Richmond, Calif.—Whenever any business builds a new location from the ground up, there are a lot of things that can go wrong. But, by working closely with the contractor and assisting them to keep on schedule, Accurate Auto Body, owned by the Cichon and Silva family, opened its new 27,000-square-foot facility in November and had it up and running sooner than anticipated.
Opened in 1984 by Ed Cichon, this second-generation shop is now operated by Tiffany Silva, his daughter the shop’s co-owner and the current treasurer for the California Autobody Association (CAA), as well as being president of the organization’s East Bay Chapter. Her husband, Dan Silva, started working at the shop in 1986 and she joined the business five years later.
Finding a location with high visibility was important to Silva. “We’re located directly on the Richmond Parkway now and we’ve heard that roughly 100,000 cars pass us daily,” she said. “It’s a major commute route and people can easily see our sign. Two benefits are that we always don’t have to be giving people directions over the phone and we’re even getting people coming here and dropping off resumes almost every day.”
New tool and equipment purchases were also invested in, such as a REVO Rapid Accelerated Curing System. “There is a small garage within one of our booths, and when you open the door the little REVO robot comes out and cures the vehicle using infrared curing, drying a panel inside and out in 50 to 14 minutes. It’s more designed for three-panel repair and not ideal for a complete paint job, but it is pretty amazing. We went into the booth with a vehicle at noon and had to paint a new door for it while blending another door and a quarter panel, and that car went home at 5 p.m. — baked, polished, reassembled and delivered to the customer and all without sacrificing any quality. We invested in it, with the idea of it paying for itself by decreasing cycle time and increasing production. We also have the REVO Speed in the prep station which is on a track system that allows it to move to the car and cures the primer instantly. We can then get it immediately into the booth to be refinished and it’s no longer a two-day process to prime and paint the vehicle.”
Accurate also purchased several vehicle lifts manufactured by Herkules. “We have six of them and now they’re in every one of our metal technician’s stations,” Silva said. “One of the best things about them is that now our older techs can have the vehicle elevated to a comfortable working height and keeping them off the ground.”
Building a facility from the ground up has its own challenges, and Silva is relieved that the process went so well. “Seven months ago, we were a dirt lot and now we have this wonderful facility, so the construction had very few issues,” she said. “The real benefit is that we were able to design the layout and set everything up exactly the way we wanted rather than having to adapt to the space.”
Accurate Auto Body repairs approximately 140 cars monthly with a crew of 22. “Our first month in this location was a record breaker and now March beat that sales number,” Silva said. “Having a professional-looking facility will help us with our customers and DRPs.”
The shop works closely with local tech schools to get new collision professionals on her crew, and Contra Costa College (CCC), which Silva sits on the advisory board for has become an excellent source for that, Silva said. “I have five technicians from their program and they’re all very good, because they have the skills and are willing to learn. We make training a priority here, because we need to stay current, especially with today’s newer vehicles.”
In three years, Silva will be the state president of CAA to continue her legacy of her service to the industry she grew up in. “CAA has helped us and all other shops in the state, and that’s why I want to make it even a stronger association,” she said. “Our Executive Director David McClune recently retired, so we are entering a new, exciting time, but change is good and inevitable in this industry. The technology is changing rapidly and we want to be there at the forefront as it happens.”
With five women in the front office including herself, Silva is proud of her entire crew, but especially happy to be working with a group of empowered women, Silva said. “There is no limit now for what women can achieve in this industry right now, but it wasn’t that way when I started. We have an estimator, parts person, customer service rep and an office manager who are women here. I haven’t found a female technician yet, but I am always looking for one.”