From left: Erick Estrada, co-owner, Veronica Someza, parts locator, and Erick’s father and co-owner, Federico “Fast Freddie” Estrada, focus on body and paint services and outsources other repairs.Federico Estrada mixes a batch of Sherwin Williams ATX paint using the shop’s computerized mixing system.Luis Peralta, who Estrada says was totally green a few months ago, is now capable of doing many jobs on his own.Veteran body technician Jonas Jimenez sands the finished repair on a late-model pickup before it goes into the paint booth.Erick Estrada paints the tailgate lettering on a 1969 Chevy C-10 pickup. Proshine uses a custom rear-exhaust paint booth and sprays Sherwin-Williams ATX solventborne, low-VOC paint products.

Proshine concentrates on core competencies and networks with specialty shops

Ontario body shop focuses on strengths and partners with area new-car dealerships

Ontario, Calif.—Not every body shop has the same business model. Most want to do everything in-house, but some want to focus on what they do best and develop a network of professionals for the rest of the work.

“When my dad, Federico Estrada, who they call ‘Fast Freddie’ because he paints so fast, opened the shop five years ago, his plan was to focus on doing body and paint work and subletting the rest of the work to nearby specialty shops,” said Erick Estrada, co-owner of Proshine Image in Ontario.

The senior Estrada, who is I-CAR-, PPG-, and BASF-certified, said before opening his own shop, he had a mobile repair service, and worked at other large collision shops as a paint and body technician. He knew that they made the most profit on body and paint services, so he put together a crew with those competencies.

“Then, I located nearby shops for the rest of the work, including Brother’s Auto Center for mechanical and electrical parts and service, State Frame Shop for frame work and alignment, Chico’s Mobile Auto Glass for all windshield and window glass replacement and window electrical repair, and Cal Blast when we need any kind of media blasting.”

 Estrada also wanted to concentrate on heavy hits from new car dealers’ lease returns and used car departments, used car dealers and wholesalers, rather than insurance work, so he reached out to local auto sales businesses.

“Currently, we do work for Certified Motors, Jauregui Imports, Fiesta Motors, STG, The Motor Car Group, Uber Cars, and QNQ Auto Sales,” Erick Estrada said.

Before joining his father at Proshine a little over a year ago, Estrada said he had done specialty painting for such companies as Mattel and Disney, and classic restoration, which he said represents now 25 percent of the shop’s business; collision is 75 percent.

“We just finished a 1969 Chevy C-10 pickup, which took about three months to complete, and today we got a Camaro from Arizona that will probably take six months because the owner wants us to strip the car to metal before repairing and painting it.”

The shop sprays ATX solventborne low-VOC paint, which it buys from Sherwin-Williams, and uses the ATX mixing system.

Estrada said Sherwin-Williams provided training on the ATX paint system and warranties the paint for life when all materials used are from the paint manufacturer. 

The shop has a custom rear-exhaust paint booth, which Estrada said works well for spraying solventborne paint. They have also added a dust control system.

In the past two years, the Proshine’s business has grown around 30 percent, which is primarily due to word-of-mouth recommendations from previous customers, five-star Yelp and Yahoo reviews, plus Yelp Ads and Google Ads.

“We average 10-15 cars a week, which is up, and our average repair order is $800 to $1,500,” he said. “Our average cycle time is two to three days on smaller/bumper jobs, and five to seven days on heavy hits. We use Mitchell Connect for all estimates.”

The biggest challenge he faces is a lack of qualified body technicians, noting that even apprentices want top dollar and they’re not willing to learn the basics.

“We have had painters, who I call ‘applicators,’ apply for a job but they can’t prep or mask a car,” he said. “So we’re growing our own techs. I hired one young man, who was totally green six months ago and now we can let him loose on any body work.”

Because the shop does so much customer-pay work, Estrada said they are all about customer service and offer free shuttle service through Uber, free wash and wax, and free headlight restoration.

“There’s nothing like the customer seeing clear, shiny headlights to make them smile when they pick up their car. We even restore them for free if they become foggy again.” 

Estrada is presently looking at opening a second, larger shop in the area and offering additional services, including show-quality paint.

Parts & People

Parts & People is published monthly by Automotive Counseling and Publishing Company, Inc., a Colorado corporation, P.O. Box 18731 Denver, CO 80203, 303-765-4664. President-Lance Buchner. Founded by Lance Buchner and Dave Lucia.