Spreading their wings in Eagle Rock
Eagle Rock, Calif.—Rick’s Auto Body & Paint, owned by four Martirosyan brothers, Peter, Arman, Vahan, and Kevin, opened its first location in Silver Lake in 1998 and moved to a new, larger location in 2001. The second shop opened in Hollywood in 2012.
In April of this year, Rick’s purchased its third location, an established body shop in Eagle Rock called Competition Collision Center, Rick’s CEO, Kevin Martirosyan, said.
“Competition Collision had a good name and reputation in the area, so, for now, we’ve changed the name to Rick’s Competition Collision Center for brand recognition,” he said. “Once we’re finished remodeling and upgrading the equipment here, we’ll put up a new sign that will be Rick’s Auto Body & Paint.”
Each of the three locations sits on approximately 15,000-square-foot lots, with 6,500-square-foot repair facilities, Martirosyan said, and they’re all within five miles of one another.
The average repair order ranges from $2,800 to $3,000 and the car count varies from shop to shop, he said, but averages 40 to 50 a month at the first two shops and 30 a month at the third.
“We know the Eagle Rock car count will be higher once we are totally up and running,” he said. “But that’s not bad for a shop that’s working during remodeling.”
The Eagle Rock location is still a “work in progress,” in both décor and equipment, but when completed, it will be on a par with the other two locations that are I-CAR Gold Class and have several domestic and import OEM certifications and are Assured Performance Certified, Martirosyan said.
As an I-CAR Gold Class shop, collision technicians are required to take ongoing training every year through I-CAR, including classes on new vehicle technologies and the latest repair techniques.
“Our painters have also received both in-shop training from Axalta and training at the BASF Training Center in Buena Park,” he said. “Our paint suppliers are very supportive by providing quality products and technical support to minimize redos.”
The first two shops’ revenue has grown about 5-to-10 percent per year, and even though the Eagle Rock location is still new, Martirosyan said it will add 20 percent growth in the first year.
“We are building an aluminum repair station and clean room so we can also work on aluminum vehicles here,” Martirosyan said. “And we’ll soon be installing a Car-O-Liner BenchRack and anchoring system, a Car-O-Tronic computerized measuring system, and a CTR12000 inverter welder, from Victor Carranza, at Pacific Collision Equipment (PCE), who is also their training lead.”
The new location has two paint booths, one for prep and a heated down draft/cross draft Zhongda booth for body painting. Eagle Rock sprays Axalta Cromax paint, which it purchases from Larry Huckman, L.A. branch sales manager at FinishMaster, while the other two shops use BASF paint, bought from Larry Reshes at Colortone.
All pre-and post-collision repair scans are done in-house using the shop’s Snap-on Solis, Launch Tech X431-Pro, or Autel Maxisys scan tools. Common DTCs include airbags, steering and traction controls, and ABS, Martirosyan said. ADAS recalibrations are done by the appropriate dealership.
Strategies for increasing car count and new customers include a greater online presence and participating in community events, sponsorships such as high school sports team banners and ads in programs, and supporting charities.
Martirosyan said average cycle time is within industry standard or faster, though they occasionally have delays with back ordered parts on new makes and supplemental estimate approvals.
“Most insurance companies pressure customers to get drive-in estimates if vehicles are drivable and drop them off at the body shop when parts are ready to be installed,” he said. “They also don’t approve drop offs before or over the weekend. The downside to that is it creates an inconvenience for customers, and most cars require supplements after initial inspection, which takes extra time.”
The back story
Martirosyan said Peter was the first to start in the collision industry, as an apprentice at a body shop in the early 1990s and at night, took the Automotive Collision Repair & Painting program at Rio Hondo College, and received his certificate.
“In 1995, I joined Peter at the shop as an apprentice, delivering cars and cleaning up, then as a painters helper and finally a painter. I had no background in body and paint work before that. Then Arman and Vahan followed that path.”
Three years later, in 1998, Martirosyan said he managed to buy the brothers’ first small location, an established shop called Rick’s Auto Body. And, like the newest shop, it had a good reputation, so they kept it.