Auto body repair shop says it plans to open more North Bay facilities
SANTA ROSA — G&C AutoBody is on track to a have a 50 percent increase in revenue this year to $30 million with the opening of three new shops along the Highway 101 corridor.
The new locations in Windsor and Novato and one set to open this summer in Rohnert Park are projected to increase gross revenue from $20 million last year, according to founder and President Gene Crozat, 68. The company now has six locations in Windsor, Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Novato and two in San Rafael. A Rohnert Park shop is set to open this summer.
“It’s not out-of-control growth,” he said. “I structured my business knowing that the economy will get worse.”
That structure includes mostly using cash and volume buying to get paint and parts at a discount, having his repair technicians as independent contractors and leveraging U.S. Small Business Administration-backed low-interest loans for property and equipment acquisitions. It also has included bonuses for meeting targets on third-party customer-satisfaction surveys.
Ground-up construction on the Windsor location at 10661 Old Redwood Hwy. was completed in December after two years of entitlement and construction permitting challenges.
The Novato store at 14 Galli Dr. involved the purchase of the shop and equipment of Complete Auto Body, and it opened as G&C in March, following $700,000 in remodeling and upgrades.
The Rohnert Park location at 5180 Commerce Blvd. was approved in August 2009 for an autobody business called Sonoma County Collision Center, but improvements weren’t completed. G&C received approval late last year for a shop with four repair bays and three for painting and a building with a stone facade to soften the previous industrial steel look. The nine-employee store is set to open this summer.
Architect Robert Moore of Santa Rosa designed the project, and Pacatte Construction is the general contractor.
The plan is to open a couple of shops a year. An analysis of the proportion of revenue by client city found that only 4 percent of residents from Windsor and north were taking their vehicles to G&C’s Santa Rosa shop, and only 6 percent of Novato residents were going to the San Rafael store, according to Shawn Crozat, 31, chief operating officer.
Industry estimates put the business capacity of U.S. autobody shops at $90 billion, but the recession has cut revenue to only about $30 billion, according to Shawn Crozat.
“When the economy got bad, many were taking cashouts from insurance companies rather than fixing their cars,” Shawn Crozat said. If insured drivers own their vehicles, they can opt for the money from the insurance claim.
G&C AutoBody has been preparing for two years for further growth of the company, according to Shawn Crozat. That included an official training program, run by his brother Joshua Crozat, 30, for estimators and technicians. The company also contracted with a third-party customer survey company to conduct 200 to 300 interviews a month. The responses have helped the operation reduce its average repair time to six days from the California average of 14 days.
“Three or four years ago, we weren’t as consistent,” Shawn Crozat said. “If we go into a market and insurance companies know they get better cycle times, it makes them want to spend money on us.”
For more information, contact G&C AutoBody at 707-525-3520 or visit www.gandcautobody.com.
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