Long-Time Business Starts New Chapter with Second Generation Owners - BodyShop Business

Long-Time Business Starts New Chapter with Second Generation Owners

Sponsored by CARSTAR

Heather Cullaton learned the benefit of giving back from their father, Fred Haberl, longtime CARSTAR franchise partner in Lakeland, FL. She works with the Boy Scouts, her church, NABC Recycled Rides and other community programs. On this particular day, she finds herself at a 4H show, buying a pig for a student to grow and show.

“Giving back takes many forms, and helping a student learn about farming and taking care of animals is a great life skill and potential career,” she said with a laugh. “But picking out a pig is certainly not something I do every day.”

What she does do is take care of hundreds of customers and manage the repairs of their vehicles across two collision repair facilities – CARSTAR Autobody Resurrection and CARSTAR Autobody Resurrection Lakeland South. This June, she and her brother Peter Haberl will take over the leadership for both locations when their father retires.

Fred Haberl opened his collision repair business in Lakeland, FL, in 1986, and joined CARSTAR in 2003 as one of the early franchise partners. Since then, he has served the Lakeland community with the highest-quality collision repairs, excellent customer service – and a passion for giving back.

“Doing well by doing good has always been part of our business philosophy,” said Cullaton, who grew up working in the business. “Growing up, we were taught to treat the customer right, go above and beyond to deliver an excellent vehicle repair, and give back to the community that supports us.”

That philosophy has served them well. The original facility – CARSTAR Autobody Resurrection – has grown and expanded over the years, acquiring additional buildings to accommodate their burgeoning business. Today, that facility handles a large volume of EV repairs and Peter Haberl and his team have adapted the buildings for that need.

During that growth and right before COVID, Fred Haberl decided to open a new location in South Lakeland to serve the growing community there. After several construction challenges and delays, the facility opened in the spring of 2022. The modern facility features a large, bright customer lobby, meeting areas where customers can review their repair plan with their repair representative, and work space for repair partners visiting the facility. There is a dedicated area for the parts department, a training room, and expansive repair area that allows vehicles to efficiently flow from check-in to dis-assembly to prep, painting, re-assembly and detailing. An Accudraft Titan paint booth helps keep production flowing.

Now that the new facility is up and running, Peter and Fred have taken on the task of upgrading the original facility through fascia changes, lighting, parts storage organization, classroom and training upgrades as they service higher-end vehicles such as Tesla, Audi, VW, Jaguar, Land Rover and Alfa Romeo.

“Working in the original location taught me a lot about what we needed in a ground-up facility,” said Cullaton. “When you can layout out the building to match your repair process, it makes everything so much more efficient. You can save time and money when you aren’t having to move cars from station to station or store them between steps in the repair process.”

Something else Cullaton learned was the value of giving back to others, from helping encourage students in their education, providing job opportunities for those in need or helping provide reliable transportation for families.

“Today, we continue to work with multiple organizations for veterans, Boy Scouts, FFA and agriculture programs and also provide apprenticeship programs to our local technical schools,” she noted. “We want to introduce this industry to students and inspire them to pursue a career in it.”

Cullaton stepped away from the family business for a bit to run a towing company she owns, but was drawn back to work with her family as her children showed interest in collision repair. She still operates the towing company and services customers throughout the Lakeland area.

That spirit of dedication and hard work was also learned from her father, who still reviews every estimate and repair to make sure the customer is getting the best repair possible.

Looking ahead, the family is dividing up leadership responsibilities to prepare for the next four decades of serving the community. Peter Haberl will manage the original location with a focus on training and production, while Heather and her husband Patrick, along with their sons Bradley, who is the lead painter, and Corey, who is a Tesla technician, will manage the new location.

Together, they are proud to continue their father’s legacy, even when the occasional pig is involved.

Visit www.CARSTAR.com for more information. To learn more about CARSTAR franchising opportunities, click here to fill out the form to meet with a member of the team.

Sponsored by CARSTAR.

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