A body shop owner friend of mine texted me the other day, asking me to call him because he had some news for me. I figured it was yet another charity event or good deed he was doing for his community, but no, Richard Henegar Jr. told me he was closing up shop.
BodyShop Business has done several stories on Richard’s generosity, including the refurbishing of a gay teen’s vehicle which had been vandalized with homophobic slurs. That one got him on the The Ellen DeGeneres Show. So it was distressing to me to hear why he and his dad were calling it quits.
It was nothing I hadn’t heard before: ridiculously low labor rates, increasing costs (“$2,000 per month in estimating software!” Henegar exclaimed), the push for cheap repairs over quality repairs from insurance companies, “mafia-style” insurance tactics, the inability to find qualified techs, etc.
“It just isn’t worth it anymore,” Richard said.
And I felt sad to see one of the good ones go.
Richard’s plans? He and his wife are going to go “off the grid” to their remote property for awhile and figure things out. One thing he knows is that he wants to give back to the industry that has given so much to him. He feels the best way to do that is to become a teacher at a local vo-tech school.
Richard said he refused to play the game of “quality” repairs fast at a low cost. “You just can’t do truly high quality repairs fast,” he said. And he related the story of one adjuster who, when Richard asked him why he should fix cars at the labor rate he wanted, said, “Because the body shop down the street will.”
Richard, I hope you do stick around this industry in some capacity. We need more guys like you.