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Car West Auto Body’s newly opened sixth shop in Fremont, Calif., was dubbed the "Bellagio of Body Shops" by one of the 400 guests at its grand opening on March 25. But Car West CEO Craig Moe says investing $9 million in the 80,000-square-foot facility was anything but a gamble.
“We’re quite confident,” Moe said. “We had the need for another location to relieve some of the pressure off of our shop in Dublin, Calif. We were running that shop almost 24 hours a day, around the clock, to keep up with all the work we had coming in. We made the decision before the economy turned to buy the Fremont facility and do the build-out.”
The recent success at Car West’s other five Northern California locations helped make the new shop a safe bet: “Last year, we were up almost 13 percent in same-store volume from the prior year, and the prior year was up 25 percent. We’re not really feeling the pinch,” Moe said.
Moe believes Car West Fremont’s combination of a lavish atmosphere for customers and a functional, modern workspace for employees will ensure that the shop thrives. He projects that once the shop is running at full potential, it will bring in between $12 and $13 million annually and employ between 50 and 60 people.
Some of the shop’s bells and whistles aimed at customers include: a lobby waterfall, plush waiting areas with flat-screen TVs and fireplaces, a business center with computers and Internet access, a Starbucks coffee bar, and Hertz and Enterprise rental car offices on-site.
The lean-based body shop accommodates employees with training facilities and a locker room. A parts mezzanine above the shop floor is equipped with a conveyor belt to haul parts up and an elevator to bring loaded parts carts to the shop floor. Car West also installed brand-new equipment, including everything needed to spray waterborne basecoats. Moe noted that all of Car West’s employees have participated in PPG’s MVP Green Belt Training program to learn about the lean process.
“I don’t want to get left in the dust, so I try to get the best of everything,” Moe said.
The huge building also ensures steady income for Car West about 28,000 square feet of the facility will be leased to other automotive businesses, including a detailing shop, tow truck operator, paint shop and glass repair company.
Car West Fremont’s grand opening was March 25, and roughly 400 people attended.
“The best comment we got all night was when one person called it ‘the Bellagio of body shops,’” Moe said.
Moe noted that Car West has “dozens” of DRP relationships, which vary by shop location. For more information about Car West, visit www.carwestautobody.com.