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Shop to hold open house on May 9, 2015 to show its thanks to the community as well as show people the collision repair process.
The shop is going to display special interest cars and hot rods it has completed over the years, as well as vehicles being repaired on frame racks and in spraybooths. The shop will also offer music, food and drinks, door prizes and giveaways as a thank you to the community.
“We want to encourage the public to attend to see what our operation is all about,” said owner/president Bill McElroy.
McElroy showed an interest in cars (and everything else on wheels) from an early age, beginning to tinker with them at 15. His first car was a 1955 Chevrolet fixer upper, which he worked on in his parents’ garage. From there, he started working on neighbors’ and friends’ cars.
After a brief stint in the Army, McElroy signed his first lease in 1975 to open Bill McElroy Auto Body in a 300-year-old, three-bay barn with no running water or plumbing and a cardboard box for his files.
Three years later, he leased another building nearby that accommodated seven bays where they had to paint behind a curtain for awhile. By 1981, he owned the building, enabling him to take over two additional bays that had initially been rented. At that time, he enlisted his brother, Mike, to run the office.
McElroy added a front office and reception area to the building and then rented an adjacent building in 1989 that gave him five more bays and three additional employees. A year later, he gutted the building and added a state-of-the-art refinish area with a downdraft booth, computerized paint mixing room and infrared heaters, as well as new floors, roof, electric, lighting, plumbing and cutouts for additional overhead doors.
Business boomed in the 1990s, so McElroy continued to expand, adding office space and technicians. At the time, his side business of specialty vehicle restoration and hot rod work was taking a backseat to more profitable DRP work. In 1995, another adjacent building became available, so he leased and then purchased it in 2001. The two most recent buildings gave him 120 feet of total frontage, which gave him impressive street exposure.
Due to McElroy’s growth, many internal changes occurred including adding five office computer work stations and touch screens in the production areas for techs to access information and clock their repair jobs. He implemented a more organized tool area and upgraded his frame, welding, refinish, drying and air supply systems to keep up with the latest automotive technology. Computer hardware and software upgrades were constant as well.
Today, at 40 years old, the shop’s staff is at 14 personnel, five metal techs, two painters, two painter’s helpers, one detailer and four office staff. The shop has 9,200 square feet of total space with 22 bays.
Bill and Janice McElroy are the owners, and Bill’s son, Bill Jr., has come up through the ranks and is now a manager with the potential to become owner some day.
“We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished over the years and are committed to continuing to operate a successful auto body repair business,” said McElroy. “Our success is simply the fruits of hard work, integrity, being honest and giving our customer more than they expect. We just do what it takes, and our motto is, ‘Quality is our No. 1 Priority.’
“There have been good years and bad years, but our company has survived because of our commitment to a quality product, dedication to customer service, basic core values and integrity of our entire staff. Our staff has been very stable, with more than half being here for up to 20-plus years. Our company’s continued success could not be accomplished without our dedicated people.”