BodyShop Business 2023 Executives of the Year

BodyShop Business 2023 Executives of the Year

Greg Solesbee was named the Single-Shop Executive of the Year, and Charlie Drake was named the Multi-Shop Executive of the Year.

For the 39th consecutive year, BodyShop Business has recognized distinguished collision repair facility owners and managers with its Executive of the Year award.

The awards are given to true collision repair “visionaries” — individuals who have experienced great success by being forward-thinking, overcoming challenges and persevering. Winners are selected based on experience, special achievements and involvement within the local community and collision repair industry.

This year’s Single-Shop award winner is Greg Solesbee of CARSTAR Hayden in Hayden, Idaho, and the Multi-Shop winner is Charlie Drake of Classic Collision. They were both honored at the Collision Industry Red Carpet Awards Night in Las Vegas on Oct. 31, 2023.

Greg Solesbee

A Family Affair

Greg Solesbee has been working in the collision repair industry for 25 years. He began his career sweeping floors as a janitor for $1.25 an hour for his family’s collision repair business in Southern California.

The youngest of seven, Solesbee learned the value of hard work early in life. All of his siblings were older and worked in the family business, and he acted as their shadow, learning to pull bumpers and fix body panels. By 14, he was doing spot welds and his future was set. One day he found a beat-up 1967 Ford Mustang Fastback abandoned in the back of the shop and decided to restore it, continuing his automotive education and creating a ride to school.

After high school, Solesbee spent two years on a mission for his church and then returned to the family business, working in every position from technician to estimator to production manager and chief operating officer.

Going Out on His Own

Eventually, Solesbee decided he wanted to do his own thing, so he and his wife sold everything they had, packed up the family and headed to Idaho to open his own collision repair facility. An admitted adventure seeker and former motocross racer, the thrill of the unknown was part of the appeal.

Solesbee bought a CARSTAR license in 2015 and soon was rapidly growing his business by fixing cars the right way, which got him great word of mouth. His philosophy is “operate like a family, run like a business.” And he truly practices what he preaches, as his son Zachry is a parts manager for the business and his second oldest son, Colin, assists with hands-on mechanical and diagnostics work. His two youngest children, Asher and Paisley, assist with janitorial work, lawn mowing and car washing at the shop. 

Solesbee’s shop was recently named Best Auto Body Shop in the Panhandle region at the 2023 Idaho’s Best Awards, has received nearly perfect online reviews and has industry-leading NPS scores.

Community Involvement

Solesbee has served as a youth leader for the Boy Scouts for more than 20 years and has served as a volunteer with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He donates annually to the Auto Body Tech School at North Idaho College and also works with his paint partner to host tech information training events on proper welding. He is also involved with City of Hayden and the Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce. Finally, his business is an active member of the National Auto Body Council and is working on its first Recycled Ride giveaway. 

Charlie Drake

Rising Through the Ranks

Charlie Drake’s collision repair career spans 37 years, and he started out as an estimator and painter with a GM dealership group in Memphis, Tenn. Then he began a stint with ABRA Auto Body & Glass in 2004 as a general manager, rising through the ranks to district manager to regional vice president in 2010. 

Massive Growth

Drake’s next move was to Caliber Collision as operations manager; then he joined Classic Collision in 2018 as vice president of operations across all Georgia locations, and shortly thereafter, he was promoted to chief operating officer, growing Classic Collision from 27 Georgia locations to 223 locations across 15 states from Alaska to Florida.

Rising Star

As you can see, Drake was identified as a rising star from the moment he began his collision career, and he has played a critical role in mentoring other individuals who have now achieved  such lofty titles as president, regional and chief officer roles across his multi-shop owner (MSO) platforms. He also still holds ASE certification and the I-CAR Platinum designation.

Giving Back

Drake has also given back to the industry through his involvement with the Atlanta I-CAR Committee, Collision Repair Education Foundation, SkillsUSA (both as a participant and a judge) and the Lincoln Tech Board of Directors.

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