I hope by the time you read this that you’re off to a flying start in the New Year. In 2014, I’m going to try something a little different with my column.
In this job, I’m asked to travel a fair amount, and I often find myself in different locations around our great nation. So I thought, why not take advantage of this and bring some of the interesting shops I come across to all of you? I hope you’ll find this a refreshing change on what I write about. All the shops will be very different, and by no means will this be an endorsement of how they go to market. It will simply be an informative read from around the country.
This month’s destination is Butler, Pa. Butler is an old steel town located in the eastern part of the state. It’s a nice little town with a still active downtown. Right in the middle of town is Butler County Ford.
Like many smaller town dealers, Butler has stayed in town because that’s where most of the community is. The unique part about this dealer and its body shop is that it has four floors. This facility was a reassembly point for Ford back in the day. Built in 1918, partial cars came into the dealership by rail and would move through the building and be assembled on overhead conveyors that are still in place. There are only a handful of these unique buildings still in operation.
The body shop is on the third floor and has three to five employees. Chuck Reeseman is the manager, and he still works on vehicles during busy times. Every vehicle that’s worked on has to make the trip to the third floor via the elevator. Think about that from a logistical point of view! As you can see from the picture of the elevator, there’s no room on there for a wrecker.
Still, Chuck says they manage 10 to 15 vehicles a week and are profitable. They shoot PPG waterborne products and have no downdraft booth (12-inch cement floors won’t allow it).
It’s like a trip down memory lane to visit this shop. Cars used to be built at this facility, and new ones and repaired ones still roll off the elevator and into customers’ hands. It’s definitely something to see if you’re in the area.
If you know of a unique shop in your area, drop me a line and I’ll put it on the list. See you on the road!