I didn’t know that Orrville made so much stuff. Scissor lifts, clutches, dairy products, jam. That’s right – this is the home of Smucker’s. Founder Jerome Monroe Smucker’s original house still stands just outside the factory gates.
It is also the home of Nagy’s Collision Specialists’ corporate office. There, I meet Ron and Dan Nagy, who are president and vice president of the company. Looks are deceiving. They look like they would be right at home wearing John Deere ballcaps and sitting on tractors. Their speech and mannerisms are very folksy. But make no mistake: these two guys are some of the smartest businessmen I’ve ever met. This becomes increasingly apparent to me throughout the day.
We sit in Ron’s office, eat red licorice and talk business. They let me in on a little secret: they have secret shoppers go around to the stores to see if SOPs are being followed. They tell me all their employees are paid hourly.
“Flat-rate causes dissension,” says Dan.
“When you pay flat-rate, you’re managing quality. When you pay hourly, you’re managing production,” says Ron.
Ron says he looks at his “numbers” not once a month, not once a week, but two or three times a week.
Ron characterizes himself as the “entrepreneur.” A ball of energy, he says, “I hate being stagnant.” One employee likened him to a “little kid.” He has a booming laugh that is plentiful and hardy. He laughs a lot.
Dan is the operations guy. He is more low-key and laid back, but I wouldn’t want to get in a bar fight with him. A pesky vacuum salesman had the right idea when he high-tailed it out of Dan’s home after his wife called him at the shop to say he was being a nuisance. “He’ll be home in exactly 7 minutes,” Dan’s wife told the salesman, and given the proximity of their house to the shop, she wasn’t lying.
No Fear of Failure
Throughout the day, I hear some interesting turns of phrase from both brothers:
“How do you eat that elephant? You put a little salt on it.”
“If I lose a job, it’s steering. If I get a job, it’s a referral.”
“People don’t fear failure; they fear people knowing that they failed.”
It’s odd that the subject of failing comes up, especially since Nagy’s is experiencing incredible success right now. But the brothers want me to know that money and success don’t mean a whole lot to them.
“We grew up in a trailer. We know what it’s like, so we could always go back there,” says Ron. “If we lost everything, we’d just go back to Doylestown and run that shop. But we don’t worry about something not working; we focus on how hard we need to work to make it work.”
When you get to know Ron and Dan, you realize they speak the truth about their simple natures. Both are average guys. They don’t dress fancy and don’t spend fancy. They have absolutely no ego. Money is not their motivator. As Ron puts it, “We like to build things.” At the same time, they make no bones about their plans for the future. They know the industry is going through some rough times.
“The hardest time we had running our business was when it was $800,000 to $1 million,” Dan says. “What’s the future of the $800,000 to $1 million shop? Sell to us.”
Ron makes the observation that right now, a body shop is pretty much only worth its equipment. Somehow, I don’t think that’s the case with Nagy’s, though.
I ask if they ever fight, and they say no. They get along great – primarily due to a bond forged from fighting off four sisters growing up. They are a great team, and they know it.