When the Murray family patriarch Bj Bjorneby founded Bjorneby’s Auto Rebuild in the Seattle area some 50 years ago, he never could have envisioned electric vehicles (EVs) — never mind fixing them.
Today, Bjorneby’s grandson Kyle Murray is focused on just that — with one facility in Des Moines, Wash., dedicated solely to Tesla and other EV repairs.
The family has numerous locations throughout Seattle where Kyle’s mother, Wendy, father Patrick and Uncle Thomas are continuing the family tradition of innovation and high-quality collision repairs. CARSTAR Murray’s and CARSTAR Port Orchard are all led by the Murray family. Wendy Murray’s brother, Bob Bjorneby, owns Bob Bjorneby’s CARSTAR Federal Way Collision and CARSTAR at 272nd. They also own Fix Auto Puyallup, Fix Auto Gig Harbor and Fix Auto Port Orchard.
The vision to dedicate a location for repairing EVs began in early 2022 as Kyle Murray evaluated the mix of vehicles on their local roads and the growing presence of EVs. He also studied their current production mix and the challenges of trying to repair both EVs and gasoline-powered vehicles efficiently in the same facility.
“We have seen the demand for EV repairs continue to increase over the past few years and experienced the strain it presented on our repair process and flow across all of our locations,” said Murray. “We began exploring what it would take to dedicate one facility to EV repairs and mapped out our plan to achieve that.”
Murray broke down their approach into three areas — team training, facility improvements and process changes. Each area required a number of adjustments, which Murray and his team tackled over the summer months. By Nov. 1, 2022, they stopped accepting assignments for anything but EVs, and today CARSTAR Murray’s Des Moines is one of the only facilities in the country dedicated solely to EV repairs.
Ensuring the team at CARSTAR Murray’s Des Moines was trained to the highest Tesla standards was the first order of business. Team members participated in OEM and I-CAR training to learn the intricacies of repairing EVs and adhering to all safety standards.
Murray said this dedicated approach to repairing EVs has helped him attract top talent of repair professionals who want to work on the latest vehicles.
“This has made our shop attractive to potential employees and allows us to hire the best talent,” said Murray. “We have people coming to us now to join the team, which is certainly not common across our industry.”
Configuring the Facility
The next step was updating the facility (which opened in 2002) to meet the needs for EV repairs. Murray worked with an electrician to expand the power resources needed to charge vehicles, then came the redesign of the layout and repair flow. Murray already had a fire suppression system in place, but added other safety improvements to protect customers’ vehicles in the facility and his team. He also created a warehousing system to carry a deeper assortment of vehicle parts.
Process for Efficiency
One of the challenges that Murray had found with EV repairs was the backorder lag for parts. He worked to pre-empt this issue by creating an inventory system of the most commonly replaced Tesla parts so they would be on hand when needed.
Then, Murray implemented a thorough disassembly for repair (DFR) process through which they could accurately specify what was needed for that repair. He also set up a parts cart or parts crate system where parts removed from the vehicle could be stored in the warehouse safely until needed.
“By having more parts already on hand for repairs, preserving parts removed from the vehicle and planning the repair process, we can shorten the time we have EVs sitting on our lot,” said Murray. “This allows us to work more efficiently and manage the vehicles on our lot and in our facility.”
Already, Murray’s approach to green vehicles is delivering green to his bottom line.
“We definitely seeing an increase in our profitability, thanks to the improved efficiency of just repairing one type of vehicle, the higher standard labor rates for EVs and motivation and productivity of our repair professionals. Our length-of-rental (LOR) is down two days below the market average, when it was two days above it. We see customers coming from four to five hours away for service, and we’re already booked out for the next four to five months on repairs.”
Bj Bjorneby is amazed to see the modern repair facility built on his legacy by his grandson, and Murray is committed to keeping the family’s tradition alive and growing for generations to come.
For more information, visit CARSTAR.com.