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From the age of 16, Sandra Scarlette and her brother, Pat, understood the value of a career in the trades and set out to begin their family business.
Founded in 1964, Pat’s Body Shop saw immediate growth, which led to the shop’s relocation to a larger space at their current location in Winston-Salem, N.C., in 1973.
Building her foundation in collision, Sandra worked at Pat’s for several years before trying a different route in the automotive industry.
At a Glance
Location: Winston-Salem, N.C.
Year established: 1964
Square footage: 6,000
Owner & president: Sandra Scarlette
Repair volume: 80-120 cars per week
Average repair cost: $2,500
Number of employees: 27
Training: I-CAR Gold, ASE, CCC, Mitchell
“I went to dealerships and worked for a little bit to see what that world was all about,” Scarlette said. “My brother decided to sell his shop, so I bought it in 1997 and have owned it ever since.”
Recently featured on the cover of Forsyth Woman Magazine for the third time, Scarlette noted the pride she feels being a single woman owner in the collision industry.
“There are a lot of husband-wife teams and a lot of family teams, but it’s just me,” Scarlette said. “Years ago, back in the 80s, I got a lot of questions like, ‘Why are you doing this?’ and ‘Do you really know what you’re doing?’ but women’s rights went through the ringer and it’s different now. We are one of the main independent shops that is full service. We do mechanical, interior, towing, body work and alignments. We do everything.”
Backed with industry knowledge she learned alongside her brother, Scarlette passed the mentoring onto her staff. The team at Pat’s Body Shop is a complete mechanical repair facility with ASE-certified technicians who are consistently trained to keep up with industry standards.
And training doesn’t just stop in the shop. Scarlette is a professional bodybuilder and brings her competitive nature to the business to boost teamwork.
“Last year, I stepped back on the stage after 20 years,” Scarlette said. “I competed for seven years in the 1990s and won my overall class in 1999. I made a promise to someone that I would never do it again if I won, but that person is no longer in my life anymore, so I went back to finish what I started.”
Behind the Bays
Scheduling system: CCC
Estimating system: Mitchell
Spraybooth: Spraybake, Blowtherm
Alignment: Snap-on, Chief, Genesis
Scarlette’s bodybuilding experience brings the staff at Pat’s closer together.
“It helps motivate the team,” Scarlette explained. “They’ll do pushup contests, and we have some weights in the office that we use every now and then. It gives us incentive to stay fit, plus they don’t like it when a woman is beating them, right?”
The staff at Pat’s Body Shop work together like family, because they are.
“They’re all like family. We spend so much time together. Outside of work, we have each other’s backs. We care about everybody and what they’re doing in their lives,” Scarlette said. “My nephew is managing the shop now and he will take over whenever I decide to leave because we want to keep it in the family.”
From day one, Pat’s Body Shop led its marketing efforts by word-of-mouth references, leading to the shop’s legion of dedicated customers. Broadcasting the shop’s accolades even further, Sandra partnered with a local radio station.
“We do mostly word-of-mouth marketing, but a local radio station reopened several years ago that used to be around in the area and we got in on the first level with them and really grew our business with them.”
After finding a niche in the community, Scarlette expanded her business to include performance vehicles at Scarlette’s Performance & Recovery, newly opened in March.
“We have four buildings here in the vicinity, and we can walk to either one,” Scarlette said. “We opened a speed shop across town where we do dyno testing. We work on the high-end cars to make them go fast!”
From classic American muscle cars and late-model super cars to big trucks and motorcycles, services at Scarlette’s Performance & Recovery include performance engines, suspension and alignment, custom exhaust, hot rod and classic restorations, custom work, welding and fabrication, modern updates and dyno tuning.
In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, business has not slowed down at Pat’s Body Shop.
“If anything, business probably increased because, with some of our elderly couples that we do a lot of work for, we’ve been picking up their vehicles for tune-ups,” Scarlette said. “We’ve always done pick-ups and drop-offs, even before the pandemic, and we even offer a shuttle service for our clients to their work or home in case their car needs to stay in the shop a little longer.
“We started towing three years ago, and it helps keep personal relationships up with our customers,” Scarlette explained. “We have one customer with five kids, and they grew up and we fixed all their cars. Now their kids have kids and we fix all their cars too! Our business is a legacy with families like that in our area. We’ve been very blessed.”