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Thirty years later, Merchant looks back fondly at his time with CARSTAR, while still looking forward to the future of the industry alongside his new business partner, Michael Ferrucci.
Ray’s CARSTAR Auto Body of Bristol, Conn., is proud to celebrate their 30th year of business.
Owner Steve Merchant has always enjoyed anything having to do with cars. With his dad owning the repair facility, Merchant was able to start his career in the industry at the age of 15 sweeping floors and cleaning cars.
“I was always determined to make this my career, because there really is nothing like taking a vehicle that has been damaged in a collision and repairing it to become roadworthy,” said Merchant.
When Merchant was 34, his family-owned collision repair business joined the newly created CARSTAR network. Founded by Lirel Holt, CARSTAR was a franchise network, dedicated to helping these family-run collision repair facilities provide best-in-class service and repairs to its communities. However, the early days of CARSTAR did not come without obstacles.
“Lirel’s perspective was refreshing, and we were eager to become a part of a like-minded community, which kept us motivated to persevere even through the beginning years when unforeseen challenges came our way,” said Merchant. “CARSTAR was new so not everybody knew us yet. And we had a fire that devastated our facility in 1990 that nearly cost us our business. Plus, we had to overcome the retirements from some longstanding and beloved employees.”
Through all of these struggles, having the support of the CARSTAR community behind him was something Merchant always valued.
“The relationships we forged and the sense of community within CARSTAR is like no other,” Merchant said. “This helps us be leaders in our own cities because our standard of work within CARSTAR is set so high.”
Happiest when he receives compliments about his facility’s work, Merchant prioritizes the customer experience and repair quality above all else.
“My team works tremendously hard to be sure every customer is treated with premier service in addition to receiving best-in-class repairs,” he said. “When customers tell us they are happy with our services, it just reaffirms all of our hard work is worth it.”
Now, 30 years later, Merchant looks back fondly at his time with CARSTAR, while still looking forward to the future of the industry alongside his new business partner, Michael Ferrucci.
“With consolidation persisting in the collision repair industry, we know we have to expand our operations in order to compete in this ever-changing landscape and be open to more change as vehicles get more technologically advanced,” said Merchant. “My best advice to other small business owners – in any industry – is to be open, embrace new opportunities and prepare to grow alongside change.”
Growth in times of adversity, learning from past challenges and facing new opportunities with clear goals are some of Merchant’s most recognized attributes, helping him reach this 30th anniversary milestone.
“We have some exciting times ahead of us here at Ray’s CARSTAR Auto Body, and I know we could not have made it to 30 years without the support of our community – so thank you, Bristol Connecticut, for your continued trust and support.”
For more information on CARSTAR, visit CARSTAR.com. CARSTAR is actively seeking new franchise partners, and interested parties should call (844) 906-9764.