|March 29, 2015||No Comments|
You know that saying about how if you love what you do, then you’ll never work another day in your life? I call it’s bluff. If you love what you do, more likely than not, you’ll work harder than you ever have before. You’ll wake up early, stay up late, shed blood, sweat, and tears. You won’t love all of it, but it will be so worth it. There is something so satisfying about giving A+ effort to something you care about and can be proud of. There is also something utterly terrifying about it — putting yourself out there, daring to fail, doing something new.
Many of our favorites that we feature in our stories are doing just that. Taking that leap of faith [and often, finance] into the world of the self employed. The career path began in 1980 Gary and his wife Karen were settling in to this new suburb outside of Los Angeles, a little town called Simi Valley. Gary was hired as a technician with City Auto body Automotive. When asked why auto body, the reply “I saw the potential to make a decent living”. As timing would have it the opportunity to purchase half of the business from a retiring partner came just 6 months later. The selling owner financed the buyout. When I decided to purchase the business, my thoughts were “if I fail I’m young enough to bounce back”. That was thirty-five years ago.
Gary’s base business practice is something that almost every business would find of value. He is always looking forward. “In the early years when we were a 5 person garage in a 6,000 sq ft building we were mostly word of mouth..” Gary understood growth and what it means to strive as a long term business. His business is now comprised of repeat customers from the early years as well as insurance contracts and relationships with local car dealers.
We asked Gary his top values and why he has managed to grow forward. He said in the early years he invested many hours it was not uncommon 60-70 hours per week. He also knew one of the keys was to re-invest in the business. Gary offered his son a position in the business if he received a degree in business. His son joined him just over 3 years ago. When asked what he has brought, Gary stated “He’s smart, educated, and he understands the customer service aspect of my business.”
Gary says that their success comes as well from trial and error. It’s the continual reinvesting and staying ahead. He takes a broad look at what other successful business are doing across the nations. “What can I learn from what these guys are doing ?” He is part of the Auto Body Association. One of recent re-investments, the aluminum repair station. He invested in training and built the station and became Ford F150 certified.. He chuckled “it’s yet to be used.” It’s mainly because the new Ford F150’s were only released in January of this year.
Another area was customer focus. He knew that he had to establish trust in the early years. As he stated I was this young technician competing against seasoned mechanics.
1) Good Product
2) Superior Customer Experience
3) Solid Reputation
He values the on going relationships. Gary hires “talent” and each employee is trained to deliver on a high level of service. When constructing the current location 4 years ago, customer experience was an integral part of the design. The design is “a step above a body shop”. To me it’s more than a step above and why it’s on our A+ list of businesses that make Simi Valley a great community to live in.
They offer a full service collision repair center. They have a full mechanical department for technical things and are equipped to deliver above standard. As a consumer you have a choice, state law allows you to choose where you take your car for repair in an insurance claim. They can handle it all for you on an insurance claim, paperwork, rental car and the specifics of what is being covered by insurance. They guide you through the process.
Gary and with his wife Karen an RN at Los Robles hospital are 35 year residents of Simi Valley. They are thankful that their son Chad and their daughter Lindsay and her husband Justin and granddaughter live just 3 blocks away. Gary’s eyes light up when you mention his 6 month old Granddaughter Charlotte.
City Auto Body Automotive was awarded
“Business of the year for 2014”
by the Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Gary’s pick for his favorite Simi Valley business. Don Cucos Restaurant where he gathers about once a week with his family.
City Auto Body Automotive
2150 Agate Court
Simi Valley, CA 93065