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The 2010 FenderBender Awards

The Finest In Collision Repair

(page 4 of 7)

Category: Executive

Jimmy Lefler

CEO, Owner, Lefler Collision, Evansville, Ind.

Jerry ButtsLefler Collision CEO and owner Jimmy Lefler is a good leader in many ways, but it’s his community engagement—both heartfelt and effective—that ranks him among the finest in the industry. “You often hear him say to the team and customers, ‘We are in the people business; repairing vehicles is just a part of what we do,’” says Eddie Dietz, vice president of operations for the Evansville, Ind., shop.

That people business takes many forms, but two examples really bring it home: Ladies’ Night and the Support Our Troops campaign.

After some women’s cars were broken into during a Susan G. Komen walk for breast cancer, Lefler was angry. He decided to offer free repairs to the break-in victims.

That act of goodness led to Ladies’ Night, a workshop that teaches women automotive basics. A mechanic teaches them about regular upkeep, what they don’t really need to do, and what they should expect if they have a crash and need repairs. Lefler holds the workshop every other month, and the last one brought in 84 women.

“[Jimmy Lefler] is really involved in the community
and constantly holding events that drive business.
All that effort impacts the business daily.”
—Eddie Dietz, vice president of operations, Lefler Collision

“I’ve read that 74 percent of all auto purchases are done by women, and I hope this makes them feel more empowered,” Lefler says. “They’re probably going to come to us for repairs if they ever need them, but we do it because we love it, and it’s a great way to give back to the community.”

Lefler Collision also organized support for local military families. When the 163rd Army Reserve went to Iraq, Lefler reached out to each service member’s spouse with an information packet that included numbers for 24-hour emergency service and the cell phone numbers of each manager at Lefler Collision. “We gave them free car maintenance, and did any repairs at employee rates,” Lefler says. “Any spouse who had a problem or just a question about their vehicle could call us, and we would give them advice just like we would our own sisters or mothers.”

Lefler began working at the shop when he was old enough to push a broom. His grandfather Leroy started Leroy’s Paint and Fender Repair in Evansville in 1952, and Lefler started working full time with his father, James, in 1986. Twenty years later, Jimmy bought James out.

It’s Lefler’s vision, Dietz says, that has taken the company from a $1 million operation to more than $8 million annually. “He’s really involved in the community and constantly holding events that drive business,” says Dietz, who’s been at the shop, working with Lefler, for 11 years.

Lefler Collision’s main location is 36,000 square feet. The company has three more locations throughout the Evansville area. The company’s smallest location—7,500 square feet—pulls in more than $1.5 million annually. Although those new locations have increased Lefler Collision’s size and revenue, the business had already grown from $1 million to $5 million before the expansion began in 2006. The new locations and other growth put Lefler Collision at about $8.5 million annually.

About 68 employees keep the chain running. Two of the body shops and the mechanical shop are within five miles of each other in Evansville, and a third body shop is located in Newburgh, a suburb eight miles from Evansville. All of the shops are implementing 5S and blueprinting processes, because those ideas reflect what Lefler has believed for many years about how to do good repairs.

It’s doing good repairs and doing good deeds that keep Lefler Collision doing well. In addition to community efforts like the Ladies’ Nights and Support Our Troops campaign, Lefler offers child safety seat fitting classes and classes for teen drivers. And more such community-focused efforts are surely on the way.

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