Snap Shop: Kingston Collision
KINGSTON COLLISION LOCATION: Kingston, NY OWNER: David Rowe SIZE: 5,000 square feet STAFF: 10 AVERAGE MONTHLY CAR COUNT: 60 ANNUAL REVENUE: $1.4 million
1. A Focus on Cleanliness
In the opinion of David Rowe, the owner of Kingston Collision, “first impressions are lasting.”
That’s why Rowe has few qualms about investing in a cleaning person for his facility, or in spending on landscaping during the springtime. Rowe was an insurance adjuster earlier in his career, and his travels from shop to shop occasionally left him underwhelmed by what he witnessed.
When he opened Kingston Collision in his hometown back in 2003, he wanted potential customers to know that the family-owned business was run by operators who prioritized running an aesthetically pleasing shop. Perhaps it’s no coincidence, then, that, years later, he is no stranger to winning the occasional small business award.
“We plant flowers every year and try to keep the lawn respectable,” Rowe notes. “It makes a huge difference.”
2. Soundproofed Office
Rowe and his wife aim to defuse as much anxiety as possible for customers who venture to their facility following car accidents. And, one subtle way in which they accomplish that is by keeping the customer waiting area as quiet as possible.
When the collision repair center was built, Rowe requested that his contractor soundproof the walls around the office. As a result, soundproofing was built into the facility’s thick walls to absorb sound. The cost: roughly $18,000.
Now, if Kingston Collision’s shop floor workers want to listen to loud music, it can scarcely be heard by customers.
“My guys can run an air hammer right behind where my wife sits [in the shop office] and you can still have a normal conversation,” Rowe says.
3. Innovative Welding Equipment
A few years ago, Rowe invested in a pair of Car-O-Liner welders. Now, when his employees need to use a piece of equipment like a resistance spot welder, they have top-of-the-line technology at their fingertips.
He appreciates the fact that the relatively new welders are user friendly, with a computerized setup that leaves few chances for operator error.
“When you’re welding multiple layers of steel—high strength, ultra-high strength,” Rowe explains, “it measures the metal and puts the perfect amount of electricity through the weld to secure it.”
4. Embracing 3-D Measuring
As part of his big, six-figure investment in equipment a few years ago, Rowe also purchased a 3-D measuring system (like the welders, the measuring system is from Car-O-Liner). Rowe has become a believer in 3-D measuring due to the peace of mind it offers him as a shop operator.
He feels a 3-D measuring system can pinpoint vehicle damage that the human eye is simply incapable of. For instance, Kingston Collision recently repaired a 2016 Jeep Wrangler that initially looked like it had endured no more than a hit to the front right headlight; after the vehicle was measured, it was determined that collateral damage stretched all the way to the rear bumper.
“Everything underneath the floor, underneath the seat—things you visibly cannot see—this thing measures to [within] millimeters,” Rowe says of the 3-D measuring system. “If you’re not willing to have an open mind with today’s technology about cars, you’re not going to stick around. Because this stuff is necessary.”