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A1 Auto's CARSTAR Collision

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Photos courtesy of A1 Auto's CARSTAR Collision

Ten years after first opening a two-bay collision repair business, Don Ward opened his “dream shop” in November 2015, A1 Auto’s CARSTAR Collision in Spring, Texas. The shop is a mashup of all of the things he loves—retro auto shops, vintage diners and art deco.

In 2009, while still operating out of a different location, Ward purchased two acres to build on. Due to the poor economy at the time, construction had to wait. The extra time allowed him to work on putting together the finances and getting the business plan ready. The results speak for themselves.

1. The exterior of A1 Auto’s CARSTAR Collision represents the three themes that Ward wanted to incorporate into his shop. The building as a whole is meant to look like an old cinema: The dark gray color outlines the silhouette of a 1950s? diner, and the windows were inspired by service stations from the 50s.

2. Customers are greeted by statues of the Blues Brothers and Elvis when they visit A1, another cinematic touch added by Ward.

3.  For his estimator station, Ward wanted something unique that still had an old-school touch. “You know, back in the 50s, most travel was by cars with the suitcases loaded in the trunk and the family in the back seat. We fix cars in a retro-inspired facility, so let’s use suitcases from the 50s,” says Ward about the inspiration behind the unique desk. He ordered suitcases from the 1950s and cut them to size so the fronts could be used on the counter.

4. The plan is for the lobby to be used as a display room for vintage cars. Currently, there’s a Plymouth Prowler that is being used as a place holder for a 1959 Corvette and a ‘71 Cuda that Ward is in the market for. Until the actual car comes in, customers will have to make do with the large mural of a vintage Cadillac painted in the lobby.

5. Other special touches in the lobby include another mural in memory of Ward’s father, who passed away in 2011. Ward hired the company Murals Your Way, which can take any photograph and make it into a mural, to do the artwork in the shop. The photograph he chose represented all of the things that his father loved and the company even surprised him by putting his father’s name on the side of the truck.

6. Every employee has their picture framed at A1 Auto’s CARSTAR Collision. “I want my customers to see who is working on their car. It gives my employees a sense of pride that we take the time and courtesy to display their titles and certification,” says Ward.

7. The shop is broken up into two sections, body and paint, which are separated by a fire wall. The body shop has 18 bays and the paint shop has six.

8. When a job comes in, it goes into the disassembly for repair (DFR) station. Once a production manager sees a file in the DFR rack, all of the damaged parts are put on a parts cart and put back in its designated area while waiting for the new parts.

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