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Burnside Collision

SHOP: Burnside Collision  LOCATION: Portland, Ore.  OWNER: Marc Denton

SIZE: 7,000 square feet STAFF: 6 ANNUAL REVENUE: $800,000

When Marc Denton took over as owner of Burnside Collision in Portland, Ore., a little more than two years ago, he acquired what he calls “a dead building.” “Half the power didn’t work,” the owner notes of the 105-year-old structure. “There was shorts all over the electrical system. The old air compressor was toast, the piping system was toast. So we’ve invested a lot of time and money into actually getting this place up and running again.” Fortunately for Denton, Burnside Collision employs an energetic staff, including his wife, Juliette, whom the owner says might very well be the only female painter in Portland. The entire crew seemingly has a supportive attitude. But that’s just one key element that has helped revitalize the business and make it well-reviewed by customers.

1) The first thing that catches the eyes of passersby outside Burnside Collision is the shop’s uniquely painted exterior. When Denton’s business first moved into the building, it was painted a bizarre color scheme the owner says included a “mustardy yellow.” Now, after painting concluded in May 2016, the shop’s exterior boasts a brighter, more artistic paint job and color scheme, incorporating red, white and gray. Denton was left with a shop exterior that accentuates the “old-school charm” that drew him to the building in the first place. “We just wanted it to be inviting,” the owner says. “And people across the street ... have to stare at this building; it should be at least kind of happy and appealing-looking.”

2) One element of Burnside Collision’s current layout that Denton is particularly fond of: its covered front area.  That drive-in entrance truly pays dividends during Portland’s rainy stretches. “It is nice,” the owner says of the covered area. “Our customers can just pull right in, right off the street, and get estimates out of the weather.”

3) Another point of pride these days among Burnside Collision’s staff: the building’s character. Beyond the structure’s ornate façade, the roof also features eye-catching elements, as it’s made largely of aged timber.  “It’s very unique, just because of the size of the timber,” says Denton. “It’s massive, one-piece beams—you can’t find beams like that anymore.” Denton says that customers are often blown away when they notice the beams.

4) One key challenge Burnside Collision was presented with two years ago is thriving despite a lack of parking. Fortunately for Denton, he has an accommodating, adaptable staff. The owner says as long as he pays close attention to scheduling, his small crew is largely efficient. The owner says the key to surviving with limited parking is to get estimates written swiftly and to consistently get cars out the door as initially scheduled.“We always leave one spot open for that you-never-know kind of job,” Denton adds. “It’s just a matter of us being on the same page.”

5) Ultimately, Burnside Collision has built a solid reputation thanks in no small part to its upgraded paint shop.  The Portland shop has no shortage of passionate painters. In fact, Denton will even have his crew paint the occasional ’65 Lincoln or ’87 Firebird mainly for team morale (“It breaks up the monotony,” the owner explains. “It lets people actually utilize their brains instead of muscle memory.”) Denton had to retrofit his cross-flow paint booth to handle a waterborne system, and installed multiple modern compressors and blower systems. He repositioned a large furnace in the shop to provide requisite heat. “We have, in general, kind of revamped the entire facility,” the owner says.

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