Gate City Collision’s Merrimack Location
SHOP: Gate City Collision (Merrimack location) LOCATION: Merrimack, NH OWNER: Mark Piekarski (vice president: BJ Piekarski)
SIZE: 8,000 square feet STAFF: 11 (5 technicians, 2 painters, 1 parts manager, 1 receptionist, 1 CSR, 1 recondition) ANNUAL REVENUE: $2.3 million
1) The most eye-catching element of Gate City Collision’s three locations in Greater Nashua, N.H., might be their funny marquees, which began when owner Mark Piekarski thumbed through a joke book more than two decades ago.
“That’s what we’re known for—being the place with the funny signs,” says Mark’s son (and Gate City’s current vice president), BJ Piekarski. “It’s almost like a point of reference now, because we’ve been doing it for so many years. It has been a great marketing tool.”
2) The Piekarski family has long taken pride in their shops’ community involvement. And in that respect, the race car that Gate City owns and sponsors (and BJ races in) serves as a rallying point. Piekarski often takes the car to community events, like those sponsored by the local Rotary Club.
“We do a booth display with the race car and do free giveaways,” Piekarski explains. “Just to get our name out, and what exactly is entailed in collision repair that most people might not know. … It really catches the eyes of people. So it makes people want to come over, ask questions about the company.”
3) Roughly two years ago, Gate City―which has earned Best Auto Body Repair Facility of the Greater Nashua area for five straight years―finished renovating an old Saab dealership in Merrimack, N.H., that the company purchased, and the redesign left Piekarski with an open concept office area that opened eyes. In fact, it was impressive enough that Enterprise and Allstate inquired about working out of that facility.
The office is also equipped with a waiting area that garners compliments from customers due to its comfortable furniture, and an upstairs breakroom that Gate City employees truly appreciate. Finally, the office area also features a greeter, who refers each customer to the proper department.
4) Piekarski is especially prideful with regard to the Merrimack location’s methodical paint department To make things run as smoothly as possible, Piekarski has his paint prepper come in an hour earlier than his painter, so cars can be prepped and moved into the booth for when the painter arrives. In turn, Piekarski’s painter typically works a shift that runs an hour later, to ensure all work is painted and wrapped up to be ready for the following day.
5) Another way in which Gate City stands out from the local crowd is through its use of a remote estimator, positioned full-time at a local Toyota dealership. The remote estimator performs all initial paperwork on damaged vehicles, looks the car over, and then repair work is completed at a Gate City facility, lending convenience to customers.
“He acts as a liaison between the dealership and the repair facility,” Piekarski notes. “Due to growing that relationship and getting that estimator in a remote location, we get all the dealer’s business, and it’s been huge.”
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