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Dec 2017 Innovations

SHOP STATS: Peotter's Auto Body  Location: Summit, N.J.   Innovator: Timothy and Larry Peotter  Size: 9,000 SQUARE FEET  Staff: 20  Average monthly car count: 100   Annual revenue: $3.8 MILLION

What It Is:

Elevated platforms that serve as storage spaces for parts, tools and surplus shop supplies.  


The Inspiration: 

Timothy Peotter, the founder of Peotter’s Auto Body in Summit, N.J., first came up with the idea of adding catwalks to free up the shop floor and keep it clean. He added the first three catwalks in 2010. He passed away a few years back, but his wife, Joanne, and their son and daughter, Larry and Renee, took over the business. 

Staying true to their dad’s mission, the Peotters decided to add two more catwalks in 2016. The catwalks help the shop have more space to take on bigger repair jobs, according to Peotter. 

“If I didn’t have them, it would take up take up the space of one or two working bays,” Peotter says. 


What It Does: 

The shop has five catwalks throughout the three-story facility:

  • Two on the first floor
  • One in the paint area
  • Two in the basement 

The catwalks store spare parts, tools and surplus shop supplies. Peotter notes that he can buy shop supplies in bulk and designate a catwalk or a section of the catwalk to house the materials. Each catwalk has designated sections for different things such as parts, tools or shop supplies. Peotter notes that they will be adding another one by the end of the year in the wash area.


How It’s Made:

Peotter worked with a steelworker, who helped put the facility together and set the first few catwalks up. He pre-built and welded it together, based on Peotter’s specifications. It usually took him 2–3 weeks to build it. He then bolted the catwalk on with beams. 

The newer catwalks that Peotter added are 20 feet by 20 feet and 38 feet by 6 feet.

There is a moveable ladder that they use to access the catwalks. Usually a parts team member or sometimes a shop helper will be the one going up and onto the catwalk and then hand parts down to techs. Only one person is allowed on the catwalk at a time. Peotter noted that there is a platform to help his parts team members get on the ladders and their are safety chains on the catwalks themselves. Whoever is getting the parts just unhooks the chain in the designated area where the parts are. It’s a two-person effort, that way the person getting or returning parts isn’t doing everything themselves and there is no safety issue.


The Cost: 

The two custom-made catwalks the Peotters added cost a total of $13,000.


The ROI:

Peotter Auto Body’s technicians like the catwalks, as they are able to get a hold of the parts they need with ease.

“In a year, the catwalks pay for themselves,” Peotter says. “There is also a definite time savings associated with having the catwalks. We can keep all the parts for a job in one specific place and that helps our team keep the shop floor clean and move around with ease.”

The newer catwalks allow for more parts storage. The shop can pre-order more parts before the initial estimate and can then work on the car as soon as it comes in. 

He notes that they free up roughly 600 square feet of space on the shop floor and after speaking with a consultant he learned that each square foot of the shop floor produces $25 dollars per day for a working bay. In total, these catwalks help the shop produce an additional $15,000 per month.

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