Location: Holland, MI
Owner: Brian Johnson
Staff Size: 15
Shop Size: 12,000 square feet
Average Monthly Car Count: 100
Annual Revenue: $3.9 million
1. The Hallmark of Holland
There is little recorded history for Holland, Michigan, body shops in the way there is for, say, the Holland Harbor Light that since 1870 has helped guide bulk freighters through the Holland Channel. So Mannes Body Shop owner Brian Johnson can’t say it for certain, but to his knowledge, his business is the oldest body shop in the city. It dates back to 1940, and Johnson is the fifth owner to have been its caretaker over the years.
That includes Johnson’s father, who bought the shop in 1998 and Johnson in turn bought it seven years ago. The shop retains much of its 1940s character, with a retro-styled sign and overhead incandescent lamps for exterior lighting. A lot of that dressing Johnson credits to his wife, who produces creative content for the shop.
“We've utilized a lot of the original structure and look, the old block walls, kind of kept the old shape of the building but try and give it a modern touch,” says Johnson. “So when people come in, they don't necessarily feel like they're in a body shop. They kind of feel more like they're in a lobby of a nice hotel or restaurant.”
2. High Tech Inside
That “modern touch” has meant keeping the inside of the shop as up to date as possible while the exterior maintains that antique aesthetic. While the original shop covers just 4,000 square feet, a nearby building acquisition added nearly 8,000 square feet to the footprint, ensuring space wouldn’t be a major issue. Technology and tools inside the shop have kept up with the times accordingly.
Johnson says that the shop was one of the first in town to have a resistance welder, and was an early adopter of electronic measuring, now fully up to date with Car-o-Liner Vision products. While the shop space is maxed out at the moment, making it difficult to add services such as ADAS calibrations, the focus is on making sure processes are as efficient as possible.
“Focus on what we can do to maximize space, maximize efficiency, maximize systems, to really gain the advantage in gained time, everything from scheduling to painting to calibrating,” says General Manager Mike Lucas.
3. Community Beacon
As the name implies, Holland has a proud Dutch heritage. That heritage is alive and well as Johnson says Holland has a unique culture that the shop strives to serve. “Dutch clean” is an attitude some locals have, expecting to see buildings downtown that are well maintained and cared for.
“It's one of those places where when people ask where you work, and they find out, they're like, I drive by your place three times a week, every week, you know,” says Johnson. “So it's definitely a known area, definitely a known place.”