Owner: Doug Bowman
Location: Ranson, West Virginia
Staff Size: 12
Shop Size: 12,500 square feet
Average Monthly Car Count: 50
Average Repair Order: $4,200
Annual Revenue: $3M
1. From After-School Work to Business
Bowman founded Superior Auto Body back in 1990 for one big reason. “I like cars,” he said.
“I used to spend half the day at high school and the other half working at car dealerships at night.” He used to wash cars and work in the garage, where he received his initial training. He continued to work with other car dealerships until he decided to open his own business.
“When I started, I did everything,” he said. “I did the estimating, the painting, the bodywork, the delivery, I did it all.” Bowman said that while he was doing things alone, much of his work was sublet such as alignment work, framework, and air conditioning. However, the number of cars he could fix in-house increased over time as he added staff and acquired more space.
“I’m proud of my people. I’ve got a great front line, a great team.”
2. Growing a Business
When Superior Auto Body started, it was operating out of the back of an existing towing company, which was what Bowman was able to get with the bank loan to start his business. After a few years, he bought out the building of the towing company. Later, he bought a house next to his business and razed it to expand his operation even more.
The property acquisitions more than tripled the amount of space he owns for Superior Auto Body, giving him more space not only for his crew to work on more cars, but to also improve the overall customer experience.
Instead of customers having to use a small side entrance near a different business to be welcomed by someone behind a booth, they can now go straight to a desk in a much larger lounge with seats on a black and white checkered floor. Bowman takes pride in customer service.
Bowman also has an above-ground shop conference room where he can host training and luncheons for his employees. He points out that having such a space is rare for independent shops but more common in MSOs.
3. The Fruits of Growth
Bowman shared that 99% of the cars his shop is taking care of are being fixed in-house, thanks to the ability to house more of the latest GYS spot welders, John Bean tire balancers, and other pieces of equipment on clean floors. He said he used old equipment for a time in the ‘90s, with “floor pot” pulling anchors.
“That’s why I’m so passionate about my business,” Bowman said. “I know where I started from, and I know where I’ve come."