Snap Shop: Fix Auto Alameda

Sept. 20, 2019
Take a virtual tour of a northern California shop with nearly 50,000 square feet at its disposal.

FIX AUTO ALAMEDA OWNER: ARTHUR MERCADO LOCATION: ALAMEDA, CALIF. SIZE: 46,000 SQUARE FEET STAFF: 50 ANNUAL REVENUE: $9 MILLION AVERAGE MONTHLY CAR COUNT: 300 

EXPANSIVE FOOTPRINT 

When owner Arthur Mercado took over his Alameda, Calif., shop in 2006, he knew he didn’t have enough room to operate effectively. 

“I saw a need to expand,” he recalls, “because when we first started out and we were really humming, we were playing Tetris like crazy—we were losing so much time moving cars in and out, and it drove me nuts.” 

In 2019, such inefficiency is a distant memory. Mercado has taken over multiple buildings on two city blocks just outside of Oakland. Now his staff produces $9 million annually, with a 10,000-square-foot office and two production facilities at their disposal. 

NEON SIGNAGE

Roughly nine years ago, Mercado’s son forced him to watch the movie Cars “10 times per week, at least.” Eventually, the shop owner became a fan of the children’s film, and sought a facility that appeared worthy of fictional Radiator Springs.  

“I told my designer, ‘I want my store to look like something out of a Pixar movie,’” Mercado says. “And I want neon, and I want that old [fashioned] vibe.” 

As it turns out, he was able to take advantage of Alameda’s facade improvement program, with the city picking up much of the bill for neon lighting and signage. Mercado says the shop’s circular, exterior neon sign cost roughly $10,000. 

These days, he adds, “everybody that drives by is like, ‘I like it; it’s got that old Route 66 vibe, and it has that nostalgia piece to it.’” 

EXTENSIVE EQUIPMENT 

Fix Auto Alameda features a 19,000-square-foot collision repair area and plenty of state-of-the-art equipment. But, even beyond the facility’s expensive, downdraft paint booth, Mercado is especially appreciative of his Hunter alignment rack.

“So many shops out there don’t have alignment equipment,” Mercado says, “and I hate subletting.” 

The roughly $65,000 alignment rack and accompanying computer system allow Mercado to “control my jobs, and control the pace and where it goes. It just makes our jobs go that much faster, and they’re updated every year. … The rack’s the most expensive [piece of equipment], but cheap racks don’t last.” 

VALUABLE PORTERS 

Over the years, Mercado has developed a knack for hiring underappreciated workers from industries outside of the collision repair world. The porter position especially lends itself to solid entry-level employees, he has learned. 

Those factors have allowed him to assemble a four-person team of full-time porters, who help work flow throughout Fix Auto Alameda’s handful of buildings. Those porters, once unsung in previous professions, now help fuel the workflow at Mercado’s shop. 

“They’re always looking for something to do,” Mercado says of the porters. “They’ve always got to be moving. They’re proactive, as opposed to reactive. 

“If you’ve got good people, and you’ve got good processes, the profit will be there.” 

Sponsored Recommendations

Best Body Shop and the 360-Degree-Concept

Spanesi ‘360-Degree-Concept’ Enables Kansas Body Shop to Complete High-Quality Repairs

Maximizing Throughput & Profit in Your Body Shop with a Side-Load System

Years of technological advancements and the development of efficiency boosting equipment have drastically changed the way body shops operate. In this free guide from GFS, learn...

Height Limitations for Paint Booths: How Stretching to Fit is ESSENTIAL

When repairing some of the tallest passenger and commercial vehicles, an extra 3 feet of height in a paint booth can be the difference between increased business and customers...

ADAS Applications: What They Are & What They Do

Learn how ADAS utilizes sensors such as radar, sonar, lidar and cameras to perceive the world around the vehicle, and either provide critical information to the driver or take...