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Family, Business, Volunteerism
Keep Minnesota Member Energized

Posted 4/14/2004

Jerry's Body Shop
Exterior of Jerry's Body Shop Inc. in Mankato, Minn.
Later this month, the Automotive Service Association will install its 2004 board of directors and its first female chairman: Geralynn Kottschade, AAM, co-owner and vice president of operations of Jerry's Body Shop Inc. in Mankato, Minn.

In addition to being the first woman to hold the chairmanship, she and her husband, Jerry, are the first husband and wife to both hold the ASA chairman position. Jerry served as ASA chairman in 1995.

The Kottschades, who have been ASA members since the 1970s, have dedicated countless hours to the collision repair industry and ASA - all while operating a successful business. "We joined ASA when we saw how the association could make a difference on the national level. We will continue our membership because we see such an opportunity for our business being associated with an organization of true professionalism that looks and acts the part," said Geralynn Kottschade.

Jerry's Body Shop
An aerial view of the work area of Jerry's Body Shop Inc.
Jerry's Body Shop has 18,500 square feet and employs a staff of 19. The staff is Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR) trained and certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). The company is also a member of the local Better Business Bureau.

Kottschade began her career in the automotive service industry more than 20 years ago working for a company that provided ambulance and towing service as well as a service department. Her responsibilities included dispatching, bookkeeping and assisting the service department.

She later joined Jerry in the family-owned business. "I enjoy working with Jerry. If it were not for our time together in the business, we might not see each other. We talk things through and pass responsibilities to each other," said Kottschade.

In addition to Geralynn and Jerry working in the business, their two children also help out. "Our son, Daniel, who is in the 11th grade, also works with us. It has been fun watching him mature with this skill level. Laura, our 10-year-old, wishes she could help more in the business. She does fill in by answering the phone when she stops by. She also helps out with the filing," said Kottschade. One of Jerry's customers was so impressed by Laura's professionalism, the customer called Kottschade and complimented her on it.

Jerry's Body Shop
Pictured are the Kottschades in the office.
Over the years, Jerry's Body Shop has grown significantly. The firm performs approximately 50 to 60 repairs per week. "Our business philosophy is to do the right thing. We may not get paid to do it, but we are very proud of our customer service ratings," said Kottschade.

Advertising the business is done through various methods including niche marketing to local college students, radio commercials and Yellow Page ads.

The company and its staff have built a solid reputation within the community. By repairing vehicles using state-of-the-art equipment and dedication to ongoing education and training, Jerry's is well known throughout the area. This dedication to the customer and community has earned Jerry's Body Shop numerous awards, including the Minnesota Quality Service Award and the Mankato Area Quality Award. The Kottschades give back to their community through involvement in their Catholic school and the Mankato Area Council for Quality. Geralynn also served in the United States National Guard.

As part of their commitment to continuing education, the staff regularly attends technical courses to stay abreast of the latest collision repair technology. The Kottschades often attend and participate in management seminars and both earned their Accredited Automotive Manager (AAM) designations in 1996 from the Automotive Management Institute.

Jerry's Body Shop
Customers are greeted at the front counter by Rhonda Hughes, receptionist.
Industry involvement is paramount to Kottschade. She has served on the ASA Collision Division Operations Committee as well as the ASA national board of directors since 1999 and will officially assume the chairmanship in mid-April. Due to her tireless dedication to the collision repair industry, Kottschade frequently is a featured speaker at the International Autobody Congress and Exposition (NACE).

Kottschade has also been a participant and leader in other industry organizations such as the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) and the Collision Industry Electronic Commerce Association (CIECA). She has been inducted into the Collision Industry Hall of Eagles and was chosen as one of the Most Influential Women in the industry by Akzo-Nobel in 2000. Additionally, in 2003, she was presented with ASA's Phoenix Award. This award recognizes an individual whose efforts serve to elevate and advance the collision repair industry.

The Kottschades' plans for the future include continued growth and success of their business, spending time with their family and advancement of the collision repair industry.

Shop Stats

Name: Jerry's Body Shop Inc.
Location: Mankato, Minn.
No. of employees: 19
No. of years in business: 33
Likes best about the job: “ The people. I like to work the front counter and assist customers.” - Geralynn Kottschade, AAM, co-owner of Jerry's Body Shop Inc.


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