Wise Decisions, Industry Involvement Prove Successful for Illinois MemberPosted 3/08/2005
By B.J. Johnson
Following the successful repairs on his father's station wagon, Hazen worked in several body shops in and around East Moline, Ill., until 1968 when he opened his first collision repair business. "I soon discovered that you could not work three days a week and fish four, because there was not enough money to pay the bills," said Hazen. After about eight months, he returned to work for Thompson Body Shop in Silvis, Ill.
Hazen continued working for Thompson's until he had the urge to again try his hand at owning a collision repair business. "This time it was completely different - all work and no play," he said.
In 1983, Hazen and Mr. Thompson, owner of his former place of employment, reached an agreement for a buyout of Thompson's Silvis, Ill., location. Collision Repair Center was established in September 1983 as an extension of Quality Control Auto Body, which had been established in 1979. "The two companies were run as a single enterprise until August 1984, when Collision Repair Center was expanded to Hazen Inc. d/b/a Collision Repair Center," said Hazen.
As the business grew, Hazen had the opportunity to expand the services offered to customers. In 1984, he formed Mel's Brake and Alignment. Two years later, Mel's was moved to the Silvis, Ill., location as part of Collision Repair Center.
In 1997, as Hazen had envisioned in 1983, the Quality Control Auto Body entity was completely merged with Collision Repair Center Inc. (CRC), the corporation's current name.
"CRC is not just another 'body shop.' We repair all facets of an automobile, and on occasion, a motor home or semitractor," said Hazen.
Although industry technology is ever-changing, CRC has remained ahead of other shops. The firm was the first body shop to bring laser beam measuring to the Quad Cities area of Illinois. In addition, CRC was the first independent body shop with four-wheel computerized alignments, computer wheel balancing and computerized estimates in the area.
One example of the shop's determination to find and use only the highest-quality equipment is the seven-year search the business spent to locate and purchase a spray-on bed liner system that would stand up to CRC's standards.
Having state-of-the-art equipment and ample space to conduct collision and mechanical repairs are only part of the equation. A competent, properly trained and courteous staff is just as important. CRC employs a staff of 18 to 22 people, depending on the work load.
CRC's employees are featured on the firm's Web site, including photos. In addition, the Web site provides customers with a virtual tour of the facility.
According to Hazen, due to his staff's dedication and attention to every aspect of the company, he can be away from the business without worry. "For the past six years I have traveled coast to coast for various reasons. In that time, I have only received two calls from the shop while I was away. The first call was the general manager calling to tell me one of our detailers had run into a power pole in our parking lot, totaling the finished vehicle for the waiting customer. My general manager had already obtained a rental car and contacted our insurance company, and the employee had been taken to the hospital. His question was concerning the employment status of our employee.
"The second call came while I was attending a seminar on a management system that would allow an owner to access the shop while away and track daily and weekly output. While talking with the instructor, I explained that if an owner needed that much control over the business, he should not be attending this seminar. Further on in our conversation, I told him that I had only received one call from the shop in six years. Within a matter of minutes, my phone rang. You can't imagine the feeling I had, nor the 'Yeah, right' look on his face. But all was not lost; it was my office manager calling to ask who was going to look after our cat at home. I had made the mistake of not communicating properly. I guess that not all can run smoothly after all," said Hazen.
This qualified staff allows Hazen the opportunity to participate in industry and association activities. Hazen has been an ASA member since 1989 and has served on the ASA Collision Division Operations Committee since 1999. Currently he is serving as chairman of the committee's Refinish Subcommittee. In addition, he regularly attends ASA's Congress of Automotive Repair and Service (CARS), the International Autobody Congress and Exposition (NACE) and its Annual Business Meeting.
He was instrumental in organizing the ASA-Quad Cities chapter and held the chapter positions of president, vice president and secretary. "I served as the Inter-Industry Conference on Automotive Repair (I-CAR) district chairman from 1986-1992. I am also an original member of a three-state advisory committee for a local salvage yard, providing input on damage analysis, parts delivery and identification, as well as I-CAR cutting practices," said Hazen.
He is also a member of the Scott Community College auto body advisory board. As a board member, he successfully assisted the college in becoming an I-CAR welding/training certification center for the area. "When asked why I devote so much time and energy to the automotive repair industry, I simply say: To help lead our organization into the future by making a positive contribution. I have a desire to improve the industry's image, as well as advance it technically," said Hazen.
His nonindustry commitments are just as impressive. Hazen currently serves as chairman of the Black Hawk College Small Business Development Center/Export Trade Center/Procurement Technical Assistance Center advisory board; president of the local business organization, Friends of the Avenue; and vice president of a local snowmobile club, Last Run Sno Riders. Additional memberships include the Silvis Optimists Club, the Rock Island Moose Club, the Chamber of Commerce and the Better Business Bureau. "I also serve as congregation chairman and past elder at the Immanuel Lutheran Church Rock Island and am an Eagle Scout," said Hazen.
As a community service, CRC has completely restored a van for the local police department's DARE program. The same was done for the local Bomb Squad and the company has transformed a large Pepsi truck into a HAZMAT truck. "These were all done at no charge and all employees were paid their standard wage," said Hazen.
As for the future, CRC plans to continue its long-established business philosophy of doing it right the first time and treating everyone like you expect to be treated. According to Hazen, his personal plans are "to go back to the ways I tried to do business in 1968 - work three days and fish, fish, golf and fish the remaining four. Except when I'm on vacation or attending a business function."
The choices and decisions Myron Hazen has made over the years have continually guaranteed the success of Collision Repair Center Inc. in East Moline, Ill.
Shop StatsName: Collision Repair Center Inc.
Location: East Moline, Ill.
No. of employees: 60-70
Projected annual sales volume: $2.5 million
Web site: www.crcqc.com
On ASA membership: I believe our industry needs to be a cohesive group of technicians and business owners bound into one organization. To me ASA represents just such an organization.
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