Ohio Collision Repair Firm Building on 55 Years, Quality Work
Second generation credits success to family, employees, giving back to the community.
For more than half a century and three generations, Baker's Collision Repair Specialists has been performing quality work in Mansfield, Ohio. What began in 1953 with one man has become a thriving business with 28 employees and an annual projected sales volume of $3.2 million.
A Family Affair
DeLee Powell, the daughter of the founder, currently owns the company and attributes Baker's success to "providing a wholesome workplace for family and employees and giving back to the community."
She said Baker's having been in business for more than 55 years is not common in the collision repair industry. "We have been family-owned and -operated this entire time and work to make sure that we always look at the long-term picture to assure the stability of our business and our employees," she said.
DeLee explained that there are advantages and disadvantages of working with her sons, who are identical twins and represent the third generation of the family involved in the business. "Both of my sons work in the business," she said. "The advantage is the fact that I get to spend time with my sons almost daily. There are challenges in that they have to work harder than any of my other employees so that no one ever feels that they have an unfair advantage because they are my sons. They are learning the business from the bottom up."
Baker's Collision takes time to invest in the education of its employees while also helping to train upcoming technicians. "We are one of two collision repair facilities in Ohio that are participating in the State Apprentice Program, an 8,000 hour/four-year program that develops individuals from apprentices to journeyman in our field," DeLee said.
The education achievements of her employees are significant as well. She explained, "We are extremely goal-driven and have a strong emphasis on education." Of the 28 employees at Baker's, 15 are I-CAR Platinum individuals and six are ASE master collision repair/refinish technicians. All the technicians are ASE-certified in their specialties.
Helping to educate upcoming technicians is just part of the way Baker's Collision Repair gives back to the community. In 2008 the business participated in the "Recycled Rides" program. State Farm donated a 2003 Ford Windstar, which Baker's employees worked to repair. "Our employees used their talents and donated their time," said DeLee. "We worked with our local Rotary International and the Salvation Army and we were able to donate this vehicle to a family in need."
One of the things DeLee likes best about her job is the ability to encourage her employees to develop their talents and improve their management skills. "Being able to give my employees recognition for doing outstanding work both in their personal and professional lives is one way I can give back to them," she said.
DeLee is a Rotarian and has served as I-CAR chairman for Mansfield, Ohio. She is a member of the National Auto Body Council and a member of the North Central Claims Association where she served as secretary from 2002-2006. She also is a member of the Sherwin-Williams A+ Vision Group, where she currently serves as secretary.
Having a Voice
DeLee has continued the business' membership in the Automotive Service Association, following the example of her father, who joined the Independent Garage Owners (I.G.O.) in the late 1950s. "I.G.O. changed to ASA, and to the best of my knowledge, we have been members ever since," she said. "I have continued our membership because we have a voice at both the state and federal levels of government."
Awards & Accolades
The business' marketing is something DeLee takes personally. She handles about 80 percent of the company's marketing. This personal investment has paid off in more than one way, but especially in Web site visibility. In 2007 the business received one of AutoInc.'s Top 10 Web Sites awards.
Baker's Collision has also received several customer service awards in the past few years. "We received the AutoChex Customer Satisfaction Premier Achiever Award in 2002 from Allstate Insurance Company," said DeLee. "In 2007, Baker's Collision Repair received the same award from Nationwide Insurance Company." DeLee attributes a low employee turnover rate for their continued success in the area of customer satisfaction. "We have a dedicated staff and we emphasize customer satisfaction," she said.
Room for Improvement
Planning for slow, continued growth is one way DeLee keeps her eye on the future of the family business. "We have targeted growth for the collision repair segment of our business," she said. "We offer general mechanical repairs to our current customers and plan controlled growth in this area, where we currently employ two full-time technicians."
Baker's is continuing to work toward a more lean production process. "If I could change one thing about our business it would be the production area floor layout," she said. "I am currently working to implement additional lean concepts to improve performance in areas of sales, customer satisfaction, technician efficiencies, quality and profitability."
In the past 50 years the business has grown from 1,200 square feet to 18,500 square feet. The staff has grown tremendously, too, but the mission has remained the same: "Baker's is committed to exceeding customer expectations by providing the highest quality and service with uncompromising integrity." DeLee and her family will continue working to see that the business meets its goals and sets new ones in the years to come.
Name of Shop: Baker's Collision Repair Specialists
Editor's note: To learn more about ASA's PAC, visit www.TakingTheHill.com.
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Copyright (c) 1996-2011. Automotive Service Association®. All rights reserved.