Shop Owner Sees Fly-In As Chance
|From left are Milton Whittaker, the owner of Rio Rancho Paint & Body Shop; Tommy Cain and Jason Dante. Cain and Dante drive the tow truck for Rio Rancho Paint & Body Shop and help out in the shop as needed.|
May 10 will be a little different for Milton Whittaker. Milton, the owner of Rio Rancho Paint & Body Shop in Rio Rancho, N.M., will get up, as usual, about 6 a.m. He'll get ready for the day, have breakfast, kiss his wife and three kids goodbye and head out the door. But instead of going to his shop, he'll drive to the airport in Albuquerque.
He'll board a plane and a few hours later, find himself in Washington, D.C.
There he will participate in the Taking The Hill Fly-In and AMI Leadership Conference scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, May 11 and 12.
Milton attended last year's Fly-In, which was held in July.
He's planning on attending this year's Fly-In, he said, because ASA members' meeting face-to-face with congressmen "is critical to our industry."
More than 70 ASA members participated in the event in 2009, and even more are expected this year. Last year's Fly-In was primarily geared toward Collision Division members. This year, Mechanical Division members will also be participating.
Milton and the others will have an opportunity to send a strong message to federal policymakers on important industry issues. Meeting with the representatives and senators face-to-face has great impact. And the large presence of so many automotive service and repair professionals also impresses the congressional representatives.
It can't help but reinforce their messages when legislators realize that all of the men and women with whom they are meeting have each paid their own hard-earned money to fly to the nation's capitol and stay two nights in a hotel. It shows they are serious about the opportunity to discuss issues that are vital to them and the whole automotive industry.
Why is Milton willing to bear the expense and inconvenience of participating? "Because," he says, "the automotive service and repair industry is facing some critical issues and if we don't show up and speak up, then we have no one but ourselves to blame if the right decisions aren't made when our representatives and senators deal with these issues." He also sees it as an opportunity to "give back" to the industry that has afforded him a good living.
Milton's willingness to represent fellow repairers is not a surprise to his peers - because he is known as a "mover and shaker" in the ASA-Central New Mexico chapter. He's a past president and is currently serving as vice president. He's well-liked and highly respected.
He's also an industry veteran, having been in business 33 years.
A native of Jamaica, he came to the United States when he was 17. His love for the automotive service and repair industry stemmed from his dad, who worked on the mechanical side.
After graduating from high school, Milton attended the Technical Vocational Institute in Albuquerque. He has many certificates earned by attending I-CAR classes and other business training and seminars.
He also has been extremely active in ASA.
|Milton Whittaker is shown with his wife, Arleen.|
His wife, Arleen, works with him in the business. "The advantage," says Milton, "is that I have someone I can trust and can leave the business for a while without worrying about it."
What makes his business unique, says Milton, is that he always puts God in the center of everything, including the day-to-day running of the business. "We are honest with our customers about their repairs and what they are up against," he says. "As a result, our customers introduce us to other customers. We don't advertise; we get new business from these customer referrals."
Milton says what he likes best about his job is seeing how happy and pleased a customer is with the work that has been done to restore his or her vehicle that has been in a collision. "It makes my day and makes me feel like I have accomplished something," says Milton.
It hasn't always been clear sailing during Milton's more than three decades in business. For example, the current economic downturn and the fact his shop is not in a direct repair program with an insurance company have negatively impacted his shop, says Milton. Not long ago, he had five employees - now he has just three, including himself. But Milton has added a towing service and that compensates for the body shop's shortfall. He also sees a bright future for his firm.
"One thing that would help would be for us to get more technologically advanced," says Milton. "We have to purchase more advanced equipment for repairs because of the new cars that have been introduced and because of the new metals that have come into the automotive field."
Meantime, Milton is busy running the business as smoothly as possible. And, speaking up in the halls of Congress and elsewhere for the industry he loves.
Name of Shop: Rio Rancho Paint & Body Shop
Location: Rio Rancho, N.M.
Square Footage of Shop: 5,000 square feet
Number of Years in Business: 33
Number of Employees: Three (including owner)
Number of Repairs per week: About three
Projected Annual Sales: More than $287,000
Why Milton Is a Member of ASA: "I joined ASA because I saw it as a tool to help my business. I continue to be a member because it provides ongoing education and keeps me abreast of technology changes in the automotive industry."
AutoInc. Web Site |
ASA Web Site |
NCOIL Punts Crash Parts Decision ... Again |
Getting Buy-In for the Lean Machine |
No Trespassing! |
Is Advertising Right for Your Shop? |
'Why Isn't My Advertising Working?' |
Tech to Tech |
Tech Tips |
News Briefs |
Around ASA |
Shop Profile |
Net Worth |
Members' Advantage |
Chairman's Message |
Guest Editorial |
Direct OEM Access Available to ASA Members During CARS, NACE 2010 |
AMI Accepting Applications For CARS, NACE Scholarships |
IBIS Celebrates 10 Years
|Add RSS headlines.|