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At A1 Body Shop, job titles take a back seat to customer service
by Ruth Anderson
Apr 02, 2009 | 1459 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
<a href= mailto:dreid@dailysparkstribune.com>Tribune/Debra Reid</a> - A car is prepped in the paint booth at A1 Body Shop. Large diesel trucks and recreational vehicles can be painted in the 40-foot booth.
Tribune/Debra Reid - A car is prepped in the paint booth at A1 Body Shop. Large diesel trucks and recreational vehicles can be painted in the 40-foot booth.
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At A1 Body Shop on Glendale Avenue, job titles are unimportant, according to employee Tom Kidd.

“Titles are limiting,” Kidd said. “If we are held back by a title, we can’t help customers as well. We are all knowledgeable.”

“Putting people in a little box limits the effectiveness of the company,” A1 owner Jami Heiskanen said.

The auto repair shop has eight full-time employees, “and we don’t feel that it helps anyone to be their best when you give them a limiting title,” Heiskanen said.

Aside from fluid job titles, A1 stands out with state-of-the-art facilities and a staff that is willing to “go the extra mile,” according to Kidd.

“We stand out from other companies because of our follow-up and a lifetime warranty on our workmanship,” Heiskanen said.

The new facility, which opened in November 2008 but held its grand opening celebration with the Sparks Chamber of Commerce on March 19, boasts a 40-foot paint booth, 12,000 square feet of repair space and a parking area big enough to fit 30 diesel pushers.

“The grand opening was very successful,” said Kidd. “But our doors aren’t busting out with a bunch of people. It feels like we are in a state of limbo.”

The parking lot of the new facility is also enclosed by fencing and monitored by security cameras to ensure the safety of their customers’ vehicles.

“We were afraid to leave cars out,” Kidd said of their previous location on Sixth and Montello streets. The new location, on the corner of Glendale and 21st Street, is much “safer,” according to Kidd.

According to Heiskanen, the new location has also given A1 room to expand and repair larger vehicles like RVs.

Kidd said the limited snowfall this winter has decreased the number of auto accidents, and therefore the amount of business seen at the shop.

“When there is more snow, there are more accidents,” Kidd said. “I think we will have more business in April when RV season starts.”

According to Heiskanen, the company usually sees about 60 to 70 cars each month for collision repairs, each averaging about $1,750 for major and minor damages. Now, because it is slower, they are only repairing about 50 cars each month.

“We are really not that far off,” Heiskanen said. “We have probably seen about a 15 percent drop.”

However, Kidd is confident that lower gas prices and the depressed economy will encourage people to take “mini vacations” and stay closer to home. This means a much busier RV season and more repairs done locally.

“We can work on all vehicles,” Kidd said. “About 95 percent of our maintenance work is done on site and most other shops sublet. We go the extra step to make sure the customer is happy with what we do.”
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