Another feature is a large indoor drive-through estimating lane that includes direct access to the reception area and offices housing insurance company personnel.
The shop's 16-plus direct repair program (DRP) affiliations account for 95 percent of its business. "I go out and meet with the agencies" to foster positive relationships with the insurers, says Mueller, who adds that obtaining steady and appropriate labor rate payments remains an issue.
"There's no consistency among the insurance companies," he says. "It's just crazy. The cost of living is higher in my area."
Calling for "a level playing field for everybody," Mueller says that "the insurance companies keep changing, and it puts a squeeze on the shops. I wish there was some kind of standardization – it's getting cumbersome."
Coming to Curry
Having logged more than 30 years in the industry, Mueller recalls painting his first car when he was 13 and owning his first body shop at 16. "I got sucked into it by my older brother." When Roger Mueller was blinded in a tragic car crash caused by a drunken driver, young Ron Mueller dropped out of school (he later earned a general equivalency diploma) to assist in running Blinky's Auto Body – named for Roger's vision problems.
Ron went on to work for several body shops, both at dealerships and stand-alone operations. "When you are with dealer shops and independents you see both worlds," he says.
As time went on and with increasing levels of experience under his belt, "a few of the vendors knew I was looking for a painting job, and they said, 'You need to work at Curry.'"
He was most impressed when both owners – Cary Curry and Craig Richards – conducted the interview. Upon moving into the senior shop spot when manager Mel Riggs retired, Mueller was asked by Curry and Richardson to help design the new facility.
Mueller anticipates participating in further Curry enhancements: "They have purchased the building next door, and if the economy improves we can possibly expand into that."