Shop Profile - Collision Repair

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Entrepreneur's body shop ownership presents golden business prospects

Wednesday, July 6, 2016 - 07:00
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He owns three full-service collision centers that also provide mechanical repairs, yet Tom Bemiller still contends that “I’m not a car guy.”

“I’ve been in the business since I was 14, so I’ve been around long enough to know the business inside and out, but I have never repaired vehicles myself.”

At a glance:
The Aureus Group
Top Bemiller
No. of shops
Years in business
No. of DRPs
Total square footage
No. of employees
No. of bays
6 days
Average cycle time
Average repair order
Average weekly volume
No. of customer vehicles per week
$4.68 million
Annual gross revenue
Pain supplier
Car-O-Liner, Chief
Frame machines used
Estimating system used

With a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Business Administration degree from Villanova University, “my approach as a body shop owner comes strictly from a business perspective. I decided to make a career in the collision repair industry because I saw it as a great opportunity to make money,” he says.

“I do feel that my education gives me an advantage in the way that I run my business. As an owner, I don’t get caught up in the day-to-day of what’s happening in the production area. Instead, I focus my time on what can make my business more productive, efficient and marketable.”

The three shops in Pennsylvania’s lower eastern corner are located in small communities throughout three counties – Montgomery, Chester and Delaware. Aureus Auto Body is in the borough of Zieglerville, Mercer Auto Body is in Kennett Square, known as the Mushroom Capital of the World, and Ed’s Auto Body is in Brookhaven, about 15 minutes from South Philadelphia.

For the most part, the customer base consists of middle- to upper-middle class commuters to the Philly area who are long-term residents.

Measuring 9,000 square feet, Aureus has 15 bays; Mercer and Ed’s each encompass 5,000 sq. ft. with 12 bays apiece. The workforce numbers 25, and Bemiller puts considerable efforts into ensuring employee longevity.

“I am very focused on the work environment. I believe that happy employees will make happy customers, and my shops have a really low turnover rate,” he reports. “As we grow, I do not want to become like a large organization – I want to keep it personal. I’m focused on creating an organization where I put the power in the hands of my people. I not only allow people to make decisions, I expect them to make decisions.”

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