Repairing commercial trucks is a complex undertaking that requires a lot of space, which is why there aren’t a lot of shops that specialize in big rig work. Rickman, Tenn.-based Fitzgerald Collision & Repair has successfully taken an assembly-line approach to fleet repair – and is poised to continue its rapid growth.
Earlier this year, Fitzgerald announced a major expansion that will eventually create 220 new jobs in Tennessee. The company will invest $9 million to expand an existing facility in Rickman, Tenn., and also establish new operations in Sparta. The expansion was made possible, in part, through incentives from the state Department of Economic and Community Development.
Fitzgerald also announced a new vocational program and partnership with Tennessee College of Applied Technology, which will offer students training in commercial truck maintenance and repair.
“There’s no question that the logistics and transportation industry is a crucial part of Tennessee’s economy,” said community development commissioner Bob Rolfe. “Fitzgerald Collision & Repair is a homegrown success story that plays an important role in Tennessee’s growing transportation sector. We look forward to the impact this 220-job expansion will have on residents in White and Overton counties.”
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The Fitzgerald family has a long history in Tennessee and is one of the leading providers of glider kits in the U.S. The collision business is relatively new, and was established in 2014 to provide rapid repair services for commercial fleets across the U.S.
According to company founder and CEO Robert Fitzgerald, one of the company’s biggest fleet customer, U.S. Express, suggested that the company’s rapid, assembly-line approach to glider kits could be ported over to repairing commercial truck fleets. “That idea stuck in my head, and a year and a half later I ran across an empty building in [Rickman],” Fitzgerald says.
Speed has been the key to the company’s success. “For a large fleet, every day that truck is working is worth about $650 a day in revenue. Most typical truck body shops will take 28 to 58 days to repair a truck, and that’s a lot of lost revenue for a big company that might have a lot of wrecks,” Fitzgerald said.