In 2011, when Albuquerque, N.M.-based Car Crafters was first named as a Top Shop, owner Jim Guthrie proved as elusive as a March hare when ABRN attempted to locate him for an interview. Guthrie could be excused for the disappearing act. The long-time racing enthusiast had just slammed into a wall while traveling over 200 MPH and nearly broken his neck.
He's healed up now, racing again and delving into fresh marketing ventures – some of them perilous in their own way – to keep business flowing into a recently expanded, cavernous 70,000-sq.-ft. shop.
Marketing Manager Kevin Klein and receptionists Aleah Brown and Monica Witkowski wait to greet customers in Car Crafters' spacious lobby. (IMAGES / CAR CRAFTERS)
When ABRN last spoke to Guthrie, he was adding 20,000 square feet of space to his 30-year-old business in order to add mechanical repairs. That addition was to be a significant piece of the shop Guthrie had always wanted – an ultra-lean, super efficient production facility where he could offer a full range of services, all under one roof. Along with mechanical work, the extra space provides extra-large doors where parts can be delivered then inventoried (particularly important due to the shop's isolated locale where sourcing parts can cause delays), along with a state-of-the-art laser wash system. It also includes an area devoted to race car fabrication.
Guthrie says the addition already is paying dividends. The shop can now more efficiently handle its parts business. It no longer has to send vehicles out for mechanical work and is building its own mechanical service business. The laser wash system has proven itself an absolute boon to the shop's cycle time.
A towering marquee sign includes a digital screen to attract customers.
"In a shop our size it wasn't odd for a number of cars to be finished at the end of the day, but they still needed washed, which means we couldn't return them until the next day," says Guthrie. "Now we can wash a car in five minutes and save a day of cycle time."
With business running smoothly and Car Crafters generating more than $12 million a year, Guthrie now spends 80 percent of his time running a speedway he purchased in February. This speedway, which recently hosted the NASCAR INEX Legends Qualifier Race, plays an important role in a strategy to market the shop to customers.
Mechanic Mario Truden Sr. works on President Jim Guthrie's drift car in the shop's addition.
"It allows us to cross promote the shop," says Guthrie. "It's part of the out-of-the-box thinking we want to use to draw attention to the shop with things like car shows and community events."