If the Top Shops contest offered a separate award category for most congenial shop, Moody's Collision Centers could make a strong case for taking the prize. That's not saying the other shops in the contest aren't run by nice, thoughtful people – they all are!
IMAGES / MOODY'S COLLISION CENTERS
The Gorham, Maine, -based business stands out because its transformation in just eight years from a modest standalone shop to a powerhouse multi-shop operator is due largely to a business plan sparked by its owner's altruism and fueled by a design.
Moody's was founded in 1977 by a 17-year-old Shawn Moody who took out a $6,000 loan to purchase a one-quarter acre lot and construct a small three-bay shop. The property abutted a 35-acre junkyard that 11 years later was targeted for closure by the city as a blight.
Sensing an opportunity where others saw a budding environmental disaster, Moody purchased the yard, cleaned it up and transformed it into one of the leading auto recyclers in the country. So successful was the salvage business that in 1998 both Ford and LKQ put in offers to buy it, with LKQ eventually walking away with the prize.
Moody came away from the transaction with something arguably better – the means and motivation to turn his collision business into something special. Repairs became his sole focus, and because he was no longer in the parts business, he could grow his business since he no longer had to worry about competing with other shops that also were his customers.
The shop's Employee Stock Ownership Program has helped turn these workers into business owners with all the benefits and responsibilities.
Within a few short years, Moody added a second location. Five more followed, making Moody's the largest independent collision repairer in New England, according to its owner.
Moody points to a lot of factors for the quick growth of his business. He runs a lean operation and invests heavily in I-CAR training. He utilizes state-based grants to enroll career-track employees in a college-accredited curriculum that focuses on leadership, communication and improving worker chemistry and collaboration.
While other shops invest equally in education, Moody's employees arguably are provided with more motivation to their training to work. They have a far greater stake in the success of the business thanks to a benefits program that has made them part owners.