With experience in the industry dating back to the late ‘60s, Jim Smiciklas, owner and general manager of Express Collision Center, has taught many certification classes and instilled his proven processes and management systems into owners and employees of independent shops and dealerships across the country. After working as a consultant for shop owners, painters and trainers for more than 40 years, Jim and his wife Renee decided to “practice what they preach” and open their own shop, Express Collision Center, in October 2011.
Serving Las Vegas with auto body and collision repair services, Express is a zero DRP environment with a focus on exceptional quality and customer satisfaction. Handling all makes and models, their technicians are trained and approved by General Motors, Audi, BMW and Volkswagen. They also specialize repairing Corvettes and are affiliated with many local Corvette clubs, as well as specializing in Mazdas, which are known for having the most technical paint colors on the market.
Over the past three years, Express Collision Center has grown at a steady rate of 30 percent each year, leading them to quickly outgrow their previous building. In January 2018, Express moved their operation to a new location only a few miles from the strip in Las Vegas, Nevada. With only 8,000 square feet to spare, Jim knew that efficient processes would be extremely important for the success of the new shop. As he started to look into equipment that can accommodate a smaller footprint and still get a big return, Jim reached out to Max Hirsch of Maximum Equipment.
In a building with no natural gas, Jim’s only alternative was to use propane in his new shop. Knowing he would continuously suck the tanks dry if he baked with propane, he started looking into other options. One option was a gas catalytic curing unit, but since it needed to preheat before each cycle, he wasn’t interested in receiving a large electric bill for unnecessary preheating processes. Hirsch suggested REVO Accelerated Curing Systems from Global Finishing Solutions (GFS), which can be turned on only when needed and reach curing temperature in less than a second.
“Max suggested visiting a local shop with REVO Systems installed, so my painter and I visited Joel Smith at the Precision for Collision training center in Sacramento, California,” Jim explains, “My painter spent the day with an Axalta representative, spraying in the GFS booths and using the REVO Systems, and I spent time with Joel learning more about the equipment and infrared technology. By the time we left that day, we were convinced that was the way to go.”
Jim and Renee are now proud owners of a GFS Ultra XD Mix Room and two Ultra XR Booths — one fully equipped with GFS’ exclusive roof-integrated SpaceSaver heat system, AdvanceCure Accelerated Airflow System and REVO Accelerated Curing Systems. A parking garage located between the Ultra XR booths allows their REVO Speed to easily move between the booths, and is currently the only REVO unit in the state of Nevada.
“I like being on the front end of technology,” Jim adds, “by the time our competitors catch up, I’ll be retired.”
The shop also added a few mobile REVO units after the initial booth purchase. Utilizing their new REVO Spot and REVO Handheld in their prep processes, they are now a fully-equipped, rapid-cure shop from start to finish. “You have to cure throughout the entire process,” Smith mentioned to Jim, “You can’t just cure at the end to get the same quality. It’s like building a race car and putting recapped tires on it.”
“I like that our repairs are 100 percent cured before they leave the shop. It gives us the ability to offer a warranty, our paint jobs are much cleaner and there is less settling on a fresh paint job, which means less buffing. A 100 percent cure gives a similar chip and scratch resistance as factory paint jobs,” Jim explains.
As for the future of Express Collision Center, Jim plans to retire and sell the business to his assistant manager, Kurt, who shares the same vision and business model that he grew the business on, which is to treat their customers like friends and employees like managers.