Able Body Shops
Ryan Cropper wanted two things for his Alaskan body shops — local support and energy efficiency. He got all that and more with Global Finishing Solutions’ (GFS) network of local distributors and Ultra® Paint Booths.
Please introduce your business and tell us your story:
Our first body shop was purchased in January 2002. We expanded our business by purchasing a second location in 2006 and another location in 2018. All three shops do collision repair for all types of vehicles.
We also own Total Truck, which is on the same site as our newest shop. At Total Truck, we sell truck accessories and do customization. We used to have to ship out work to our other locations if we needed fender flares painted. Now, we can do it on-site with all-new GFS finishing equipment.
What GFS equipment did you purchase and how has it benefited your business?
At our new location, we have a dual-bay Ultra XD Closed-Top Open-Front (CTOF) Booth and a drive-thru Ultra XD Paint Booth. They have been operational for just over a year, and they’ve been fantastic. The combination of the two is great. Because it’s a new shop, we haven’t put the booths through the true test yet, but we are still putting through about five to seven repair orders per day. Our goal is to have around 12 per day in the next year or so.
“The GFS equipment is much more efficient, especially when it comes to operational costs. In Alaska, not only is it cold, but it also lasts long throughout the year. It’s important for us to look at the efficiency of a paint booth, because in the cold weather, it’s going to cost us money to bake and heat the booth. The GFS paint booths are much more economical to run.”
How did you decide on GFS equipment?
When we added a second paint booth to our first shop in 2002, we started using GFS equipment and haven’t looked back since. Even when we do have an issue — because it’s a paint booth, and it’s going to have issues — it’s nice that we can get support very, very quickly.
Tim Cronquist and the Cronquist Equipment team have been awesome. Since they’re local, they can drive here in 10 minutes and figure out what’s going on. Putting new paint booths in, we also needed help getting them installed. Jason Garfoot, senior technical advisor at GFS, has been up here a couple of times to train our team. Compared to our other paint booths, where we had no support, it’s been fantastic.
“Local support has been one of the biggest deciding factors for us. In our remote location, local support is a big factor in my decision of what equipment to buy. We’re not in a big metro area, and we’re a long way from GFS’ headquarters in Wisconsin. Our local support has been really key to a lot of our decisions.”
I also know that our distributor has GFS to lean on for support, which factored in our decision, too. Cronquist Equipment may not have the ability to design a seismic-safe paint booth, but with Global Finishing Solutions’ experienced staff of engineers, we were able to get seismic drawings to make sure our paint booths were safe in the event of an earthquake.
In November 2018, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake hit South Central Alaska, and we had to lean on our support harder. After the earthquake occurred, our paint booth suffered zero damages. That part of the support side isn’t dealt with everywhere, so when we had inspectors who were asking questions, our local reps had GFS to lean on for that.
What is your plan for the future of your business?
First, we plan to maximize the new shop. Our other two shops are already at maximum capacity. Another focus we have is OEM certifications. We are constantly upgrading what we have and maximizing efficiency in our current locations. Tooling and equipment decisions come into play because we have to move a lot of cars. Paint booths are extremely important to us. They need to be able to work all the time and move a car through them quickly. It’s not a fast process, so it has to be done as quickly as possible.
Doing more than 20 repairs per day between all three locations, we are growing fast. We weren’t even doing $1 million in the beginning, and this year, we’ll be at $15 to $16 million in repairs, with 88 employees between all three locations.