High-Volume Georgia Body Shop Thriving with Slow & Steady Growth

Thomas Collision Center
📍 Valdosta, GA

James Thomas has never been afraid of doing more. The higher the volume, the higher the profit at Thomas Collision Center, where refined processes and new equipment from Global Finishing Solutions (GFS) has Georgia’s fourth-largest body shop by volume running like a well-oiled machine.

Please introduce your business and tell us your story:

“I was a painter growing up, working at a dealership when I was in high school. I then moved to Oklahoma City and became a painter for Lexus, working for Lexus for almost five years while my wife went to dental school. Working for Lexus taught me a lot about processes — quality control sheets, check sheets, checkpoints and quality control points. Process is how you turn volume. I noticed that one person doesn’t have to oversee everything. You put checkpoints and processes into place, and things pretty much move themselves.

I moved back to my hometown after my wife graduated from her residency at the University of Florida, and I built a small shop of about 10,000 square feet. It was just me and one other employee for about three years, then we joined several direct repair programs (DRPs) and slowly started expanding. Being on the top DRPs, you have to maintain your training, so we continued learning and got good at what we do.”

What services do you offer and what kinds of jobs do you usually perform?

“We are a high-volume insurance claims processing facility — with 55,000 square feet spanning two buildings. We are not a typical body shop. We are a direct repair shop for 10 major insurance companies. We are processing claims all day. We process about 60 claims a week, and we have about 110 cars at our facility at all times.”

What GFS equipment did you purchase and how has it benefited your business?

“An AkzoNobel consultant came in to evaluate my business. He told me, ‘I think you can increase your revenue by 20 percent.’ I told him, ‘There’s no way.’ He laid out a plan for expanding the shop and changing processesIt was his idea to add another spray booth and create a staging process. I added an Ultra Paint Booth from GFS, for a total of three Ultra Paint Booths and an Ultra XD Paint Mix RoomMy distributor, Shop Teks Equipment Specialists, did a fantastic job putting it together. These spray booths run all day and are the best tool in my facility. They are bulletproof.”

How did you decide on GFS equipment?

I first saw GFS equipment at the SEMA Show. I didn’t buy GFS paint booths just because I like the way they look. I already had done my research  the gauge thickness of the metal, how the dampers work, all that stuff. What I like about GFS equipment is that it is so userfriendly. The spray booths correct themselvesIf painters don’t change exhaust filters on time, the paint booth will tell you when the filters need replacing. The GFS equipment has been even better than I expected. We change the filters weekly, we grease the motors twice a year and we haven’t had any problems.

What is your plan for the future of your business?

When someone grows and evolves slowly, they are able to navigate problems and learn from experiences versus buying a high-volume shop and seeing if you survive. We have 29 people working here now, and I don’t have to micromanage any of them. just focus on repairing cars and processing claims. I’m going to ride it and enjoy it as long as I can.”

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