Despite the general pessimism of many small businesses, the folks at Elk River, Minn.-based ABRA Auto Body & Glass remain optimistic about the future.
“This year’s been very good,” says ABRA Auto Glass (AAG) manager Tony Shaw. “Things are finally coming back after the fall of society with COVID, everything shutting down, and nothing being normal for supply chains and the public.” ABRA Auto Glass is an independent auto glass division of ABRA Auto Body Repair of America, serving Minnesota and Western Wisconsin.
Shaw’s optimism runs counter to a November 17 survey of small businesses by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).
“The October data shows that small businesses are still recovering, and owners are not optimistic about better business conditions,” says NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg.
“Small business owners are not growing their inventories as labor and energy costs are not falling, making it a gloomy outlook for the remainder of the year.”
But not so for Shaw. AAG plans to continue seeking opportunities to expand in promising new markets throughout Minnesota and Western Wisconsin.
“The goal is to continue to grow, get more locations, and spread our footprint even farther across the state,” Shaw says. “It’d be nice to have more stand-alone glass locations to service customers easier.”
“The more locations you have, the better you can serve people because they don’t like to bring their car in for service if the shop’s not close to them,” he says. “We look for markets that we’d like to get into and try to find a good place that would give us exposure and ease of customer access.”
In 1984, Roland D. Benjamin co-founded Auto Body Refinishers of America in Fridley, Minn. The company later changed names to ABRA Auto Body and became ABRA Auto Body & Glass in 1989.
“Our ownership started back in the 1980s out of their home and grew the company from there,” Shaw says. The firm has three glass shops and five collision/glass shops. The company also services seven other ABRA franchise locations.
AAG employs 12 Auto Glass Safety Council-certified auto glass technicians. Most technicians have many years of experience, and the few rookies on staff benefit from the company’s in-house training.
“Most of our guys are pretty seasoned,” Shaw says. “We only have a couple of guys that are rookies, so to speak, in the industry.”
AAG recently renewed its 11-year-long membership in the AGSC, which Shaw says is a good marketing tool, especially for insurance agents and companies. AGSC membership assures customers by showing that “we’re doing things right,” he says.
“Customers want to make sure they’re
going to a shop that abides by a particular set of standards,” says Shaw.