Carlsbad, CA, February 6, 2018 – NOTE: This October SPS profile was originally published in print in September 2017, and published online in October 2017.
The original Baker Collision was founded in Mansfield, OH, in 1952 by Mervin Baker, who learned the trade from his brother-in-law who had just returned home from World War II.
His daughter now runs the Ohio shop, but in 2011, Mervinâ€™s son, Larry Baker, relocated to South Carolina, opening Baker Collision Express in Irmo before expanding his operation to include shops in Lexington and Columbia, SC, where his son and daughter both have active roles in the business.
Shops need to pay close attention and elevate their training and equipment. Changing technology is one of the reasons GYS welders are so high-tech and meet OEM certification requirementsâ€”I call them 'smart welders' because they measure and gauge metal thickness automatically.
Owner, Baker Collision Express
Since beginning work in the collision repair industry in 1977, Larry Baker has achieved a great deal of success in his business, which he credits to his religious beliefs.
â€œMy faith has played a large part in my business and its success. I try to be true to my faith in Jesus and follow his principles of respect, dignity, honor and love by treating others the way I want to be treated. That includes everyone from my employees to vendors to customers; treat them right, and hopefully, it will bring success,â€� Baker said.
Bakerâ€™s philosophy extends to the way he views customer service, and the value of treating people well is evident by the fact that 35-40 percent of his customers return to Baker Collision Express for their future auto body needs.
â€œWhen shops do a lot of volume, they have a tendency to start processing people, but we take customer service seriously,â€� Baker explained. â€œYour view of people and your interactions with them make you stand out, because people can tell if you care or if youâ€™re just trying to turn a buck. Making money is a by-product of doing business well. You lose your focus on the customer if you see making money as the top priority.â€�
This emphasis on customer service is one of the many reasons Baker looks to GYS Welding USA for his welding equipment.
He said, â€œI work directly with GYS owner Mike Hildebrand, and he takes great care of me. Weâ€™ve had no problems with any of GYSâ€™ equipment, and it was very easy to implement. GYS did a wonderful job training my employees, so they were ready to use the equipment immediately. The transition was seamless. My technicians love our GYS products because it makes their jobs easier.â€�
Baker Collision Express began using GYS Weldingâ€™s best spot welders and pulse welders in all three locations during the fall of 2015. Baker has also invested in a dent system from GYS.
According to Baker, â€œYou can see by looking at the water-cooled equipment that itâ€™s high quality, and I feel itâ€™s much better than other options on the market. It is definitely much easier and faster than plug welding which we did before, and which did not truly replicate the factory weld like GYS welders do. You simply squeeze the trigger, spot weld it, and thatâ€™s itâ€”itâ€™s much faster and better! Iâ€™m very pleased with the equipment from GYS Welding, and Iâ€™m grateful for the opportunity to share my experiences with other people. I highly recommend GYSâ€™ products!â€�
With 40,000 square feet of production space between the three locations, Baker Collision Express re- pairs an average of 500 vehicles monthly. In addition to being I-CAR Gold certified, all three South Carolina facilities have been OEM-certified by Honda/Acura, Nissan, Infiniti, Chrysler, Jeep and Ford (including aluminum).
Their use of GYS products has also been helpful since they comply with most OEM certification requirements. The shops service three DRPs and spray with Spies Hecker paints.
Beyond complying with all EPA guidelines, Baker Collision Express is very environmentally conscious and involved with its community. Baker Collision in Ohio has donated 15 cars to Recycled Rides, and now Baker is excited that his South Carolina shops are preparing to donate their first Recycled Ride to a local veteran this fall.
â€œWe support community efforts and are heavily involved in the greater good of our community because itâ€™s important to make where we live a better place,â€� Baker said.
Looking at advancements made in the collision repair industry, Baker said he feels the biggest game chan-ger is the technology coming out in new cars, such as advanced safety features and autonomous vehicles.
â€œShops need to pay close attention and elevate their training and equipment,â€� he said. â€œChanging technology is one of the reasons GYS welders are so high-tech and meet OEM certification requirementsâ€”I call them â€˜smart weldersâ€™ because they measure and gauge metal thickness automatically.â€�
He said the industry has gone nearly unchanged for half a century, but we will see more change in the next five years than in the past 50.
â€œCars are stronger and lighter with more technology, and thatâ€™s only increasing,â€� he said. â€œThereâ€™s more code in 2017 vehicles than in an F-15 fighter jet! Everyoneâ€™s talking about it, but we need to do more than just talkâ€”we need to accommodate it because these technological advancements will require more training and equipment to properly repair vehicles.â€�
When asked about problems heâ€™s noticed in the industry, Baker responded that they have none, because itâ€™s all about perspective.
â€�Instead, we have learning opportunities that we use as triggers for improvement,â€� he said.
Baker Collision Express
Company At A Glance…
Type: Collision Repair
Facility Employees: 52
In Business Since: 1952
Number of Locations: Three
DRP Programs: Three
Combined Production Space: 40,000 square feet
GYS Welding USA
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Source: Autobody News
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