Monday, 05 February 2007 11:37

Shop takes efficiency to a new level

Written by Richard Neubauer

As Brian Gutierrez walks through the new, 30,000 sq. ft. Mossy Certified Collision Center in San Diego, the techs call out to him:

"Hey, Brian, what’s up man."

"Brian, I got a problem with this frame. You got time for me?"

Gutierrez stops, examines the damaged frame and talks about the repair. Not exactly what you’d expect of a salesman, but Gutierrez isn’t your usual shop equipment salesman. "I’m one of them because I started in body shops. Started my family and put myself through college as a body man and shop manager. I still don’t think of myself as a salesman. I’m a consultant. First we ‘talk shop.’ We find the right solution for their problems, then I deliver the right equipment. I’m always looking for a long-term partnership with the customer."

Gutierrez’s company, Equip Automotive Systems, has become a partner with some of the largest body shops in Southern California over the past five years. From its offices in a Santee industrial park, the firm sells Jollift lifts and bench systems for frame repair, Elektron spot-welding equipment and their own line of parts handling carts and racks.

The shop area was busy on a recent morning as employee Joe Becerra assembled a parts rack while George Diaz loaded parts into a service van. The service calls are coordinated by Gutierrez’s adult daughter, Nataley , who manages the office. The company sells and services equipment throughout San Diego and Orange Counties, Los Angeles and the Inland Empire.

"Bob Mazmanian covers North Hollywood and the Valley, most of northern LA, and then we’ve got Frank Wilson in Riverside and San Bernardino and some eastern parts of LA. They’ve both got years of experience in this industry. They’re consultants, just like me," said Gutierrez about his two field reps.

From body man to business owner

Gutierrez started working in body shops not long after high school. He completed vo-tech training and advanced quickly, working in both independent and dealer-owned body shops. "I was the highest paid tech in the shop, then I worked as shop foreman and assistant manager. But I always knew that I wanted more. I felt like I had a different calling."

{mospagebreak}So Gutierrez went back to school at night. "It was a long struggle, with a job and family, but I earned my degree at San Diego State." Degree in hand, Gutierrez worked with Celette Corporation, quickly moving into management. But when that company moved to the Midwest, Gutierrez knew it was time for his own business.

"There’s a huge quality problem in the industry. I wanted to build a shop that could make money doing quality work, but then I thought I could have a bigger impact by helping others get the profit and quality in their shops. That’s why I started Equip."

The transition from a job with a good salary to independent businessman wasn’t easy. "Tough, very tough at first. A lot of investment," said Gutierrez. And that investment continues today. In order to offer the best prices on equipment, Equip has to purchase an entire shipping container of goods. "I’ll get 20-40 Elektron spot welders at a time and inventory them here," said Gutierrez, pointing to racks of inventory in his warehouse. "Anyone doing quality work today must have a spot welder for OEM-quality welds, especially on the new steel like Boron. We have several models to fit the needs of different shops." Gutierrez noted that Elektron welders performed very well in a recent test of spot welding equipment conducted by Los Angeles I-CAR chairman Toby Chess (see for welder details and comparisons.)

Friends in Europe turned him on to another line: Jollift lifts and collision repair benches.

"Shops always had these huge frame racks, and they were a production bottleneck. We needed lighter equipment that could be used to repair most sedans and that you could afford to have in each tech’s work area. We also needed affordable lifts that can raise the vehicle up to a better working height and save a guy’s back from the constant bending over. I saw Jollift, which is made in Italy, and I knew it was what I’d been looking for."

Mossy Collision, a Toyota-certified shop for which Equip helped design the workflow, has over 10 Jollift lifts and repair benches installed, including two in the estimating bay.

"This shop is about as efficient as you’re going to find,"said manager Dave Carter, "and Brian (Gutierrez) had a big role in making it that way."

Equip Automotive Systems, Inc.

10020 Prospect Ave. A-14

Santee, Ca. 92071


Last modified on Friday, 02 December 2016 23:39