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Wednesday, 21 December 2011 22:12

McBride Auto Body in Woodland Park, NJ, Celebrates 75 Years in the Industry

Back in October Autobody News interviewed Joseph Carioti III about his NJ shop, McBride Auto Body, which had suffered flood damage from Hurricane Irene. (See Autobody News November 2011 Edition) The business was able to recover from the flooding and is back on track, but there’s more to the story.

In 2012 McBride Auto Body will be celebrating its 75th year in the automotive collision repair and refinishing industry. McBride has been owned by one family, the Cariotis, throughout its long history of industry ups and downs, the family’s ups and downs, and just plain life’s ups and downs. They have survived and persevered through it all, watching many body-shops come and go with great sadness. The owners have always fought for the rights of the auto repair shops and for the rights of the insured when it was apparent that the laws were unjust.

Joseph W. Carioti Sr. moved from Calabria, Italy in 1910 as a young boy with his family to come to America to start a new and better life.After arriving in America his family settled in Paterson, NJ, where he attended school but never got past the 8th grade due to the hard times and his family needing his wages to survive. He took on odd jobs in masonry work while the country was in its growth period of building dams and tunnels up north in Wanaque Township, NJ. Then, one day in 1937, for no reason that he could ever articulate, Carioti Sr. purchased his first gas station with a two car garage attached and began the legacy of McBride Auto Body.

McBride began with humble beginings but not shortly afterwards in the early 40’s it was clear to Carioti Sr. that a larger facility was needed so he purchased a larger building two doors down from McBride’s present location. To the new structure he added another 4,000 square-feet and opened up the second location with apartments above in which his family lived, and two additional rental units attached. Carioti Sr. always believed that common sense was a person’s best investment in life, according to Joe Carioti III.

Around 1955 Carioti Sr. was very prominent and well respected in the industry, known for fighting for the rules, rights and standards for this industry in Washington D.C with Congress, forming a new auto body association (North Jersey Automobile Association). Along the way he began one of the first salvage yards in the country. Every year he would auction off vehicles on his property to local repair facilities. He also successfully ran an appraisal service (North Jersey Appraisal Service), and a tow service (McBride Auto Body Towing Service Inc.). He had a dream to make this industry the best it could be and to set the standard at which it should operate.

In 1955 he purchased an empty lot and another gas station and built the facility in which McBride Auto Body Inc. operates today. He conceived this 10,000 square-foot facility, designed and built specially for production, cleaniness and quality of repairing and refinishing damaged vehicles. In 1955 the facility had concrete painted floors, a separate area just for frame repair, a detached spray room area with complete air recovery and circulation system, a mixing room and a hazardous material storage area. Along with this he had a separate storage area for workers tools and equipment, a storage area for old and new parts, an office separate from the work area for customers, a locker area and restroom with showers for workers convience. So, by 1955 while most body shops were operating on dirt floors out of small garages, Carioti Sr. was well ahead of the curve in setting standards that only became widespread in the late 1980s. If that wasn’t enough he also added new apartments in which the family still resides, consisting of 2,000 square-feet of living area and ten rooms. He built another two separate one bedroom apartments and a detached bungalow with a 50,000 gallon swimming pool.

Carioti Sr. had once been told that he was a dinosaur in the auto repair profession. According to Joe Carioti III, his response was, “If it was not for us dinosaurs, the rest of you would not be here.”

Sadly in the late 1980s Carioti Sr. became ill and passed away, this is when his son, Joseph W. Carioti Jr., took over to follow in his father’s footsteps. Carioti Jr. was literally raised in the auto body repair business. He was self-taught, but benefitted from the guidance of his father. He later took classes so that he could become a certified witness for the court in auto accidents and he was a valued appraiser in the state of New Jersey. He served a term in the Navy and upon his discharge came to work at the shop with his father. He spent his working life following his father’s example.

Sadly, due to poor family communication, the building in which McBride Auto Body existed at the time was lost by the family. For 20 years Carioti Jr. owned and operated McBride Auto Body in a several other locations to keep his father’s business going. Thanks to McBride Auto Body’s loyal customers it survived the hardship.

In 1989 Joseph Carioti III graduated high school and, after dreaming for 20 years of returning to his grandfather’s building, the oppurtunity presented itself. Carioti Jr. and Carioti III brought the company and the family home back where it belonged. Located within the borough of West Paterson (also known as Woodland Park), NJ.

According to Carioti III, his father was overcome with joy to be back in the place where he grew up and learned from his father how to perform automotive collision repairs.

Sadly, not soon afterwards, Carioti Jr. died in an accident. Carioti III took over the position of President of the company, owner and operator. Carioti III is I-CAR, PPG, SEM and ASE certified. He also is a valued insurance appraiser, following the same standards of excellence that accompanied his family name through this industry for the last six decades.

“I was brought up in the industry learning from my grandfather and father and with the knowledge of the industry they gave me I plan to continue the company which has lasted for so many years,” said Carioti III.

“I spent every free moment while not in school within this building, watching and learning from either men—making my mistakes along the way—but learning from them and not making the mistakes again. I may not be the oldest person in this industry or even the oldest person on my payroll but I am respected by those that I know. I am not an absentee owner. I am the first to walk in the door every morning at 6:30 a.m. and the last to leave every night at 5:30 pm. I work alongside my men and help out wherever I can. I make it a point to run my office appraising vehicles and working with insurance companies and jobbers to the standards that my grandfather set forth a long time ago, to make this one of the cleanliest and best repair facilities in the area.”

“In closing, I would like to say that there will never be another shop like McBride Auto Body, at least not in my time. I am proud to continue the legacy. This business in my family is not just a job, it’s my life. It has taken care of my family for 75 years and we will keep on trying to take care of the industry while we strive to be one of the best family-owned and family-run businesses around.”

For more information please visit the shop’s website at www.mcbrideautobody.com.

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