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Friday, 30 May 2014 20:34

Nick Orso’s Body Shop in Syracuse, NY, Takes a High-End View

Since Nick Orso’s Body Shop was founded in 1954, their goal has been to provide “the finest in collision repair and painting services.” While this may seem to be a daunting task in itself, it’s not the only aspiration of Mike Orso, president of Nick Orso’s Body Shop in Syracuse, NY. Mike also strives to stay involved with his local community and to do his part for the environment through his shop’s many green efforts.

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Originally opened as a three-bay repair shop, Nick Orso’s Body Shop is now one of the largest independent, family-owned collision repair facilities in their area. The shop specializes in high-end vehicles, a feat requiring extensive skill and attention to detail, and their excellent craftsmanship has been displayed by the cars they’ve restored, which appear at car shows all along the East Coast.


Mike credits Nick Orso, his father and the shop’s founder, for promoting the proper values and work ethic, which has led to the shop’s success. Mike proudly notes, “customers came from all over the country for collision and specialty custom paint-work that only Nick could do. Customers would say, ‘nobody but Nick touches my car.’ Nick was self-taught and became an exceptional craftsman. He loved to fix something no one else could fix, to make something work that others gave up on, and it thrilled him to no end. Working with his hands was his passion.”

A member of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) and the Coalition for Collision Repair Excellence (CCRE), Nick Orso’s 28,000 square-foot facility employs 22 individuals repairing an average of 150 vehicles monthly and doing approximately $3 million in business annually. As part of their efforts to provide customers with a quality repair, the shop follows manufacturers’ guidelines and recommendations whenever possible. They also aid customers by providing towing services and substitute transportation, ensuring that their customers are well taken care of from the very beginning of the process. A rental fleet of 35 new Honda Accords, Civics, CRVs, and Odessey Vans are ready to roll.

Emphasis on customer service plays an integral role in Nick Orso’s Body Shop’s success. “At Nick Orso’s, satisfying our customers is the most important goal we have!” Mike Orso explains, “our whole organization is dedicated to quality control and customer service—it makes our shop successful. Whether the car is a VW, Bentley, or GMC, the repair has to fit the customer’s expectation and be as close as humanly possible to pre-loss condition.” The shop is a NAPA Approved Collision Center, with repairs covered by Nick Orso’s limited warranty and backed by NAPA nationwide.

Another way that Nick Orso’s Body Shop ensures the vehicle is repaired to the proper standards is through the use of Martin Senour’s Vortex waterborne basecoat system and clear urethane topcoat, chosen partially because of the association with Sherwin-Williams and the NAPA distribution system. According to Orso, “our NAPA distributor and the Martin Senour team were key to our success in implementing the Vortex line, and they continually train and update our staff on product improvements.” Regarding the importance of the paint system in the repair, Mike also notes, “most parts are purchased in factory primer, and we create the surface structure of primer layers to closely duplicate the factory layers on a particular make and type of vehicle.”

The decision to use the Vortex waterborne line is also “due to its green benefits, part of our effort to continue undertaking environmentally-friendly activities,” Orso explains. Orso began the transition to waterborne in 2008 when he converted two old downdraft spray booths to waterborne paint drying systems, followed by upgrading his compressor and dryer systems.

In 2013, they replaced both booths with new Sacio Zero Emission technology. Though the expense was significant, over $300,000 for the two new booths, the benefits outweigh the costs since it substantially reduces their VOC output. Orso says, “new technology affords us faster production time and faster drying time. Instead of painting five projects a day, we can do eight or ten projects a day in each booth.”

Nick Orso’s Body Shop was also the first business in their area to convert to solar power when they installed 280 solar panels on their roof, allowing them to collect enough energy to supply 90% of the power needed for the shop. Although the investment cost $400,000, a quarter of that was funded by state and federal grant money, and the project has allowed Orso to reduce electricity costs by 60–70 percent. In recognition of their positive environmental efforts, Nick Orso’s Body Shop received a citation from the New York State Assembly.

Explaining his decision, Orso states, “I wanted to have an alternative power system in my business, and we looked at everything from wind to solar power…We were the first business in our area to switch over to solar power—our project is what they wrote the code to for solar power installations. Before our project, the largest solar power installation in town was when someone put a couple panels in their front yard. No one got into a setup where the whole business was on solar power with a dual meter, where overrun could be sold back to the power company.”

In addition to their commitment to the environment, Nick Orso’s Body Shop also takes their commitment to their community very seriously. The shop is very active in supporting charities and improving social awareness, such as local Stop DWI and Zero Tolerance, Distracted Driving, and New York Move-Over Law efforts. They sponsor local youth sports activities, mentor at colleges, and speak at high school career days in their area. Nick Orso’s also supports local churches and their neighboring AIDES Resource Center, in addition to numerous other charitable contributions and services. Nick Orso’s participates in NAPA-3M’s joint effort Hire Our Heroes and participated in the Recycled Rides program where a restored car was given to a deserving family.  “At the end of the day, my goal is to give back some of what the community has given me. It’s a good feeling to pay it forward,” Mike said.

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