When auto body shop owner Burl Richards presented a set of keys and an SUV to Becky Whiteside, he said it was a great feeling to give back to someone in need.
The owner of Burl’s Collision Center in Henderson, Texas, held a contest in late 2015 inviting the local community to write a short summary about why they needed a dependable vehicle.
One of the managers in his shop had suggested the idea, after hearing about a body shop in Arkansas that had done something similar. “I thought to myself, ‘We have to do this,’” said Richards.
Applicants had the following criteria: they had to be a single mom, have a job or actively searching for one, include a resume and write why they needed the car.
Richards received 10 applications and local Lions Club members in Henderson assisted in the decision-making process. “It was a hard decision and I wish we could have done this for every one of them,” said Richards.
Whiteside, a single mom, was presented with the vehicle in December 2015.
(L to R) Sabrina and Burl Richards of Burl's Collision Center presented the keys and SUV to Becky Whiteside.
The SUV had originally been in a front-end crash. Richards said the insurance company did not want to repair the vehicle or pay the storage fees, and it was deemed totaled. He talked to the insurance company about giving the car away after it was repaired. “They were very surprised and said it was a great thing that we’re doing and sent the title ASAP,” said Richards.
Ten of his employees spent about two weeks restoring the 2008 Mitsubishi Endeavor. “They really embraced the idea and were excited about doing it,” said Richards. “They worked after-hours as well and just enjoyed the entire process.”
Local businesses also showed their support: ABC Auto Parts donated the radiator, condenser, brakes and other parts; Big Daddy’s donated a navigation system; Custom Tint & Design tinted the windows; English Color Paint & Supply painted the vehicle; Gillman Mitsubishi offered discounted rates on parts; Kilgore Tire Center donated four new tires; and SIG Insurance provided six months of free insurance.
Richards, president of the Auto Body Association of Texas (ABAT), said they made it a priority to use OEM parts for the vehicle and his vendors were happy to help with pricing. “There was never a thought of using aftermarket parts,” said Richards. “With the quality and fit issues that we see with using aftermarket parts, and the fact that we request OEM every day from insurance companies, I felt it would be hypocritical to use anything other than OEM. He said that he wanted the recipient of the vehicle to have confidence that it was repaired properly using OEM parts.
“I hear insurers tell us all the time that we are greedy because we want to be paid for processes and procedures that are necessary to restore vehicles to their pre-loss conditions,” said Richards. “It’s good to know and they know, it’s not all about making money. We chose OEM parts, we didn’t cut corners, we repaired the vehicle properly, and we spent free time after hours because it would help out a needy family. You can’t put a price on that.”
His advice to other shops considering doing something similar is to do it! “Your employees will embrace it and it will give them a great sense of accomplishment. “Your local community will appreciate it as well,” said Richards.
After being in business for 18 years, he said the surrounding community is very supportive of his business and the employees every day. “It is a great feeling to share your blessings with others, and I think it is our responsibility to give back to those in need.”