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Monday, 08 December 2014 00:00

Remie’s Body Shop in West TX Adapting to Change

Remies Body Shop has been putting west Texas cars and pickups back in shape for 55 years. Things automotive were different when Remijio Ramos started the business in 1959.

“My dad used lead and lacquer,” recalled Ramiro Ramos, Remijio’s son and now owner of the company. 

“We used to be in the body repair business; now we’re into parts replacement,” Ramiro said, referring to body components, many of which now contain electronics.

Leaning back in his desk chair, Ramos tallied 135 years of combined experience for his six-man repair staff. “One of my painters is 80; you can’t replace that,” he said, continuing, “Body paints have gone from lacquer to enamel to polyurethane to now water-based; and our paint booth has filters on the in and the out” for quality and emissions control.

He said that next year Ford’s F-150 pickups will be all aluminum bodies. Just one more change he and his guys get to roll with.

In 1979, two years after Ramiro started in his father’s company, I-CAR, the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair, formed. It is a collaboration of collision repair industries, including body shops, insurers, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), researchers and trainers, and equipment suppliers.  Ramos and his employees maintain current certifications through I-CAR educational programs, both online and at seminars.

Remie’s is a bit off the beaten track at 6th and Park streets, east of Sanderson Hwy. and north of Rooney Park. “To me, at this point, location means nothing,” Ramos said. He’s booking for January, eight weeks out, and says people do wait because he stands behind his work and is honest with them.

“I show them the calendar and let them pick a date,“ he said.

It doesn’t matter how much business, word of mouth or otherwise, he has, though. “People coming here don’t care about the 50 cars on the lot; they care about one – theirs.”

Ramos said he regularly sees customers from as far away as Presidio.

When Ramiro came into the business in 1977, his mom was a partner. His dad eased into retirement in the early 1980’s. Company founder, Remijio Ramos, passed away six years ago. Ramiro’s youngest son, Ramsey, partnered into the business four years ago.

“I told my son, ‘There’s no help available; if you stay with it, you’ll have a solid niche,’” Ramiro said.

“My priority is keeping a family atmosphere,” Ramiro said. By this he was referring to things like being flexible when employees have family commitments and when things come up that they need to do. He says this is in keeping with the small-town personality of his company.

Remie’s Body Shop has two office assistants who, according to Ramos, are in “constant negotiation with insurance companies.” He likened it to a medical office with all the overhead that comes with insurance-related paperwork.

Ramiro and his wife of 35 years, Elsa, raised three children in Fort Stockton. Elsa was in banking “since before we married,” he said. Their other son, Remijio, is also in banking and is the sports reporter for this newspaper.

Rachelle, their daughter, has another year and a half of medical residency and plans to return to Fort Stockton to practice medicine. “She’s lived in and enjoyed a few cities, but there’s no place like home,” said Ramos.

Ramos recently completed and “had to step back from” six years as the small business representative on the Fort Stockton Economic Development Corporation board of directors.

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