Technician at Rydell Collision Center and Glass uses Equalizer tools to fix a windshield.
The Rydell Group has expanded to nearly 80 stores nationally since the family-owned business opened 62 years ago. The mother store, Rydell Collision Center and Glass, is based in Grand Forks, ND.
Rydell Collision Center and Glass
Grand Forks, ND
Type: Collision Repair
Facility Employees: 35 (main location)
Number of Locations: 80
DRP Programs: 14
“We are located approximately 50 miles from the Canadian border,” said Randy Sattler, who manages Rydell Collision Center and Glass. “We are in our own little world, even though we are a huge GM dealer that sells 350 cars a month.”
Since Minneapolis and St. Paul are the closest metropolitan areas, training technicians can be a challenge. “Even though we have 20 techs on the floor and can easily fill a class, it's tough for I-CAR instructors to get here, especially if they have to fly in from somewhere other than Minneapolis or St. Paul,” explained Sattler.
About two years ago, I-CAR began offering virtual training for technicians. “It's good; better than nothing,” he said. “But it's not the same as someone physically showing you how to make a repair with a body hammer or a welder.”
Sattler added that the lack of hands-on training is something the industry should be wary of. “I think this will be a huge issue for the industry: making sure we are fixing the vehicles right,” he explained. “You can make anything look pretty.”
Despite challenges, Rydell Collision Center has recruited a great team who they can work with and trust no matter what the industry throws at them. “Our employees understand that when we make a change, it's to make sure we are positioned as a shop in the DRP world that has high performance and the certifications needed to stay in business next year, five years, and ten years down the road,” explained Sattler.
The front of Rydell Collision Center and Glass in Grand Forks, ND.
He acknowledged that most people do not like change, which is why their team is so valuable and unique. “You can't continually change your process and change your SOPs if you don't have good people who are willing to experiment and fail,” Sattler explained. “Our employees are willing to go back and reevaluate why we failed, and then say 'okay, we're going to do this different,' and that's the next step toward continuous improvement.”
Rydell Collision Center lives by the motto “Fail early, fail hard.”
“When we make a change, it's good for business and good for the employees, because it's job security,” he explained. “Without them being along for the ride, we wouldn't have a body shop.”
Although most of the employees have been there for 11 years or more, Sattler shared a story about a painter they hired this past spring. “We tried to hire him 6-7 years ago, but it was not a good fit for him at that time,” he explained. “He's one of those guys who was born and bred in the flat rate world.”
Sattler described the painter as a “blue chipper:” someone who would come in and have a positive impact on the performance of the shop. “He had to feel comfortable with what we were doing here,” he explained. “Our processes are set up so that when our shop wins, you win as an employee.”
Without the right tools, even the best employees would be at a loss, which is why Rydell Collision Center chooses Equalizer. “We've been using Equalizer since I started working here 12 years ago,” said Sattler. “We use the Ambush, Big Dawg, Ninja GT, Equalizer Air, and Viper.”
Why have they stuck with Equalizer tools for over a decade? “They work. That's the best way I can summarize it,” he said. Sattler explained that even while working on 5-6 windshields a day, they've only had to buy one tool a year.
“Before we bought the Viper, we tried somebody else's glass cutting tool,” he said. “The first time we used it, the wire broke.” After calling the company and explaining what happened, they sent them another one. “Same thing happened, it broke again,” Sattler said.
An inside look at Rydell Collision Center’s 24,000-square-foot facility.
They then decided to order the Viper from Equalizer. Two days later, the tool arrived, and it hasn't broken yet. “Their tools have astonishing durability,” he added.
When Autobody News asked if Rydell Collision Center is environmentally friendly, Sattler replied, “Absolutely. We have a recycling machine where we recycle everything we can." The shop also takes EPA and OSHA rules and requirements very seriously.
“It's extremely important to know that if at any given moment, EPA or OSHA walked through that door, we'd have nothing to worry about,” Sattler said. In order for that to be the case, employees must be pulling their weight, too.
“It goes back to how the shop is run, managed, and the expectations put on employees,” he explained. “Every day we have certain tasks that have to be accomplished. We average between 25-30 cars daily; if the maintenance is not done every single day it only takes a couple of days before the shop turns into a disaster zone.”
Rydell Body Shop is also a member of the North Dakota Auto Body Association (NDABA). Part of the 2017 State Convention will be held at their shop, which will include welding and aluminum repair demos.
“Our end goal is to help industry members in the state of North Dakota meet people and learn more about tools and training opportunities,” Sattler explained.