The artistry is the work of various art students at Allan Hancock College, who’ll be profiled in a future issue of the Sun. But before the boxes make it to Hancock, they first get a twice-over at Premier Auto Body in Santa Maria, where they get sanded-down and receive a fresh coat of primer paint.
When the Sun put in the call, owners Hector Paz Sr. and Jr. were happy to oblige. But as you’ve guessed, Premier isn’t in the business of sanding and priming newspaper boxes.
Premier is a collision repair and auto body painting facility that the Paz family has developed into one of the most reputable in Santa Maria. Make no mistake, they’re not mechanics; their business is bodywork, detailing, and making your car look good again.
Their motto is: “Where we meet our customers by accident,” which is fitting, because it’s where auto insurance companies send their clients’ damaged automobiles. It’s a saying that the elder Paz’s wife came up with.
The shop is considered “VIP,” or a shop recommended by insurance companies to their policyholders. It’s also a direct repair facility. Achieving this status is not easy, the elder Paz said.
The Paz family began its business in August 2009, right in the middle of the recession. Starting a business is risky to begin with, but in the middle of an economic crisis is entirely different matter.
“It was probably the craziest thing in the world to start a business at that time,” the elder Paz told the Sun. “It made for a much more difficult startup.”
In order to get clients, the Pazes first needed to establish a reputation within the community. How did they do it? Quality work, integrity, and superb customer service, for starters, according to the owners.
“We treat customers with white gloves,” Paz Sr. said. “Also, the fact that it’s family-owned helps a lot, and not a corporate name.”
And perhaps their military backgrounds helped a little, too. The younger Paz served 10 years in the U.S. Navy as a gas turbine systems technician, deploying five times and receiving a slew of awards and promotions for his time in service, which his father said prepared him well for the job of running a business.
Paz Sr. himself was a U.S. Army second lieutenant. He earned a commission through the reserve officer training corps at Cal Poly. He relocated from Denver to the Central Coast in 1982, receiving work at Vandenberg Air Force Base. He worked 28 years in the aerospace sector, where he primarily did financing--skills that translated into his current gig as owner of Premier.
Now, insurance companies seek out the Paz family and son for their work. Premier Auto Body is a dedicated facility for GEICO, Enterprise, and Ameriprise insurance companies.
“We grew from nothing, hoping someone would stop and see us for what we are,” Paz Sr. said. “The experience is a lot sweeter now because we have a lot more business.”
Premier Auto Body is located at 211 E. Mill St. in Santa Maria. The shop is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and closed on the weekends. For more information, call the shop at (805) 922-8700.
We would like to thank Santa Maria Sun for reprint permission.