Following the announcement on October 22 that Driven Brands acquired CARSTAR Auto Body Repair Experts, Autobody News interviewed two key executives. David Byers, CARSTAR’s CEO, spoke about the reaction from employees and the company’s short- and long-term goals.
Also, read comments from Jose Costa, who will be heading up Driven Brands’ Paint & Collision Division. He talked to Autobody News about the benefits for shops as a result of the acquisition and what to expect moving forward. The new division is comprised of CARSTAR, Maaco and Drive N Style, a smaller mobile interior company.
Q. Will there be any changes made at CARSTAR following the October 22 announcement?
A. It’s business as usual. We’re going to continue to operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Driven Brands and there will be no changes to our existing franchise base, our franchise contract, employees or anything else.
Q. As one of the largest multi-shop network of independently owned collision repair facilities in the United States, how were franchisees notified about the announcement and what has the reaction been?
A. Employees were notified through internal memos, which outlined the process, as well as a series of calls where we talked to different employee groups within the company.
I don’t think it’s a big surprise because many of the MSOs have been bought and sold multiple times in the last five years and most of them are owned by private equity groups. Private equity groups are known to buy and sell businesses over time.
I think our franchise community is really excited about the fact that not only do we get to continue to operate as the CARSTAR brand, but we get all of these resources that will help us fuel for future growth.
Q. What are your short- and long-term goals for the Kansas-based company?
A. We’re going to continue to be focused on our ability to accelerate our growth in the collision repair space. CARSTAR reported record revenue last year and we’re on track for record revenue again this year.
Our model is so different from the rest of the large MSOs that are consolidators in the industry. It is based on individual owners operators who own their businesses and have a deep passion for what they do and for the customer service they provide.
That’s always to me what has made our brand unique in the industry is that we’re really the only ones who do that. I think that’s how we became the largest because that’s an attractive proposition to a lot of independents out there who are frankly on their own and would love to be part of something bigger.
Q. What are the biggest benefits that you foresee for the 240 CARSTAR locations in 30 states and 450 locations across North America?
A. One of the biggest benefits is the ability to aggregate purchases across all of the brands. CARSTAR is probably one of the largest purchasers in the industry today of various products and services because we’re the largest. When you combine us with multiple brands under not only Driven brands but also under Roark Capital Group, that gives us buying power that is really unmatched in the automotive aftermarket industry.
I think from a resource perspective it opens all kinds of doors for us to embark on new growth initiatives that perhaps we didn’t have the resources to do in the past. To me, that’s the single advantage that this provides for us.