Autobody News reached out to Beans to find out more about his collision repair centers and the company’s involvement in the surrounding community.
Q: Why did you decide to partner with CARSTAR?
A: I thought the body shop business was something we’d like to grow but with the consolidations going on in the industry I felt that we needed an affiliation with a more progressive business. We have always been associated with franchises and I thought CARSTAR would hold us to a higher accountability level. I was hoping they would help add more regimen and discipline to our collision repair shops. I also felt it would give the shops more accountability and help us grow our business. Now we have continuity and our shops have a similar look and feel. They wear the same uniform and all of the practices at the collision repair shops are the same. I think it’s going to help us get better and serve our customers better.
I feel very good about the body shop business. It’s fun and it’s evolving. I don’t think I could go at it alone. I don’t think we had the internal support mechanism before. With CARSTAR, we can better serve our customers. Now we get to meet other people in the same profession, with the same goals. I think it’s like one big team. That’s what I truly hope.
Q: You have built up your business over the years. Can you tell us what you attribute your success to?
A: I think my success comes from two things. One is the timeframe I was born in. I also attribute it to having parents with good moral values and the fact that I was raised on a farm. Growing up on farm gives you a sense of pride and the feeling that there is something bigger than you are. A farmer is always working.
Q: What are some of the changes you have witnessed since you first started Fred Beans?
A: One of the changes I have noticed is more professionalism in the industry. There is also the measurement that insurance companies require from us. I think there is a lot of accountability in this business today and it is certainly becoming a more professional business.
I think we’re going to continue to see a lot changes. We’ve already seen the addition of Uber, and more safety devices being implemented in vehicles. Now there is the introduction of driverless vehicles.
Q: Three of your daughters currently work at Fred Beans. Can you tell us about some of the unique features at your company that help contribute to its family feel?
A: We really want it to be a place where our team members feel good about coming to work. It makes it fun. We have a healthy living committee, in-house exercise programs and a nutritional program.
Q: Can you tell us about Fred Bean’s involvement in the community?
A: Regarding the special responsibility that comes with financial success, I believe we have an obligation to give and an obligation to teach others to give.
When Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, we worked with other community leaders to adopt the towns of Bay-Waveland, Mississippi. The $113,000 we raised furnished the award-winning state-of-the-art daycare center built by the Bucks-Mont Katrina Relief Project.
We’ve also contributed to the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, where a gallery is named for the company; the Central Bucks Family YMCA; the Heritage Conservancy, which helps to preserve farmland in the community; and CB Cares, a nonprofit organization that serves as a catalyst by engaging, empowering and linking the various community sectors to create a healthier community with positive attitudes, behaviors and values.
Q: What is your advice to others in the industry about the ability to stay competitive?
A: I think we have to listen and learn as many new practices as we can. I also think we need to learn about lean. These are all things I didn’t know anything about 20 years ago. I think it is a continuous journey.
If you look at the body shop business from 1972 to 2000, I think it has changed, but gradually. I think as new technology is introduced, change is coming at a much faster pace today.
There is a great book by Xu (Ian) Yang, the president of Intel. He said if you stood with your back to the ocean on the beach, eventually the water would be at your feet. I think that technology is compounding very quickly and there is much effort being put into the safety of the car such as ABS brakes, rear cameras, multiple air bags, etc.
I like coming to work each day. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to work with my employees and our customers. It has always been my core belief that we are all just caretakers for future generations, and it is that which keeps me going. We are so fortunate to have so many nice customers and a great community in which to live and work.