Sixty years ago, John (J.T.) Whaley opened a small body shop in Nashville, TN, which he named Whaley Body Shop.
Although John retired in 1981, the business has remained in the family ever since and prides itself on offering quality repair work to its customers.
Autobody News spoke to Linda Whaley, owner of Whaley Body Shop, about how the business has survived tough economic times and retained its employees.
Q: How did you get involved in the business, Linda?
A: When John sold the business to his son Gary, who I was married to at the time, I began working at the shop. It was the early 1980s; we had two small kids and I worked part-time. Interest rates were very high, and we were going through tough economic times. We went out on a limb and decided to take the company to the next level. With a lot of hard work and dedication, we were able to triple the size of our shop and get through that hump.
We decided to sell the business to a nephew on Gary’s side during the late 1980s, and he ran the company for about 10 years. In 2008--09, we decided to take the company back. The economy was suffering again, but we were able to keep all of our vendors and employees and run it successfully. I had the opportunity to purchase the shop in 2011 as a sole owner, and I’ve run Whaley Auto Body since then. My goal is to continue to grow the business while offering great service to my customers.
Q: What sets your business apart from others in the industry?
A: The number one thing that sets us apart is that we are a household name in our area. We have a really good reputation. We receive a lot of great reviews and have many long-term employees.
Q: How do you retain your employees?
Currently, I have 20 employees, and many of them have worked here for more than a decade. I pay my technicians a little more per labor hour---about $3 more per labor hour than they can receive anywhere else in town.