The employees at Auto Exteriors: (left to right) Front Row-Pam Cauthen, Candice Mathis, Bobby Terry, John Apao, Russell Freeman. Back Row- Breanna Hinson, Mike Ruff, Paul Goddette, Mike Walden, Patrick Rogers, Troy Grau.
Located in Lancaster, SC, Auto Exteriors LLC is a busy ASE Blue Seal Certified facility specializing in collision repair.
Auto Exteriors, LLC
Type: Collision Repair
The shop also restores and details cars as well as provides towing and storage services. In order to maintain the high quality expected by customers, owner Russell Freeman knows he must rely on the best products on the market, which is why he uses the Valspar Refinish system.
"The collision repair industry is definitely becoming more and more refined," Freeman said. "If you’re not systemized, then you’re probably not growing and very likely headed in the opposite direction. Valspar offers a quality product at a reduced price. The paint holds over time, and our employees like working with this paint system.”
Auto Exterior’s 8,000-square-foot shop employs ten industry professionals who repair as many as 80 vehicles monthly, performing detail jobs, restorations, and work for dealers and insurers. The shop participates in two DRPs. “Recently, we’ve been seeing insurance companies want to total vehicles that can be repaired, while they want to repair vehicles that need to be totaled," Freeman observed. "It depends on the money they will get for the salvage, but it makes our job much more difficult, slowing the process down and complicating our customers' lives. DRPs are getting harder to maintain as well. It seems as though the insurance companies want more and more of our time and expertise for free in exchange for that DRP contract."
Valspar's products help Auto Exteriors deliver that expertise without sacrificing any more time than necessary. "It's easy to use and far more economical than the competition," Freeman stated. "We started using Valspar Refinish products in 2010. The main reason we switched to Valspar Refinish was cost and overall savings. Transitioning required a small learning curve, but it was well worth it because the product is so easy to use and the processes weren’t any different compared to the previous paint we were using. One thing I especially like about Valspar Refinish system is that the primer, sealer, basecoat, single stage and clear all use the same reducers and activators. The primer and sealer lay down smoothly, and the basecoat has a manufacturer guarantee of two coat coverage as long as you use the colored primer and sealer, which also speeds up the whole process. All Valspar products offer a dry and cure time that is better than the competition, and they also sell a speed clear for rush jobs. In my opinion, Valspar Refinish also outperforms other paint lines when it comes to color match.”
Valspar Refinish products create efficiency while delivering high quality paints at a competitive price, enhancing the shop’s profitability. Valspar paints adhere to OSHA and EPA standards to maintain compliance in regards to the low-VOCs being released into the environment.
Freeman and the employees at his shop are completely satisfied with Valspar Refinish. “The learning curve was minimal and well worth the effort because it’s so easy to use and reduces the time that the vehicle spends in production,” Freeman stated. “Auto Exteriors is very happy with the results of switching to Valspar.”
Auto Exteriors relies on Valspar’s paint to deliver superior quality at an affordable price.
Freeman has been involved in the collision repair industry since 1985, when, at age sixteen, he worked in a high school co-op program with a local shop. He continued his career as a body technician in several production shops and even tried to find a partner to start a business. Things changed in 2003 when he started his own mobile business.
"I worked for dealers--mainly in their parking lots--painting bumpers and touching up cars," Freeman explained. "When they realized I could repair more than bumpers, they started sending cars home with me to repair in my garage, but I soon ran out of room at home and needed to find a shop. One of the dealers I worked for helped me find a small shop in 2005. In 2012, my wife Teresa and I bought a much bigger building from Jesse Rathel when he retired, and we moved Auto Exteriors into its present location."
Auto Exteriors distinguishes itself from the competition because "We’re the only production-based shop in the area that also does restoration work and detailing," Freeman said. The shop also puts a lot of emphasis on customer service, and that's one of the things Freeman really enjoys about his relationship with Valspar Refinish as well. "Valspar Refinish provides excellent customer service. Someone is always there to help when we need it."
Russell Freeman opened Auto Exteriors in 2003.
Freeman also believes in helping the next generation of collision repair professionals, which is why Auto Exteriors participates in continuing education at the local high school and sponsors a lot of co-op students. The shop also recycles scrap metal, waste paint and thinner.
Looking to the industry's future, Freeman predicted, "The big franchises are going to buy out all of the profitable independent shops. This seems to be occurring more and more frequently, especially in smaller towns, so shops really need to maintain high quality repairs to stay relevant and keep customers satisfied."