Showcase: Lou Fusz Collision Center of Creve Coeur
STATS: Lou Fusz Collision Center of Creve Coeur Location: Creve Coeur, Mo. Collision Director: Dave Hughes Size: 10,000 square feet Staff Size: 15 Annual Revenue: $2-3 million
The Lou Fusz Collision Center of Creve Coeur, Mo., is one of the oldest shops in the Missouri-based Lou Fusz 13-dealership network.
According to Dave Hughes, who is the collision manager at Lou Fusz Collision Center of Creve Coeur and has been with the dealer group since 1992, the collision center is almost as old as the the Lou Fusz dealership network, which having gotten its start in 1952, is amongst the oldest auto groups in the St. Louis area.
The collision center is located on the bottom floor of a two-story building with the first floor reserved for offices. The facility specializes in servicing Kia, Mazda and Subaru vehicles.
Hughes says the shop used to share the building with the Subaru service center, and still shares the space with the Lou Fusz parts department.
The collision center’s floor reflects a traditional layout—long with garage doors on one side—with no racetrack effect. What it may lack in innovation, it makes up for in efficient use of a large space. In all, there are 28 bays dedicated to repair work, four in the paint department for prep work, two paint booths, and five bays dedicated to framework with three pulling machines.
Paint and repair are divided by a wall on the far end of the building, and the Lou Fusz team takes advantage of its 17 garage doors (three feed into the paint department, and the other 14 service the repair side).
Tools and Equipment
Hughes says that when the paint booths were originally installed roughly 25 years ago, they were installed to best accommodate larger vehicles. Since then, though, vehicles have become more compact. He says the paint booths still get the job done, though.
The staff regularly swaps out filters for the shop’s large 14 foot by 27 foot downdraft paint booths, which were recently painted.
As in-vehicle technology and vehicle repair procedures have changed, a variety of tools have been added to the shop to better repair vehicles. The shop has added welding tools, updated its digital measuring system and added a second Car-O-Liner alignment drive-on rack.
The shop functions smoothly because of the unified, family environment that is instilled in the Lou Fusz shop.
Hughes makes sure he stays in constant communication with his staff, so that everyone is on the same page about what’s on the shop floor and where vehicles are in the repair process. Hughes and his team use large production boards with files on them in order to keep track of vehicles. These production boards are updated manually, and Hughes also sets up spreadsheets on his computer to organize the vehicle work that needs to be done. Hughes also relies on the dealership network’s DealerTrack DMS to help track down parts and log vehicle repair progress.
There is a mixture in experience among the technicians, but Hughes says they all get along and work well together. Technician experience can be broken down into thirds; a third of the techs have been in the industry for 11–30 years, another part of the group has been in the industry for 5–10 years, and the remainder have been in the industry for less than five years.