It was almost a natural choice to make for Jody Gatchell, owner of A&J Collision Repair, to steer his business in the direction that inspired its current slogan: “huge repairs – tiny footprint.”
Going green is the wave of the future, he predicts, so riding along with the wave was only fitting — if not pertinent — to survival.
“It’s completely a marketing point,” said Gatchell, whose 15-year old Conway-based collision repair operation made its conversion to sustainable business practices in 2007. “It's also just the right thing to do.”
Furthermore, it wasn't an expensive proposition, which is easing the decision-making process for a lot of small business owners retooling or upgrading their enterprises.
According to Gatchell, the profit margin for paint products — which make up the bulk of direct cost differences — is low enough that his green move in 2007 did not cause a drastic change in expenses.
He views other costs incurred, such as in purchasing compactors and trailers, as investments rather than expenses
thanks to various efficiency returns.
A&J Collision Repair highlights a number of energy conservation efforts, such as:
- Using waterborne paint, which contains much lower amounts of VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) than solvent paint;
- Recycling everything from cardboard to aluminum and other metals;
- Utilizing paper compactors
Gatchell also has his center primed to optimize its processes for economy of time, space and materials.
For instance, the paint booth area can accommodate simultaneous painting of multiple vehicles, while the waterborne paint leads to faster drying times and better coverage, both of which help alleviate the energy burden on the process.
Gatchell recognizes that despite cost equalization, comparable profit margins and positive marketing, there are also potential benefits to the environment.
If everyone in the collision repair field and beyond started taking his approach, the impact could be immense.
“What we do is not huge,”said Gatchell. “As a group of people though, as a culture, we need to be a little more aware.”
Talk Business reporter Giang Le is the author of this report.