Thanks to its national call center that handles scheduling, auto glass claims, parts ordering and more, ABRA Auto Body & Glass sees auto glass repair and replacement services playing a big role in the company’s ongoing expansion.
“Of the ten corporate markets we are in, eight are in the auto glass repair and replacement business. Washington (Seattle) and St. Louis will be entering the glass market soon,” explains Scott Krohn, executive vice president of operations.
ABRA has 175 locations in 17 states. Of these, 126 are corporately-owned locations and the rest are franchisees.
“We grew from six to ten markets in the last 18 months,” he says. “The ten markets include Minneapolis/St. Paul; Atlanta; Milwaukee/Madison, Wis.; Nashville, Tenn.; Memphis, Tenn.; Denver/Colorado Springs/Pueblo, Colo.; Salt Lake City; St. Louis; Indianapolis and Washington/Seattle. When we enter a market to offer collision services, we enter as an auto glass repair and replacement startup. Three to six months after entering a new market, we’ll do a glass startup or an auto glass acquisition. We start by servicing our auto body shops and then add glass services to some dealers. Later, we grow the retail and insurance side of the business.”
He says the company’s national glass center does price quoting, dispatches jobs to technicians, orders parts and more. The call center has business and marketing personnel in-house to support the company’s expansion.
“We have business and marketing folks that talk with agents about claims originations and also talk to OEM parts’ dealers,” Krohn says. “While selling collision, it doesn’t take a lot more effort to talk about glass. We do a lot of business for OEM dealers and most are not in the glass business. We buy a significant amount of OEM parts each year and so we get glass referrals. It’s a win, win relationship with dealers.
“The call center does virtually everything for the glass transaction, with the exception of installation,” he explains.
And to support the auto glass growth, Krohn points out that ABRA just made its first acquisition of a glass company-Royal Auto Glass of Indianapolis, Ind.
He sees this type of acquisition as one way to add or enhance auto glass repair and replacement services in a corporate market and Jim Richarson, vice president of glass operations, agrees. Krohn explained that Steve Hoyt, who founded Royal Auto Glass, was looking to expand. He has taken on a leadership role for ABRA after the acquisition and has agreed to manage and maintain the auto glass operations for the Indianapolis market
“He wanted to get into the AGRR business in a bigger way and now he has the infrastructure and runs our glass market in Indianapolis,” Krohn says. “I think there is an opportunity as we continue to grow, not just as an AGRR startup in new markets, but also for acquisitions.”
Krohn notes that the company will only consider an auto glass company acquisition in a corporate market.
“For us to consider acquiring an auto glass company, it must be in one of our ten corporate markets,” Krohn says. “We’re looking for a well run business in all current markets. We will look at employees, brand reputation and more. The selling company can benefit from the latest technology and tools it might not be able to get on its own.”
On the collision franchise side, Richardson says about 25 percent of the franchisees support auto glass repair and replacement. While the company offers a franchising program, this is solely on the collision repair side. ABRA is not looking to add auto glass repair and replacement franchisees, he stresses.
ABRA will, however, help its franchisees enter the auto glass repair and replacement business and support this service addition.
Supporting the company’s continued growth streak, just this week ABRA announced the opening of a new collision repair center in La Vergne, Tenn. It will serve Smyrna, Tenn., and the surrounding communities.
“We are aggressively investing in major markets that enhance ABRA’s national reach and capabilities,” says Duane Rouse, president and CEO.
When asked what particular area or market could be next for ABRA, Krohn says, “You just never know.”