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Industry veteran Jim Huard exits latest venture, Painters Collision Centers

Huard’s selling of his Phoenix-based shops to Classic Collision caps off over four decades of entrepreneurial accomplishments

Phoenix—Industry veteran Jim Huard sold his latest venture last month, Painters Collision Centers, to Classic Collision. This exit caps off over four decades of entrepreneurial accomplishments for Huard, who has led the start-up, growth, and sale of several high-performing collision repair businesses across the US. Painters was represented in the transaction by Focus Advisors.

Huard started his collision career at 15 by working in his family’s shop in Whittier, Calif. In 1978, his father’s shop partnered with Allstate in the nation’s first-ever DRP. In the first of what would become many turnarounds, he was able to successfully transition his family’s business to a computerized system allowing them to maintain their high level of volume. This experience prepared Huard for a lifetime of guiding shops through complex changes and rapid growth.

Relocating to Portland, Ore., for a general manager role at the age of 26, Huard was instrumental in independents. Jim earned a partnership in the 2nd independent which he grew from approx. $270k a month to over $800k a month. This location was then sold to Kadel’s Auto Body. Jim was retained as an operations manager. Jim assisted in their growth. In Jims words, Toby Wiltse the owner of Kadel’s is an entrepreneurial genius. This is where he really decided what he wanted to be. He followed Toby’s footsteps but on a smaller scale.

Ten years later, he helped expand MSOs in Southern California. Joining Caliber Collision first as a GM, Regional, then became their “Turnaround Specialist,” he spent 9 years there, reorganizing dozens of shops in San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles. He was instrumental in helping grow Caliber’s footprint from 75 to 500 stores. He characterizes it as one of the most fun times of his career.

He then joined industry pioneer Erick Bickett at Fix Auto ACAB Automotive Group. Auto Center Auto Body (ACAB) as VP of Operations Jim was solely responsible for the operations and financial growth of the Bickett MSO within the Fix Auto group. Jim assisted in the growth of Fix Auto USA as well. Jim quickly earned an equity stake in the Bickett MSO and became an owner partner. In January 2021, at the age of 53, he started Painters Collision Centers in the Phoenix market with his wife, Kelly, as his business partner.

Their strategy was to acquire struggling shops with great potential, and their paint reps helped them identify the right acquisition targets. They would quickly close on those targets and then implement their integration plans. They started Painters in January 2021 by acquiring a location in Queen Creek followed by their Chandler store in March 2022. In January 2023, they opened a dedicated ADAS facility and three months later, they bought their third shop in Apache Junction. With Kelly handling the back-office and Jim directing shop operations, the Huards grew Painters to three locations with over 100 employees — all within the span of two years. They made each acquisition cash flow positive within 30 days.

Chris Lane, Partner at Focus Advisors, the sell-side advisory firm that represented Painters in its sale to Classic Collision, remarked, “What Jim has been able to repeatedly accomplish across so many different shops and markets over four decades is just incredible. He is unmatched in his consistent ability to transform underperforming collision shops. The MSO that the Huards built in Arizona was one of the highest performing MSOs I’ve ever seen.”

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