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Island shop’s business booms after pandemic reopening

Community rallies to support Modern Collision Rebuild & Service after shop closes for a month

Bainbridge Island, Wash.—Co-owners Micah and Aaron Strom temporarily closed their shop’s doors for a month to help flatten the pandemic curve, and when Modern Collision Rebuild & Service reopened on May 4, business boomed.

“It’s been crazy busy,” said Micah, “and it hasn’t slowed down. We’re busier now than before the downturn with the pandemic.”

Brothers Micah (left) and Aaron Strom say the Bainbridge Island community has rallied to support local businesses.

Modern Collision Rebuild & Service was launched in 1974 by the Stroms’ parents, and the brothers purchased it in 2009. Throughout the years, it has grown from a one-stall shop to more than 10,000 square feet and 20 employees. Monthly car counts now average 250 and revenues were $2.5 million last year.

The Bainbridge Island community has rallied to support its local businesses, Aaron said, “especially during a time like this, they see value in it. They’re coming in for scheduled maintenance and also taking on recommended repairs at the same time instead of putting them off.

“It’s easy for people to take things for granted until something like the crisis happens, then they come out in support of their favorite services, restaurants and businesses.”

The shop used Kukui to help spread word about its reopening to customers with email blasts, as well as social media platforms and leveraging community ties.

“We like Kukui because they focus strictly on automotive,” Micah said. “We’re happy with the results we’ve received and we just signed up for their new Text Connect program, which further enhances our customer communication. Shop-Ware has also been a valuable shop program for us, from sharing videos and pictures with customers to repair information, it’s made the entire business more efficient.”

As a member of ASA Northwest, the brothers said the association has benefited the shop with Covid 19-related information and resources, as well as the comradery and networking it offers with other member shops.

“Our membership really pays off,” Micah said. “It’s beneficial to our business and the industry as a whole.”

Technician Tim Ruck has been with the shop for decades.

A non-DRP shop focusing on quality

The shop’s employees have also been instrumental in Modern Collision’s pandemic bounce-back, many of whom have been with the business for decades.

“We treat our employees like family because without their quality of work and dedication, we wouldn’t have the reputation we enjoy,” Micah said. “Our customers aren’t looking for the cheapest repair, they want it fixed right — and that’s what we’re known for.”

Modern Collision performs both collision and mechanical repair, and revenues are evenly divided between the two disciplines. The brothers also run a detail shop as a standalone service, and a 20-vehicle rental business — the only one on the island — for shop customers and the public.

“We’re a non-DRP shop by choice,” Aaron said. “We want to inform our customers how their car should be repaired, not have someone tell us how it should be fixed. We work for the customer, not the insurance companies. We built our reputation on quality, and your not going to get that as a DRP. It’s why we also don’t use aftermarket parts.”

Phil Brown dials into the shop management software Shop-Ware.

Community involvement and recognition

On Tuesday, Modern Collision had its annual Bainbridge Island Classic Car Cruise-In. Donations were accepted for the shop’s featured charity, Project Backpack, which supplies back to school supplies for local families in need.

“We were able to raise $2,065,” Micah said.

Kitsap County also recently announced the shop as its 2020 Earth Day Award winner for being a leader in sustainable practices (it was also a recipient of the honor 20 years ago). Aaron said the shop was recognized for its policies and procedures to ensure reduced environmental impact and protect the community, such as reducing VOCs, improving air quality and recycling.

“We also changed paint manufacturers to Axalta six months ago for its waterborne paint. It creates less waste and is more efficient. We can also get colors that weren’t possible with solvents.”

Micah added that Modern Collision is involved in the island’s annual Rotary auction, as well. “It’s like a huge garage sale that we donate money to every year to help it get off the ground. Our family also volunteers between 30-60 hours per person to help set it up. The auction raised $560,000 last year.

“We help our community and our community helps us.”

Chuck Stutz and Deahna Romero work the front office.

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