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St. Louis equipment distributor hunkers down for pandemic to pass

ATI president says leasing companies are now offering deferred leases for shops that need equipment to service customers during crisis

Fenton, Mo.—Doug Slattery has been busy, keeping up with government assistance programs and applying for aid that’s available for his staff and company, Automotive Technology Inc. (ATI), a sales and service business for the automotive and collision repair industry in the St. Louis area, located in Fenton, Mo.

“We can’t hunker down forever, but we plan on keeping everyone on board and working,” says Doug Slattery, ATI.

“We had a pretty good backlog of jobs coming into this crisis, like many of the shops did, that we’ve worked through, and now we’re trying to stay busy getting jobs here and there. But it’s been getting quiet — it feels like living in a library on some days.”

Slattery has made sure ATI has contacted customers to let them know the company remains open and it is still supporting them.

“If they have lift, frame rack or ac equipment that goes down, they know we’re still here. There’s also quite a bit of deferred leases available now — two-month no-pay and three months no-pay — that can really help guys if they need a piece of equipment. There’s even one company doing 12 months with no interest in response to coronavirus.

“The leasing companies have put some nice programs together so they’re not front-loading shops with interest.”

ATI’s sales staff is on a voluntary work-from-home status and has stopped making cold calls into shops. “If we’re talking to someone and they ask us to come over and scope a job out or see them, then we go see them. Not being able to prospect in the field definitely hurts us,” he said, adding that ATI’s service and installation team remains in office and active for shop customers in the field.

In-house staff has also been busy cleaning the warehouse, doing inventories, painting and expanding office space.

“We’re going to have a spic-and-span place here at this rate in the next couple weeks — I really hope this crisis doesn’t last much longer and we’re back operating sometime in May. Everyone should be tested for the virus, the sick isolated, and the healthy return to work.

“We can’t hunker down forever, but we plan on keeping everyone on board and working.”

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