By Peijean Tsai
Years ago when Gary Leger set out to open an auto collision repair shop, he envisioned something untypical.
He wanted to bring a large, modern facility to Poway that used cutting-edge technologies, be quieter than the usual body shop, and have the operation be environmentally friendly.
Leger’s vision has finally been realized, as he recently opened Chrome Collision in the Poway Business Park, after a nearly two-year battle that included contentious Poway City Council meetings and opposition from local body shops concerned over increased competition.
“I really thought that Poway needed a collision center this size,” said owner Gary Leger, who said he was very happy to have finally opened the 33,000-square-foot Chrome Collision center in early February. He said the process had its challenges, noting, “But anything worthwhile is a struggle.”
The collision center is the fifth auto body shop in Poway, and the first in the business park. It’s the largest in the area of its kind, with 12 repair bays and the large indoor production area where cars are worked on.
The production area has a floor that’s kept shiny and clean, and an expansive ceiling with nine large skylights to cut down on electricity use. A highly efficient air compressor system ensures no leakage as air flows through extensive piping throughout the production area to be used to power tools, Leger said, and the compressor runs at night and is off during peak energy-use periods. Plasma cutters are used instead of air grinders, so operations don’t get too loud, he added.
The waiting room in front resembles a car dealership showroom, with couches and a flat-screen TV across a large space.
“This just doesn’t look like a normal body shop,” said Leger, a Santee resident who also is a part owner of the San Diego body shops Fix Auto Miramar and East County Collision. “Most people that walk into this front don’t realize that we repair cars out back. It’s very clean, very state-of-the-art, very modern.”
It’s not typical for body shops to invite customers to see what goes on behind closed doors, but Leger likes to be open and educate customers, walking them step by step through the process of how their cars will be fixed and inviting them to see the production area firsthand. This is part of Chrome Collision’s emphasis on excellent and friendly customer service, according to Leger.
On the evening of April 26, Chrome Collision is hosting a grand opening celebration open to the public. Individuals will have a chance to see the new facility then.
“We would love to open this up to the public and give guided tours,” Leger said.
The equipment itself makes Chrome Collision unique. According to Leger, it’s expensive equipment that typically is spotted only in higher-end repair shops.
For instance, Chrome Collision uses a hybrid spot welder, which mimics as close as possible the tough quality of an original factory weld.
Chrome Collision also uses a laser measurement system that accesses the blueprints of vehicle factory specifications. The information is used with the lasers which physically guide technicians to fix cars as originally designed.
A state-of-the-art paint booth features an unusually high number of bright, color-correct lights to ensure paint is matched exactly even in sunlight. The enclosed booth is designed with a down draft that keeps impurities and dust off as a car is sprayed.
In building the business, it was important for Leger to be environmentally forward. The center uses a clarifier to treat any water before it’s disposed. Water-based paint by Dupont is used, he said.
“We go above and beyond,” Leger said. “We’re taking care of the environment.”
Chrome Collision handles all car brands and provides all services for cars that have been in accidents, including body work and fixing engines. They offer mobile estimates, shuttle service and towing. They work with major dealerships along Poway Road and individuals.
The business is currently hiring in all facets, including technicians and office staff. There are presently 12 employees, and Leger’s goal is to have around 50. In the next two months, Enterprise Rent-a-Car will also be on site.
Chrome Collision (858-842-3075) is located at 13175 Gregg St. in Poway. The hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturday.
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