The road ahead for Carstar could be paved in aluminum.
The Leawood-based auto body repair company said it finished 2014 with record North American revenue of $712 million, up about 10 percent from the previous year.
And business this year is already getting a boost from aluminum repair work on vehicles in some of the company’s key markets, particularly those areas “with higher ownership of the Ford F-150 and more exotic cars like the Tesla,” said David Byers, chief executive officer at Carstar Auto Body Repair Experts.
The new F-150 pickup truck, for example, is being touted for its innovative aluminum body, which is lighter than steel and should improve fuel efficiency. The truck has been in dealer showrooms only a few months.
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According to Byers, Carstar is the only large multi-store collision repair business in the country that has an aluminum certification training program for its employees.
The company, headquartered at 4200 W. 115th St., operates the largest network of independently owned collision repair centers in North America, with more than 430 locations in 29 states and 10 Canadian provinces. Carstar is largely owned by Champlain Capital, a San Francisco-based investment firm.
In 2014, Carstar reported an 11.3 percent sales increase over 2013 at stores open at least a year. In addition, Carstar’s volume of referrals from insurance companies increased 11 percent.
Byers said two other factors have been driving business.
“We are seeing higher repair values as consumers continue to purchase new cars,” he said. “And weather has played a role, with numerous hail storms throughout the country, heavy rain in the coastal areas and early snowstorms through the Midwest and Northeast.”
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