More modern environment:
Prescription for hurting vehicles in Braintree
Herb Chambers opens new collision center in Braintree
Car czar Herb Chambers wants to be the collision center king of Massachusetts. A collision center and truck repair garage that opened recently on Lundquist Drive in Braintree represents Chambers’ fourth and biggest service center.
“If you love your car and you have an accident, this is the place you want to go,” Chambers said. “This is Massachusetts General Hospital for cars.”
The former warehouse now contains 44 body shop repair bays and 16 repair spots for commercial trucks and buses. Chambers plans to hire 20 additional technicians to work at the Braintree center, which began operating last month.
Repair business had been steadily increasing at Chambers’ previous collision center on Washington Street, which is now closed. The closing of several local Ford dealerships in recent years overwhelmed its ability to handle the demand.
Chambers bought the 78,400-square-foot building on Lundquist Drive two years ago for $3 million. He estimated he has spent more than $5 million converting the space – a former Avon Home Fashions warehouse – into a collision center and truck repair shop.
The facility was designed to provide a more modern environment than most body shops, with windows allowing natural light. Vacuum hoses are attached to tools used to sand vehicles, sucking dust and particles out of the air.
The latest computerized diagnostic equipment helps technicians straighten frames or match paint to cars’ original colors.
Two offices – remnants of the Avon warehouse – are available for insurance appraisers to fill out reports.
The Chambers body shop has about half the capacity of Ernie Boch Jr.’s Collision Center in Norwood, even though it is actually larger than the Norwood center. That facility spans 35,000 square feet and contains 88 repair bays for cars and trucks, Manager Bob Brown said.
Chambers is also counting on the Braintree facility to expand his heavy truck repair business. He spent $500,000 to elevate the roof of the building to accommodate box trucks and buses. The truck repair facility replaces one on Wood Road, which has a lease that expires in May.
Chambers is also using part of the building to store new vehicles such as Ford Mustangs with accessories that are frequent targets of thieves when parked outside at a dealership.
Chambers’ Somerville-based auto group owns 43 dealerships in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. He is opening new dealerships in Westboro and Sudbury in the next few months.
The Braintree facility is hiring painters and metal technicians for the body shop and diesel-certified mechanics for the truck repair shop.
“If they’re really craftsmen, I need them,” Chambers said. “They’ve got to have experience, because everything has to be done to a Rolls-Royce finish.”
Steve Adams may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.