Business

Perseverance pays off for Jeff’s Collision

Jeff Martin (left) and Brian Deadmarsh (right) stand beside a courtesy car outside Jeff’s Collision Centre. The shop is Rossland’s second-longest running business with the same owner in the same location and has earned  the trust of car enthusiasts throughout the region. - Andrew Bennett
Jeff Martin (left) and Brian Deadmarsh (right) stand beside a courtesy car outside Jeff’s Collision Centre. The shop is Rossland’s second-longest running business with the same owner in the same location and has earned the trust of car enthusiasts throughout the region.
— image credit: Andrew Bennett

Quality, cleanliness, and hard work have paved the road to success for Jeff Martin, owner of Jeff's Collision Centre, Rossland's second-longest running business under the same owner at the same location.

The quarter-century old — yet distinctively modern — automotive repair business opened at its present shop on 3rd Avenue in 1989, the same year the Orwell Hotel became the Steamshovel a block to the south.

Only Butch Boutry's beats Jeff's Collision for longevity, and Ferraro Foods has changed location in that time.

The auto shop specializes in collision work, start to finish, from suspension and body, to radiator and air conditioning, to windshields and paint jobs.

"We're proud of what we do," Martin said, and for good reason. Last year, of 429 ICBC accredited car shops, Mitchell International's survey of customers found only 26 with 100 per cent customer satisfaction, "and we were one of them," Martin said.

A third generation Rosslander who "was born here, raised, and never left," Martin rented a downtown space for three years before he bought, built, and moved into the present location complete with fans, filters and cutting-edge tools in the high-ceilinged bays of the 5,000-sq.-ft. building. The work flow moves from dusty jobs on the east side to finishing touches on the clean west side, with a fleet of courtesy cars waiting outside in the parking lot.

"It was a huge gamble, or I thought it was," he said. "Going into debt. It was a big expense."

Looking back, now long out of debt, it's hard work that paid off: "I had lots of down years where I starved, but if you stick it out, it'll eventually come around, it really will," Martin said.

"Perseverance is the thing. You give up and say, Oh jeez I'm not really making the money I wanted after five years. Don't give up, keep at it! If you don't put in your 50-hour weeks, you're not going to make it."

"I'm here before six every morning, just to make sure everything's organized, everything's in its place," Martin said. "One thing we really pride ourselves on, when you come in here, it looks like you wouldn't be afraid to drop your $50,000 car off."

There may have been ups and downs, but Martin tapped into his market quickly and has held it down

"The first Christmas it was quiet," he said. "After that, there's never been a quiet day."

He's happy to be based in Rossland and, when questioned about high taxes, he was quick to rebut that Rossland's taxes are reasonable: "It's all the same, don't let anyone tell you that. I just got the bill, taxes were $7,800. I asked the Shersty boys what they were paying in Castlegar a couple years ago, and they were paying more for a similar size building."

Over the years, Martin has had to adapt to changes as well, for example environmental legislation that has the whole industry using waterborne paints that are "a lot harder to use," than solvent-based paints.

But he's equipped with computerized paint matchers and automated mixers that make the work exact.

"The black pearl here," he said pointing to a recently painted truck, "there's probably four or five colours in that black just to make the colour match."

Cleanliness is also at the core of the shop's success, but getting dirty comes with the job and Martin's hardworking hands are proof. Bryan Deadmarsh, Martin's office manager for almost four years, did not hesitate to credit Martin's work ethic.

"He does the dirtiest jobs. the sandblasting, all the jobs nobody else wants to do," Deadmarsh said, pointing out that he was hired because Martin wanted to get out of the office and back on the floor.

"I wouldn't ask anybody else to do anything I wouldn't do," said Martin, whose experience stretches back three decades to school in Kelowna, right up to YouTube advertising in 2011.

With 25 years working in all aspects of automotive repair himself, Deadmarsh is no stranger to labour and knows a good team when he's on it. "It's a good working group," the Fruitvale native said about the eight-man team that runs the shop.

Their reputation has now spread far and wide, drawing repeat customers from Grand Forks, Nelson, Castlegar, and Fruitvale, but also a lot of American cars and corporate fleet work also.

"It's amazing," Martin said. "These days, you no longer rely on your home town. People come from everywhere. Seasonal people come here to get their car fixed too. They say, Oh, I'll save it 'til I'm in Rossland."

To stay strong in the repair business, you must appeal to a diverse clientelle, "you have to treat everyone as an equal," he said.

With an average cost of repair of $2,500, the bulk of their work might be termed high-end. The bays and parking lot are filled with glossy trucks and well-heeled sedans, "but we can still do a service to someone who needs just a little something," Martin said, from a simple cleaning to a minor replacement and on up.

"There's no job too big or too small," Deadmarsh chimed in.

"A guy brought in the door to his stove the other day," Martin gave as one example. "He dropped it and it was all bent, so he asked, Can you straighten it out, and we did."

For quotes or service, contact Jeff's Collision at 1-888-700-7677, or email jeffscollision@telus.net.

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