28 Years of Auto Body Repair & Teaching the Craft
Jose Reveles discovered collision repair during high school over 30 years ago. Now the operator of a successful California shop, he’s offering the same opportunity to the next generation of repairers.
Jose Reveles is the owner of Commercial Auto Body, an 18,000-square-foot shop in Oxnard that generates nearly $2 million in annual revenue and repairs about 85 cars a month. The shop has nine full-time employees. Throughout the school year there are some younger faces in the mix, too—high school students Reveles teaches through a Regional Occupational Program (ROP).
Our Commitment To The Trade
Dozens of students have learned the collision repair trade from Reveles since the early 1990s. Recently, he’s added an after-school high school program, as well. His outreach is pure volunteer work, but he says it has helped his shop build a strong reputation in the community. It’s his way of helping advance the industry and the lives of young people in situations similar to his.
“Some kids, like myself, might not have the money to go to a university,” he says. “I think it’s a really good investment and it’s a good thing to do. It’ll pay for itself when you walk into places and you see kids you mentored. When they say ‘thank you,’ there’s no better reward.”
“Those three accidents really opened my eyes and I saw the potential of repairing cars as a business,” Reveles says.
Jose Reveles was a senior in high school in 1981 when he caught his first glimpse of the collision repair industry through a career exploration class. He enjoyed working on cars and picked up some repair fundamentals through the course, but he couldn’t visualize how the trade could make him a living until an unfortunate weekend a year later.
That’s when the first-generation immigrant, who has lived in Oxnard, Calif., since arriving in the U.S. from Mexico as a child, was involved in three accidents in three vehicles during one weekend. He was on the receiving end of a hit-and-run in his car and another hit-and-run in his brother’s car before he sideswiped a vehicle while driving his parent’s car and waving at a girl, he says.
When the repair estimate came in at $10,000, Reveles realized there was money to be made in collision repair. Though the vehicles were insured, Reveles convinced his parents to keep the insurance money and let him repair the cars himself. After some junkyard scavenging and a few days spent using the skills he learned in high school, he fixed the cars for around $1,500, impressing his family and friends in the process.
Comercial Auto Body works with the City of Oxnard directly.
Fast Forward To Today
Today he’s teaching students how to do the same thing, with these keys to success:
Customer care. Reveles says honesty and courtesy are at the heart of his business. He’s willing to invest in customers where many of his competitors will not, offering payment plans when insurance won’t cover a repair, for example.
He’s careful about who he gives credit to, but if it’s clear someone is in a tight spot, they’re employed and they’ll make the payments, he usually doesn’t bat an eye at lending a hand.
“There’s more benefits than losses,” he says. “If I weigh the amount of success, the losses are very minimal.”
Marketing to his community. Oxnard has a large Spanish-speaking population and nearly all of Commercial Auto Body’s customers are Hispanic, Reveles says. His primary marketing method is buying spots on Spanish-speaking radio channels, and he’s kept his radio ads consistent for years. Up next, he says, are TV commercials.
Planning and goal setting. From the very beginning, Reveles put all of his business plans and goals on paper and stuck to them. That’s a practice he’s continued. In his sights now: He wants yearly revenue to hit $3 million in the next two years. He expects to be a two-shop operation by then. In fact, he’s already purchased the second building.
The shop also teaches students through a high school program. Tech Edgar Cordoba, with shop owner Jose Reveles, is a former student. Photo by Silva & Silva Photography.
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