Inside One of the Most Tech-Heavy Shops in the Nation
April 5, 2021—In the heart of Silicon Valley sits Redwood City Auto Body, an immigrant-owned collision repair shop that prides itself on doing everything by the book, even when a pandemic comes crashing through its doors.
Alex Kuang, owner of Redwood City Auto Body, says that prior to the pandemic there was rarely a quiet moment on his shop floor in Redwood City, Calif. Now, with half his previous car volume, and a far smaller staff, he says he’s trying to stay positive and plan for a brighter future.
Kuang’s passion for learning, which can border on an obsession, has guided him through life. He says his goal is to become a consultant for the collision industry in order to share everything that he has learned.
Here’s what he’s learned so far.
Quick Shop Look
Redwood City Auto Body functions out of two buildings on the same property and has certifications to work on vehicles from Ford, Honda, Subaru, Jeep, Nissan, General Motors, and more.
The first facility Kuang purchased spans 10,000-square-feet and houses the business’s main office, estimating, painting, and detailing bays. The second, a 7,500-square-foot building that he bought in 2014, is where aluminum and body work take place.
Kuang says his only uses parts provided by the original equipment manufacturers.
“Then there’s no chance of voiding a customer’s vehicle warranty,” he says.
Redwood City Auto Body prides itself on its perfect five-star Yelp rating (based on more than 280 reviews), its 4.7 stars on Google Reviews, and a 4.8 on CarWise.
Kuang says he attributes the shop’s success to his greatest asset, his staff. Each of his technicians goes through I-CAR training, Kuang says, to maintain the shop’s I-CAR Gold status and 15 OEM certifications.
When it comes to repair procedures, Kuang’s love of learning shines. He says he spends hours per day pulling each of them himself and highlighting the proper procedures for his staff to follow. He says one of his greatest strengths is researching, and when he pulls repair procedures, he knows he is saving his techs time and giving them the most accurate information.
Even with slower business, Kuang, a self-proclaimed workaholic, puts in 12-hour workdays, which he notes is four hours fewer than when he was on DRPs.
At night is when he says the real work happens—free of interruptions. With a meticulous process and an eye for detail, Kuang spends almost every night researching repair procedures and staying on top of industry trends.
“I research the vehicles, craft repair plans, and run the books,” he says.
As soon as a vehicle is dropped off at his shop, he says, “I research whatever it takes to bring it back to pre-loss condition.”
Kuang says what sets him apart from his competition is his dedication to doing everything 100 percent by the book, including advanced driver-assistance system calibrations.
Whether it takes a few hours, or a few days, Kuang consults each repair manual in order to get the most accurate and timely information to his technicians. In fact, he even put out ads centered around just that.
After his car count suffered last year, Kuang says he began running advertisements on Chinese-language radio stations telling customers that his shop could find “what others missed,” because of his unwavering commitment to OEM repair procedures.
Kuang offers his top tips on getting started in ADAS calibration:
First, figure out which automaker you service the most.
Before you invest in ADAS equipment, Kuang recommends researching which brands your shop sees the most to help get a return on your investment.
Find a scanner that fits multiple lines.
Kuang says he saved money by purchasing a scanner from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which he can use across its brands—Jeep, Chrysler, and Dodge.
Assign a single tech to follow up with scans.
When calibrating ADAS features, Kuang says his technicians run three scans throughout the process: pre-, in-process, and post-repair. By assigning a single technician to follow up with the scans, Kuang says he can better ensure a complete and proper repair.