During an interview with Sue, Ken and Joe Guarniere, owners of Merrick Collision at 9 Kees Place, Merrick, about their anticipated second location on Bellmore’s Broadway, a maintenance driver for the Merrick School District came in and told Joe he vehicle had just been struck by a delivery truck and that it needed a repair estimate.
The friendly exchange revealed the driver clearly knew the Guarnieres, who have run the collision shop for 40 years and serviced thousands of Merrick residents and businesses with reassembling smashed, crunched, bent and disjointed vehicles. Conversation turned to the chiseled Chevy Camaro Iroc Ken had worked on … at some point in the past.
“The district requires free estimates,” the driver then told Your NewsMag. Within a few minutes Joe came back in, worked out an estimate, and began scheduling a time when the driver could come in to have the vehicle’s body repaired.
Such was another typical day in the life of the award-winning collision shop that will soon open a second shop at 36 Broadway in Bellmore, sight of an old evangelical church that occupied the space, next to the now-closed Banner transmission shop.
Merrick Collision plans to grow the family business. Ken and Sue have five children, where Joe and Britney currently work at the shop. At some point their other children Lauren, Danielle and Kenny may want to join them. With these children comes grandchildren that may be interested in the family business, as well.
The Guarnieres have leased the 8800 square-foot shop in Merrick they call home, as they built a successful business in Merrick. They plan to remain at the Merrick location into the foreseeable future.
Sue wished to thank all the patrons in Merrick who have patronized the collision repair shop, saying “ Merrick is great to work, the residents and customers are very supportive and have helped us to build a solid business with their support.”
Having owned the 6400 square-foot Bellmore location since November 2013, Ken said they have only recently been able to begin work on the inside to build it to “collision repair” specifications. Ken said he is still getting a feel for the space they will use, and where stations, fire sprinklers and other equipment will be placed.
New to the Bellmore shop is a spray paint and bake booth requiring the base be built into the floor, which will speed the time in getting the car or truck back to the customer. The new efficiencies of the spray booth allowed the Guarnieres to reduce the square footage of the new Bellmore property, and add up to 40 outside parking spots to park cars until they are ready to be repaired.
“We have to keep most of the cars in our shop now, those under repair and those needing to be repaired,” Ken said, often creating a crowded condition within the shop.
To make sure the spray and bake booth is utilized to its fullest, Ken said it is important to prepare the body properly to receive the paint – and the baking. “Molded materials [for bumpers, plastic shields, etc.] give off a residue that needs to be washed and sanded thoroughly” so the paint will stick properly, and bake on properly.
Auto body workers focus on fine details such tight crevasses and other hard-to-see spots, and dry them and sand them, essential if the body shop doesn’t want to have the car returned in the future with peeling paint, because the part wasn’t prepared for painting properly.
Adding to the deadline environment of their body repair shop in Merrick, Joe said, “The shop runs on a cycle time according to the insurance companies.” When a car is in the shop for repairs, insurers often pay for rental cars, and they wish to see the affected cars repaired as quickly as possible.”
The time it takes for a car to have the damage inspected and assessed, and then correct parts ordered is about 24 hours, Joe added.
Joe adds that, unlike during his father’s time spent working on bashing out dents and straightening fenders, “cars all have computers now, so we have to diagnose those computers” to tell workers if there is any damage to sensors in and around the car, in addition to the body damage. “We computer-diagnose the cars once they come in, and after they have been repaired,” he says.
Meanwhile, as if in response to his son’s prowess toward technology, Ken showed Your NewsMag the hot rod he rebuilt for Brian Setzer, Long Island guitarist from Massapequa who started the Stray Cats, and later his own orchestra. Similar Super Sport models from the ‘60s and ’70s also dot the office walls.
For information contact Merrick Collision at 623-9259, or visit www.merrickautobody.com .