Endings and new beginnings are happening on N. Clare Avenue, north of Harrison. For the Roy family it was an end to their family home when the house next to S&S Collision, which they purchased in the 1960s, was torn down last week. Increasingly surrounded by commercial businesses the home was rezoned commercial upon sale.
Greg Roy’s father cleared the lot in 1967 to build a home, raise a family and start a business. Greg raised his children there, too. While bittersweet, the Roys fully support the expansion of their former neighbors’ business.
Ashley Pratt, S&S Collision office manager, shared part of a heartfelt message from the Roys, “Like Tim and Anna before you we could not have asked for better neighbors. We are excited for your new facility. It has worked out fantastic for our family and now it brings new beginnings for S&S. You both should be so proud of what you have done for the community and the best is yet to come. Congratulations.”
Jacob Stuhr purchased S&S Collision on Jan. 1, 2018. Stuhr began working for Tim and Anna Sharp, who started the business in 1989, when he was still in high school. Stuhr started with a broom in his hand cleaning the shop and doing odd jobs. Weighing his options between college or working, he went full time with the Sharps learning the ropes.
Stuhr retained office manager Ashley Pratt and they hit the ground running, continuing to make the business successful. Speaking with Stuhr and Pratt, ages 25 and 29 respectively, feels like listening to business veterans well beyond their years plan and strategize how their business is evolving and how they plan to keep up.
As an essential business, S&S Collision stayed open throughout the pandemic and never needed PPP or other supportive government funds. Even when things in Michigan were almost entirely shut down, they were fixing and servicing other essential workers’ vehicles.
Then, an opportunity fell into their laps which led to more talk about expansion. They were already outgrowing the space when a longtime provider of their auto paint and supplies wanted to retire and approached the two about buying his business. A&J Refinishing Products, LLC was born when Pratt and Stuhr partnered to buy out Vehicle Pride and distribute Matrix Automotive Finishes. They also began distributing the line of Production Chemical Products used for detailing cars.
On a tour of S&S Collision, the growth over the years is evident in the many additions and mazelike workspaces. As the business required more space, Quonset huts, small additions, and storerooms were added. Attempting to make sense of that space led Stuhr to envision a new body shop with new technology to keep up in the industry.
Their current building is a total of 5,500 square feet, but the shop area is only 2,500 square feet. The new building will be 7,680 square feet. It made more sense to build a new body shop and free up the existing building to house inventory for A&J Refinishing Products and a retail space for customers to purchase paint and supplies.
Their new shop will contain all the newest equipment in autobody repair technology, and it will be laid out to meet their workflow needs. In May, they’ll be attending a weeklong course to master some of that new technology in the spirt of continuous improvement of their skills.
It was important to both Stuhr and Pratt to keep the work for the new building in the hands of local contractors. Mann Construction of Harrison is their general contractor, and Clare county businesses such as Dodd & Son Well Drilling, Bauer Excavating, Gateway Refrigeration, and Weldon’s Commercial Concrete Construction are a few of their service providers.
The new building is scheduled to open in mid-August, and, since Stuhr has had his hands on every single car repaired in the last six months, they’ll be looking to hire additional qualified and certified auto body technicians.
S&S Collision and A&J Refinishing Products plan to hold a grand reopening and customer appreciation event when the new building is open. The customer appreciation event was a tradition begun by the Sharps which Stuhr and Pratt want to continue, and they look forward to showing their customers all the positive changes.