Longevity sets Runge’s Auto & Tire apart from the competition in Chicago, Ill. The 18,000 square foot facility has been home to automotive repair shops since 1920, before being purchased by the Runge family in 1963. The reputation the shop has built in the community over the past century has driven the success of the business, according to body shop manager Joe Sobczac, who began working for Ralph Runge shortly after the family acquired ownership.
“Boasting a longevity of 100 years means that we serve third and fourth generation customers, and we’ve been able to retain that business because our focus is on treating people the way we want to be treated. Restoring their vehicle to its safe, pre-accident condition is our top priority, not trying to make a million dollars off every repair. Customers appreciate that honesty and concern we demonstrate in all of our interactions with them,” Sobczac said.
Second generation owners Tim and Chuck Runge took the business over in 2006 when Ralph passed. Austin Runge, Tim’s son, works in the shop and will be “the next generation to assume the baton and carry on with the Runge legacy,” Tim said.
In order to repair customers’ vehicles at reasonable prices, it’s vital that the shop monitor its expenditures closely, and in early 2019, Sobczac identified a way to save significant cost on materials: “The cost of the paint products we were using was unbelievable, and they kept raising the prices every year. No one wants to change – most people are naturally resistant to change, especially when it comes to a product you’ve been using for 20 years; however, this is an industry of constant change, so we began exploring our options.”
“While we were in the market for a replacement paint system, we looked at multiple options, but the brands were all basically the same in terms of cost,” Sobczac continued. “Then, a Lusid representative visited Runge’s and told us about the company’s GenRock paint line. After he demonstrated how much we could save, without sacrificing efficiency or quality, we were convinced.”
Lusid sent their trainer to Runge’s Auto & Tire for a full week, and according to Sobczac, “He was very helpful and responsive to our questions and was willing to stay longer if we needed. Our painter’s first language is Spanish, so Lusid even accommodated that by sending a bilingual trainer to ensure full comprehension. They were very beneficial during the implementation process – you can’t find that from other major paint manufacturers. With Lusid’s help, converting to the GenRock paint line was very easy, and they’ve been quick and responsive anytime we’ve called with a question.”
Runge’s Auto & Tire utilizes the entire GenRock paint line from Lusid Technologies, including primers, basecoats and clearcoats. While the painting process turn time has remained similar, “switching to Lusid saves us nearly 20% in paint costs, which is a significant savings over the competition,” Sobczak noted. “My painter really likes GenRock because it covers really well, the color matching is a lot better than our previous brand, and application is much smoother. My other techs like it because it’s easier to sand than other brands, plus it yields a high-quality finish that you just can’t find elsewhere for the same price.”
GenRock is Lusid’s “flagship product” and was designed for quality, coverage and color matching. The line offers a complete range of high-quality 2K single-stage, two-stage and three-stage basecoats. Due to super high pigment loading, GenRock provides excellent coverage with only two coats, saving shops time and money.
Quick flash off means painters spend a minimal amount of time waiting for the basecoat to dry before they can apply clear. Distributed in North America, Lusid’s GenRock features over 90,000 formulations, spectrophotometer, worldwide color match capability—and a lifetime warranty.
Runge’s Auto & Tire employs 13 automotive and collision repair specialists who repair an average of 120 vehicles each month. The I-CAR Gold shop does not participate in any DRPs, but in addition to offering collision repair services, the shop offers full-service mechanical repairs, completed by their ASE-certified mechanics. The Runges ensure that they are environmentally compliant by enlisting the services of a local environmental specialist who provides feedback and makes recommendations on a regular basis.
The shop is also involved with local youth through Little League sponsorships, and Sobczak feels that focusing on the next generation is important as it pertains specifically to the automotive and collision repair industries as well. “One of the issues we’ve seen is a lack of qualified help; new techs just aren’t receiving the training the need, but everyone seems to have the same problem. There are a lot of changes constantly happening in this industry, and small businesses like ours won’t survive if we don’t adapt. Switching to Lusid was definitely a step in the right direction!”
Runge’s Auto & Tire
Location: Chicago, IL
Company at a Glance…
Type: Collision and Mechanical Repair
Facility Employees: 13
In Business Since: 1920
Number of Locations: One
DRP Programs: None
Combined Production Space: 18,000 square feet