October '21

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36 THE SHOP OCTOBER 2021 O ver the years I've been to many shops. Some are big, fancy places, and some are tiny operations in a garage or basement. Each one has its own personality, and many have survived and thrived because of a good idea the proprietor had at the start. If you're looking to expand, increase profits or simply try something new, here are 12 unique contributors to shop success from aftermarket businesses like yours. NUMBERS-MATCHING RADIATORS Take Glen-ray Radiators (restorationradiators. com) in Wausau, Wisconsin. Bob Schirmer's shop grew out of a passion for Dodges. His father, Ray, started repairing radia- tors in 1955 at Three Arrow Radiator in Chicago. In 1964, Ray left Chicago with his wife, Carolyn, and sons, Ray Jr. and Bob, to open his own radiator repair business in a tiny backroom shop in Wausau. When Bob later went to his favorite Mopar shows, he saw restored muscle cars with incorrect radiators in poor condition. He realized there was a need for classic car radia- tors to be restored rather than just repaired. Collectors wanted radiators that looked brand-new and had matching numbers— correct factory stampings and date codes. Getting licensed to reproduce authentic radiators was an arduous, bumpy and expensive process, Schirmer explains. Glen- ray had to tool-up to make the products at its own cost, and only after they were being made could a license be issued. But he was right about demand. Today, the shop sells reproductions and can also restore, rebuild or re-core radiators for a variety of classic vehicles, regardless of make, model or year. Most sales are con- ducted by mail order. SEEN FROM A MAJOR HIGHWAY Ross Obermeyer's Highway 41 Body Shop ( in Allenton, Wis- consin, isn't much larger than Glen-ray Radiators. Obermeyer's secret is that his shop can be seen from a major highway, even though it's located in a very rural location. This added exposure and the shop's great metalworking skills have allowed him to attract owners of some rare cars and trucks, from a Czechoslovakian-built Tatra to a low-production postwar Chevrolet veg- etable truck. Obermeyer was the body shop manager at a Milwaukee Chevrolet dealership owned by Pontiac GTO creator Jim Wangers. "I didn't enjoy that job," he remembers. "It was high stress every day." In 1973, Ross decided to open his own body shop. "Being in the country, we have low over- head," he points out. "We pass the savings on to our customers." Big Ideas 36 THE SHOP OCTOBER 2021 A dozen examples of ways shops add to the bottom line. Bob Schirmer's idea involves making numbers-matching Mopar radiator parts. Glen-ray can restore just about any old car or truck radiator. By John Gunnell

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