Frank's Auto Body & Restoration prepares for move to new and larger building
Frank Latin doesn’t have to leave work for long to check how construction is going at his business’s soon-to-be new location.
Actually, he only needs to take a quick walk next door to his current shop in Madison Township to view the future base of operations for Frank’s Auto Body & Restoration.
Construction is underway on a building that’s nearly triple the size of the current shop now situated at 7279 North Ridge Road. The next home of Frank’s Auto Body & Restoration at 7277 North Ridge also will include new equipment that’s more efficient and improves air quality for employees.
When the new, 22,500-square-foot shop opens later this year, it will mark the third location in the shop’s 28-year history. The business specializes in painting and refinishing and collision repair of cars and trucks, as well as some commercial vehicles; and restoration of antique and muscle cars.
Latin started it in 1993 at a rented building in Madison Township, not far from his existing site.
He decided to venture into ownership after working alongside experienced auto-body technicians at several local dealerships. Latin gained a foundation in the profession by studying auto body repair at Auburn Career Center in Concord Township.
In 2004, Latin constructed the building that Frank’s Auto Body & Restoration now occupies.
About six years later, Latin was eyeing expansion, and decided to purchase the property immediately to the west of his existing 9,000-square-foot shop.
“We knew sooner or later at the pace we were going, that we were going to be running out of room,” he said. “So for future development, we bought that.”
Site preparation for the new shop began in early 2019 and construction kicked off in 2020.
Latin estimates the overall cost of the new building at about $2.2 million.
The shop got a financial boost from a state agency because of air-quality improvements it is incorporating into the new building. In January, the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority board awarded the business $340,000 in bond financing and a $20,000 grant to bolster the project.
“This is an exciting time for Frank’s as they move to a new, larger location and implement environmental conscious improvements to protect the air as well as the well-being of employees,” said Christina O’Keeffe, executive director of the authority, in a news release. “We are pleased to be able to support this Ohio small business and help them achieve their goals.”
The $340,000 in revenue bonds will be used by Frank’s to finance the purchase of equipment for two downdraft spray booths and a paint mixing room for the new shop. Both the booths and mixing room will be outfitted with state-of-the-art technology that will improve air quality for employees.
Having equipment that’s modern and more efficient will help the shop not only to meet environmental requirements, but also to be more competitive, as well, Latin said.
“That’s because we’ll be able to (finish painting) more vehicles in a shorter amount of time,” Latin said. “So we’re actually going to generate some (additional) job openings.”
Right now, the staff is composed of about nine to 10 employees, Latin said. With the move to the new building, he anticipates hiring an additional two to four employees who will prepare and painting of vehicles.
Another reason that Latin wanted to build a larger shop was to be able to service more commercial vehicles, such as larger trucks, minibuses, and school and commercial buses.
“With the commercial vehicles, obviously they’re bigger and take up more space,” Latin said. “So we need a taller building and more room.”
If the construction project continues on schedule, Latin anticipates that the new location will be completed and ready to open by early July.
He said his employees are excited about relocating.
“They can’t wait to get it done so we can move and get some more space,” he said.
Although Frank’s will be operating in a new building, Latin said the business will continue adhering to the customer-service philosophy that it’s followed from the beginning.
“We treat the customer like we’d like to be treated,” Latin said. “We really don’t really work for the insurance company, we work for the customer. So if you bring me your car, you’re the person I’m working for, because it’s your vehicle. I’d like to fix it like it was my own vehicle, it was my wife’s vehicle.
“We do it the right way, the safe way … that’s what’s kept us going for 28 years.”
Frank’s in the Media