The following article was featured in the PPG Repaint Reporter, Volume 68 Number 1, Spring 2009
Las Vegas--one of the most self-indulgent, opulent, and showy cities in North America--is a playground for the wealthy and those who dream of becoming so. For every affluent person, there is at least one "look at me" car, or in some cases, maybe two, three or four!
For the past 22 years, Mike Iannuccilli has built a business catering to the needs of those customers.
Exoticar Paintworks, Inc. specializes in Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Maybach, Aston Martin, Bentley, Ferrari, Porsche, Rolls Royce, Lamborghini, Maserati, Lotus, Lexus, Jaguar, Saleen, Spyker and Audi. The company is also certified to perform work on many of these premium brands exclusively. The sprawling 85,000 sq. ft. facility has a dedicated 2,500 sq. ft. clean room for aluminum repair. The 60 employee roster includes three full-time mechanics and four full-time painters, with six CMC downdraft booths and two heated, 4-car downdraft prep booths. It's like a world's fair exhibit on collision center technology.
But like most things in Vegas, there's more to the story.
Mike never intended to be a collision center owner. In fact, he doubts he even knew that the collision center industry existed. A native of Rhone Island, he left the East Coast in pursuit of the common young man's dream: success. But after working in construction for a short time, he felt certain that he could do better. He had heard there was money to be made in buying cars in Europe and bringing them home to the United States for sale. He saved up some money, bought and sold his first car, and used that money to finance a foreign car import business. He never worked in construction again.
Inevitably, though, those cars needed minor repairs. He had trouble finding someone who would perform the work to his standards. So he decided to hire someone to mend cars for him, and he approached a friend who had a luxury car dealership and asked him to send him some referrals.
Within a short time, Mike Iannuccilli was hiring more people and many of those who had worked for other collision centers were applying for jobs with Exoticar.
"I've never fixed a car in my life," says Mike. "But I do know the correct procedure, and I do know when something is done right--and so do my customers. That's the most important thing."
Today, Mike receives a large percentage of his business through word-of-mouth and dealership referrals. Vehicle owners make the pilgrimage from Arizona, California, New Mexico and Utah (and even as far as New York), because of Exoticar's foreign car expertise and reputation for first-rate quality.
Unlike many collision centers today, productivity is less of a concern for Exoticar. "We still want to be efficient," says Mike, "but it's far more important that we do it right the first time. I've learned to trust my first impression. If something doesn't look right, it's not and you might as well go about fixing it regardless of the time or cost."
Exoticar had been using PPG's Nexa Autocolor solvent-based products almost exclusively until recently. It was a tough-to-match Ferrarii that brought them to consider using PPG's Envirobase High Performance waterborne basecoat. "Walter Rapp, our PPG rep, worked to get the code from California for the OEM finish, which was water-based," says Mike. "We mixed it, sprayed it and had an instant match. Since then, we have enjoyed using Envirobase HP on many other makes and models."
When it comes to equipment, Mike insists on the best. "You can buy equipment at any quality level," he says, "But if you invest in the best, my experience has been that you will get that back ten times over."
Another area in which he believes strongly is training. Exoticar employees frequently attend highly-specialized training programs at Mercedes-Benz or other OEM training facilities. In fact, during the recent NACE show, Exoticar played host to a couple of hundred other collision center representatives who wanted to see what is possible in the realm of high-line auto certification and standards. Much of this training (and equipment investment) is required for certification by the OEM, and only after obtaining certification can a collision center purchase OEM structural parts. Although PPG often provides training on-site, Mike also has employees take advantage of off-site PPG training such as seminars on waterborne coatings.
Vegas has been very good to Mike, and he is the first to admit his good fortune. "I came to this town just as it was exploding with growth," he says. "By going into the top-end of the market, I am catering to an owner who wants to take good care of his or her investment."
Headed to Vegas to try your fortune? Step off the strip just a block or so, and you can see how one man made his own good fortune by treating everyone the same, and treating every car like one of his own.
Article reproduced with permission from PPG Repaint Reporter. Featured in PPG Repaint Reporter Volume 68, Number 1, pp. 23. Original publication.