BOOMING BUSINESS Growth No Accident at A & J Collision Repair
Jody Gatchellâ€™s A & J Collision Repair continues to expand with quality work and customer service, full story, Page 7.
Weather has Restoration Firms Hopping
A group organized by the Conway Chamber hears about the dramatic turnaround of Franklin, Tenn., during a community visit last month.
Chamber organizes community ‘Benchmarking’ trip to Franklin, Tenn. In the mid 1980’s, Franklin was a sleepy Tennessee town with a half vacant downtown and more than 100 structures scheduled for condemnation due to neglect. Today, Franklin is home to more than 30 North American corporate headquarters. It is on countless “Best Places” lists on a number of business, community and social fronts. This April 13-15, a group of 19 Faulkner County community leaders, elected officials and non-profit executives went to Franklin to hear their peers tell the story of that transition. Chamber President Brad Lacy said the Franklin trip was one he has wanted to organize for years. “I first visited Franklin in 1998 and have watched their dynamic growth. “They are a perfect example of
how good planning, design and quality of life measures have created one of our country’s premier business destinations.” The Conway delegation heard from representatives of Franklin City Government, Williamson County Government, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and private developers. Each group gave presentations on their respective roles in Franklin’s progress over the past three decades. Conway City Council member Andy Hawkins said the leadership of Franklin and Williamson counties stood out in their consistency and cooperation. “I was amazed at how many people were on the same page regarding the value of high quality development. It was almost universally understood by their citizens and elected officials. “Franklin intentionally chose a
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higher standard for itself.” The group toured Franklin’s historic downtown area as well as its primary office corridor known as Cool Springs. Attendees said that hearing the story and seeing the results of the work was inspirational. “It was great to see such a vibrant downtown. We brought back so many ideas that will work in Conway,” said Conway Downtown Partnership Chair Lori Quinn. “The trip got me very motivated to come back and get to work. Our downtown and community is ahead of where Franklin was when it started.” Lacy said trip attendees are planning a debriefing session to compare notes. This summer the Chamber also plans to host developers from Franklin during a real estate assessment and community tour.
With record flooding, damaging winds and deadly tornados, the spring of 2011 will not be soon forgotten. Virgil Williamson, owner of Williamson Restoration in Conway, says this year stands out as a year of destructive weather events. “This is a type of situation, professionally, we may see only every 10 or 15 years.” Williamson said that the entire restoration industry is working around the clock to mitigate losses associated with Faulkner County’s spat of severe weather. “It’s so bad that our suppliers have 500 pieces of rental equipment coming in from out of state. This is in addition to all of the equipment the individual companies own.” Williamson said that, ideally, property owners will take the time to determine their level of risk and their need for flood insurance in advance of a loss. According to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) website, homes and businesses with mortgages from federally regulated or insured lenders in high-risk flood areas are required to have flood insurance. While flood insurance is not federally required if you live in a moderate-to-low risk flood area, it is still available and strongly recommended. Should your home or business take on water, Williamson says the first step is to observe and document all of the circumstances causing the event. The causes for flooding can have an impact on insurance reimbursement. “If you have roof damage due to winds that cause water damage, it’s a completely different situation than if rising water comes into your home.” Williamson also says that the kind of water in your property is relevant when choosing the level of response. “Water from a broken water heater is not the same as flood water or gray water. There are serious health concerns that come with flooding from the outside or sewage. It requires a professional with the appropriate equipment and chemicals.” While your insurance company is involved in the restoration process, the ultimate responsibility for choosing a repair or restoration firm belongs to the policy holder. Williamson says that property owners should look at a few key factors before selecting a firm. “I would make sure the company is bonded and associated with a reputable industry association. I would also ask how long they have been doing business in this area. It’s worth the time to look into the history of whoever you’re going to hire.”
Conway Economy at a Glance Unemployment Rate March 2011 US ....................................8.8% Arkansas............................7.8% Faulkner County .............. 6.8% Conway..............................5.8% Labor Force March 2011 Conway Employed........................26,666 Unemployed.....................1,647 Total................................28,313 Faulkner County* Employed........................53,525 Unemployed.....................3,900 Total................................57,425 *Includes Conway Sales Tax Collections Conway- YTD March 2011........................$3,144,947 2010........................$3,304,291 Percent Change -4.8% Conway-Annual* 2010......................$21,868,102 2009......................$20,825,010 Percent Change 5.0% *Tax Rate 1.75 Faulkner County –YTD March 2011........................$1,168,543 2010........................$1,159,090 Percent Change 0.8% Faulkner-Annual* 2010........................$7,834,226 2009........................$7,731,691 Percent Change 1.3% *Tax Rate 0.5% Restaurant Sales* Conway – YTD March 2011......................$35,502,757 2010......................$33,026,113 Percent Change 7.5% Annual Sales 2010....................$139,864,203 2009 ...................$130,911,970 Percent Change 6.8% *Includes mixed drink sales Hotel Sales Conway - YTD March 2011........................$4,029,019 2010 ...................... $3,994,634 Percent Change 0.9% Annual Sales 2010......................$17,590,242 2009..................... $16,404,114 Percent Change 7.2% Building Permits Single Family Residents YTD - April 2011 ........................ 44 permits 2010 ..................... 104 permits Percent Change -57.7% Total for the Year 2010 ..................... 223 Permits 2009 ..................... 259 Permits Percent Change -13.9%
Average Construction Cost* YTD - April 2011.......................... $216,086 2010...........................$158,649 Percent Change 36.2% *Not including land or lot improvements Average Square Footage YTD - April* 2011 ..........................2,905 2010 ..........................2,392 Percent Change 21.4% *Total under Roof Lottery Sales Faulkner County April.........................$1,307,406 Annual*..................$16,402,525 Annual Per Capita .......$156.01 Total State April ......................$38,785,626 Annual*................$459,548,883 Annual Per Capita........$153.55 * May 1, 2010 – April 30, 2011 Natural Gas Severance Tax Distribution April 2011 Faulkner County...........$17,761 Conway.........................$22,097 2010 Faulkner County.........$171,543 Conway.......................$221,255 Wellhead Price per MCF* February 2011 ................................$3.90 2010 ................................$4.36 2009.................................$3.72 2008.................................$8.29 Yearly Average 2010 ......................... $4.16 2009 ......................... $3.71 2008.......................... $8.07 2007.......................... $6.37 2006 ......................... $6.40 2005 ......................... $7.33 2004 ......................... $5.46 2003 ......................... $4.88 2002 ......................... $2.95 *1000 cubic feet Number of Wells* Faulkner County..................257 Total in Field . ..................3,315 *As of Feb. 17, 2011 Estimated Life Time Value of Production* Total Field.........$7,968,816,167 *As of Dec. 10, 2010
Information provided by pulseofconway.com
Conway Unemployment Rate Drops to 5.8%: Second Lowest in Arkansas BY ROGER LEWIS
Conway’s unemployment rate spiked in January to 6.8% and then dropped in March to last fall’s level of 5.8%. Of the 20 cities in Arkansas for which unemployment rates are published, Conway’s March rate was the second lowest with Sherwood being the lowest at 5.5%. The highest rate was West Memphis with 13.5% and Pine Bluff and El Dorado tied at 12.3%. Faulkner County’s rate of 6.8% ranks 14th among counties in Arkansas with Washington County being the lowest at 5.9% and Arkansas County the highest at 18%. The Arkansas Employment and Security office does not release unemployment figures by business sectors; therefore, there is no definitive data on what businesses are laying off workers. A general review of the various economic data available points to the construction industry as a major source of unemployment. Residential and commercial construction in Conway is down by over 50% from 2010. No building permits have been issued for the construction of duplex or multifamily units YTD. Restaurant and retail sales have had moderate growth. Unemployment rates for counties and cities are not seasonally adjusted like the State and National
rates. (Seasonal adjustments are a statistical method for removing variations due to seasonal trends such as temporary employment during the Christmas holiday season.) If Conway’s unemployment rates were seasonally adjusted, most likely the January spike in unemployment rate would not have occurred. For Arkansas, the March non-seasonal adjusted rate was 8.0% while the seasonal adjusted rate was 7.8%. Nationally, the non-seasonal adjusted rate was 9.2% compared to the seasonally adjusted rate of 8.8%. Arkansas’ March seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 7.8% was 19th in state rankings with North Dakota being the lowest at 3.6% and Nevada the highest with 13.2%. Unemployment data is based on where workers live, not where they work. If a Conway resident works in Little Rock and becomes unemployed, that person would be included in Conway’s unemployment calculations. Likewise, if someone from Houston was working in Faulkner County’s natural gas industry and was laid off, he or she would be in Houston’s unemployment calculations and not in Faulkner County’s. Conway’s workforce of 28,313 is approximately half (49%) of the County’s workforce of 57,425. Conway’s unemployed workforce is 1,679 compared to the 2,253 unemployed living within Faulkner County but outside Conway. The unemployment rate for this group
living outside of Conway is 7.7%, nearly 1% higher than the overall county unemployment rate of 6.8%. This reveals that a larger portion Faulkner County’s unemployed live outside of Conway. One can become a little complacent when comparing the low unemployment rates of Conway and Faulkner County with other places that are much higher. A 6.8% unemployment rate does not sound as bad as the actual count of 3,900 unemployed workers in the county. There are a lot of families in Faulkner county struggling and in need of help. Extending unemployment benefits and job creation projects are important. Local food banks run by charities and churches have reported that they exhaust their supplies weekly. The Bethlehem House for the homeless and other social services agencies have all experienced increased activity during this recent recession. These are only stopgap measures providing essential needs until the economy improves. The economy is improving slowly from when the US employment rate was hovering around 10%, but it is going to take several years before we see much lower unemployment figures. When the unemployment rate for Conway dipped to 3.3% in 2007, “Help Wanted” signs were plentiful outside of restaurants and various businesses. Help Wanted signs are rare now; but hopefully that will soon change. More information can be obtained from pulseofconway.com.
Museum road work The Museum Road extension should be open to traffic by the end of May. The $1.5 million project connects Hwy 64 and Lower Ridge Road. The project will provide a new North/South connection in eastern Conway.
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CONWAY’S PARKS SYSTEM: The Place to Play
here are no great cities with inadequate parks systems. Good parks alone won’t make your city great, but not having them is a disqualifier. They increase property values. They contribute to the physical health and social wellness of our entire community. They’re fun. We won’t take up any more space defending their value to everyone who lives here. But for a moment, we would like to recognize the newfound “destination” status of Conway’s facilities. For years Conway has had
the location and amenities to attract big time athletic events. We have the hotels, restaurants and shopping to lever the benefit of hundreds of weekend visitors. We just didn’t have the facilities. That has changed. The new City of Colleges and College Station parks can accommodate major tournaments. This spring, Conway has already hosted a 94 team youth baseball tournament. 78 of those teams were from out of town and several were from out of state. Ask a restaurant owner or store manager if they saw
the economic impact of those little uniforms and their families. By the way, this was the largest youth baseball tournament ever held in Arkansas. Later this summer we will host more than 200 basketball teams for a major youth tournament. This event was held in another Arkansas town in year past. The reason for the switch? A critical mass of basketball courts all close to each other along with the required hotels and restaurants. Having three colleges in our town obviously complements our efforts. Just like
having a first class softball facility allowed CBC to host two tournaments this spring that brought in more than two dozen college teams from out of town as well as hosting regional playoffs. A brief survey of this spring and summer’s athletic events piles up some incredible numbers. Who knew that last month Conway hosted a 123 team volleyball tournament in the Magie and Don Owen Centers? There are several tournaments of every type scheduled over the next two months that will draw 40, 50
and 60+ teams from out of town. All this is taking place as our college students (and their entertainment dollars) are heading home for the summer. It’s a pretty good setup. For more than a decade of record setting growth, Conway’s parks facilities were essentially static. We fell behind. The last five years have been spent catching up. This year will be the first time we see real results. The thousands who visit Conway are finally aware of what we have to offer. A little awareness of what they offer us might be in order.
Airport Relocation Reaches Milestone After more than a decade of planning, studies and permitting a crowd of 50 Conway residents and community leaders gathered April 22nd to break ground on a new airport for Conway. The $25 million project is located in the Lollie Bottoms area in the southwest corner of the city. Once opened, the new airport will replace Conway’s existing airport in the center of town. The new airport will include a longer runway (5,500 ft) and is located in an area that can accommodate neighboring aviation and commercial needs. Conway’s current airport has less than 3,500 feet of usable runway. The short runway and lack of a safety overrun area has contributed to two fatal crashes since 1990. The current location, between Interstate 40 and Harkrider Avenue is completely surrounded by residential, commercial and transportation activities restricting any improvement or growth. Conway Mayor Tab Townsell said that the groundbreaking marks the “end of the begin-
Senator Mark Pryor speaks at the April 22 Airport Groundbreaking as Mayor Tab Townsell, Rep. Tim Griffin and FAA Official Ed Agnew look on.
ning” to the lengthy relocation process. “It has taken 12 years of a dedicated effort and more than 30 years of resolve to get where we are today. We have many people to thank. Conway’s future citizens are indebted to all of them.
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Currently, the airport is scheduled for a five year construction process. Local officials hope to accelerate that timeline. “The quicker we get the airport open, the quicker we remedy the serious issues surrounding our current
airport. Seamless funding will also save taxpayer dollars” added Townsell. Plans are in place to move air traffic to the new location before the airport is 100% complete. Once the necessary infrastructure is in place
planes will transition while a terminal and other complementary facilities are still under construction. Mayor Townsell said that city government is already working with the community on plans for the current airport site. “It’s important for the former site to become an asset for Conway. The interstate visibility and its central location offer a tremendous opportunity for well planned development.” Senator Mark Pryor and Representative Tim Griffin were also on hand for the ground breaking ceremony. During his remarks, Senator Pryor praised the teamwork he has witnessed throughout the planning process. “This is great day for Conway. The teamwork and cooperation the people of Conway have put in to this project stands out as an example to the entire state.” Representative Griffin said that the project was an investment in the economic future of central Arkansas. “Let there be no mistake: This airport is an economic engine for Central Arkansas and that means more and better paying jobs.”
Chamber Provides Opportunity to Explore China
The Conway Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting a nine-day “Explore China” trip October 21-29, 2011. Chamber members, the general public and their families are invited to learn more about China, its history and beautiful sites, and its economic growth.
Attendees will explore ancient and modern sites in Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou and Hangzhou. Sightseeing highlights include The Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Garden of the Mandarin Yu, the Pudong Economic Development Zone and more. The Chamber is partnering with Citslinc International, an
organization that has made it possible for Chambers to experience China at an exceptional price for nearly 30 years. Each year, Citslinc helps more than 10,000 people travel to China. Recently, Citslinc International President Leo Liu led a pre-tour briefing in Conway for those wanting additional information about the Explore China trip. More than 40 confirmed and prospective attendees attended. Kathy Wyrick, vice president of investor relations at the Conway Chamber, says that this trip provides the “chance of a lifetime” for anyone who has had an interest in traveling to China. “Through this partnership with Citslinc International, thousands of people each year are able to travel with ease as they
Shanghai is just one of the stops on the Conway Chamber’s October trip to China. For information on attending the 9 day trip, call the Chamber at 501.327.7788 or visit ConwayArkansas.org/China
enjoy one of the world’s most vibrant nations,” said Wyrick. “Having had two Chamber staff members participate in a previous Citslinc tour, and after meeting with Mr. Liu, we are confident in providing this opportunity to the area.” The cost of the trip is $2,099.
This price includes seven nights in four- and five-star double occupancy hotel rooms, round-trip international airfare from San Francisco, a flight from Beijing to Shanghai, 20 meals, comprehensive sightseeing, deluxe tour buses for transportation, a professional
East Fork Cadron Creek
tour manager, fluent Englishspeaking tour guides, fees for all included tour attractions, baggage handling, and airport tax and the air fuel surcharge. To learn more about the Explore China trip or to download a reservation form, visit ConwayArkansas.org/China. The website also features an interactive guide and a promotional video. A non-refundable deposit of $200 per person is due with the registration form. Final payment must be received by the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce no later than Tuesday, July 19. “We are pleased that our first tour group is over half full,” said Wyrick. “We encourage those who are interested to reserve their space as soon as possible.”
9 GREENBRIER LANE
Beaver Fork Lake
Old Morrilton Hwy
3160 MILLER’S VIEW
Cadron Valley Country Club
5245 LOST CANYON
65 65 64
16 AGARITA COVE Tyle r St
Centennial Valley Golf Club
Mountain View Park Hendrix College
Laurel Park Conway Country Club
k St60 60 Oa
1721 SCOTT ST.
E Oak St 64
E Oak St
Fifth Avenue Park
Airport Park Central Baptist College
TOP 5 RESIDENTIAL home sales in faulkner county APRIL 2011 Dennis F Cantrell Field
Oak Grove Cemetery
Highway 60 W
1271 Scott Conway $315,900, built in 1937 6 bed, 3.5 bath 3,060 square feet ($104.54/sq. ft.) University Of Central Arkansas
Dave Ward Dr
16 Agarita Cove Conway $350,000, built in 2002 3 bed, 2.5 bath 3,676 square feet ($99.29/sq. ft.) 286
3160 Miller’s View Conway $366,000, built in 1995 4 bed, 4 bath 3,587 square feet ($108.03/sq. ft.) 286
9 Greenbrier Conway $299,000, built in 2007 3 bed, 2.5 bath 2,418 square feet ($123.86/sq. ft.)
S Salem Rd
5245 Lost Canyon Dr. Conway $595,000, built in 2010 4 bed, 4.5 bath 4,217 square feet ($153.90/sq. ft.)
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CONWAY 2.0: CAT2
Vernon Smith grew up on a family-owned poultry farm in South Africa and has extensive experience in the poultry industry. He earned Bachelor of Commerce degrees in computer science and business economics as well as an Honors degree in computer science. Before co-founding CAT2, Vernon worked as a process control specialist in the food industry. He currently serves as CAT2’s CFO.
Tell us about CAT2? CAT² specializes in innovative software solutions designed specifically for the food industry including real-time data collection from the plant floor, real-time reporting for production and inventory, and farm-to-fork traceability. We provide custom solutions that are efficient, increase yield and throughput, and measurably reduce costs. We have proven experience in the beef, pork, poultry, turkey, seafood, egg, and produce industries. Our clients span 6 continents and include 60% of the top 50 meat and poultry companies in North America, 3 out of the top 5 American egg producers, and 1 of Europe’s leading meat processors. How long have you been in business? We were established in 1996. We did the same business in South Africa for a number of years before moving our operations to the USA in 1996. How many employees do you have? We currently have a team of 18 people spanning disciplines such as software development, implementation & training specialists, project managers, marketing & sales, instrumentation specialists and office management & accounting. All are based in our Conway office
CYP to Network After Hours at Oak Street Bistro Conway Young Professionals is hosting its inaugural “Off the Clocks!” event Tuesday, May 10, from 5-6:30 p.m. at Oak Street Bistro. CYP chairman Aaron Beard said that the event gives young professionals an opportunity to learn about CYP, meet fellow members and network.
other than one team member who is based in Mexico. We are in the process of establishing a Mexican office. How did you get from South Africa to Conway, Arkansas? That’s quite a long story. We originally set up operations in Mena, AR in 1996. We moved to Mena because we had a joint venture with a local company who also wrote software for the food companies. We lived in Mena for a few years, but as our customer base is so widespread we soon realized we needed to live closer to a major airport. Conway caught our eye for various reasons. It was a nice smaller city to raise our families in, but conveniently close to the Little Rock airport. At that time, it was one of the few cities that offered high speed cable internet access, which was crucial to our business. We also liked the progressive attitude of the city and its people. Conway is a booming city full of opportunity. We were lucky enough to be the 2nd company to build our office in the technology park and look forward to going to work every day in the beautiful surroundings. We are also happy to see that Conway now has many good hotels & restaurants with excellent menus and a full bar. We have customers visiting us from
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all over the world so this is a great plus for us. We have also received great support from the Conway Chamber and Development Corp as well as our local branch of First Security Bank, all of whom have been instrumental in assisting us with growing our business. Describe your experience running a technology focused business in Arkansas? Although our business is based in Arkansas, we actually have very few customers in the state. We do a good amount of business with Tyson so it is very convenient being so closely located. Conway has proved to be an excellent location for our business. On a personal level, it is a great place to raise a family. On a professional level, we have found all the support we need in the local business community. We have worked closely with the team at First Security Bank, who have provided us with excellent support and assistance. The Conway Development Corp worked closely with us and provided great support during the planning and construction of our office in the Technology Park. We have also been very lucky to be able to recruit highly skilled and motivated individuals from the local university who have been valuable team members for many years.
“An ‘Off the Clocks!’ event is an opportunity to get plugged in and meet other young professionals while
unwinding after a long day,” said Aaron Beard, CYP chairman. “Whether you are staying for dinner, or just swinging by, it’s a great transition from work to home.” As a sponsor for the first “Off the Clocks!” gathering, Oak Street Bistro will offer 15 percent off dinner at the restaurant from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Complimentary hors d’oeuvres will be served and a cash bar will be available. To learn more about “Off the Clocks!” and Conway Young Professionals, contact Beard at CYP@ConwayArkansas.org.
WHAT’S THAT GONNA BE? Church of the Nazarene North Arkansas District Office The 2,500 square foot facility was designed by Sowell Architects and will serve as offices for the Church of the Nazarene District Superintendant. Where is that? On East German Lane behind Harp’s Grocery. When will it be open? According to project architect, Rik Sowell, the office should be open by the end of May.
Business Growth No Accident at A & J Collision Repair Jody Gatchell is the owner of A & J Collision Repair, a full-service auto body repair facility specializing in collision repair and automobile restoration. Since it opened in Conway in 1997, A & J Collision Repair has worked with vehicle owners, insurance companies and vendors to restore damaged vehicles to their pre-accident conditions. This summer, the auto body shop will move from the building on North Creek Drive that it has occupied for 12 years to a new location at 1250 Thomas G. Wilson Dr. According to Gatchell, business sales have increased dramatically in five years, demonstrating the need for additional space. The new building is 18,000 square feet, which will double the size of the current repair area. Gatchell attributes the growth of his business to a commitment to customer service and to quality, which aligns with the auto body repair shop’s slogan: “Where quality and professionalism collide!” For the past five years, residents of Faulkner County have named A & J Collision Repair as one of the best auto body shops in the county. The Customer Comes First “I often remind my staff of 15 that I don’t write their checks,” said Gatchell. “The customers do. Our main goal is to take care of them.” The average person will have an automobile accident once every seven years. Whether they have been in an accident before or have been involved in their first one, the insurance claims and repair processes can be daunting. “We want our customers to know that we are here to take the pain and stress away,” said Gatchell. “We believe that the working relationship between the vehicle owner, the repair facility and the insurance company is a very important part of the repair process. We do everything we can to make the process easy for everyone.” One way A & J Collision Repair stays customer-focused is by keeping vehicle owners informed about the status of their automobiles. “Customers can view the repair process online at AJCollisionRepair. com,” Gatchell said. “We understand that they want their cars back quickly, so we want to give them an opportunity
A & J Collision clients can track the repair process for their vehicle on AJCollisionRepair.com.
to check up on the repair process at their leisure and avoid the frustrating ‘waiting game.’” Much of the business at A & J Collision Repair is gained from the referral of past customers and insurance agents. A & J Collision Repair is one of the approved State Farm Select Service® repair facilities in Faulkner County. Jay Bernard, an agent with State Farm Insurance, said that Gatchell sincerely cares about the quality of his repairs and his customers’ satisfaction, which is why A & J Collision Repair has a good reputation. “I have found that what sets Jody and his team apart is their professional care and personal approach toward their customers,” said Bernard. “Not only does A & J focus on the intricate details of each repair, I am very
impressed with how well Jody’s team keeps their customers informed. “Throughout the repair process, you will be able to see the progress of your vehicle on his website and will receive an email, text or a friendly call from his staff updating you on the process,” Bernard continued. While customer service is important, Gatchell acknowledges that without a quality product, this commitment would be in vain. Quality Parts and Quality Paint Because automobile repair is a highly visible industry, Gatchell says that it is important to deliver an exceptional finished project, which begins with quality parts and quality paint. A & J Collision Repair’s metal shop uses a computerized frame machine
to verify the condition of the damaged vehicle’s frame repair. The team then restores the chassis to factory specifications and repairs or replaces any part that is damaged. “Because safety is our foremost concern, we only use parts that pass all factory standards,” said Gatchell. A & J Collision Repair also prides itself on using quality paint. As a PPGCertified Collision Repair Center, A & J Collision Repair uses a paint refinish system developed by PPG Industries, the world leader in automotive finishes. “We have made a major investment in the finest painting system available, and with our paint booth, we can assure customers that we can restore their vehicles to factory finish if not better,” Gatchell said. A & J Collision Repair is the first auto body repair shop in Faulkner County to switch to environmentally friendly waterborne paint. Unlike its solventbased counterparts, water-based paint reduces production of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), making it easier to control the air quality inside of a repair shop. In recognition of its sustainability efforts, A & J Collision Repair was honored with the “Get Smart. Go Green!” award during the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2010 annual meeting. “We take this recognition seriously and want to continue to do what we can to be environmentally conscious,” Gatchell said. “This is one reason we chose to refurbish an already existing building rather than construct a new one.” To learn more about A & J Collision Repair, visit their website at AJCollisionRepair.com or connect through Twitter and Facebook. About Jody Gatchell Jody Gatchell has been working in the automotive repair industry since 1994 after completing eight years of service in the U.S. Army. A native of Granite Falls, Minn., Gatchell moved to Conway in 1996 and founded A & J Collision Repair the following year. He is an active board member for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arkansas and the Central Arkansas Chapter of the American Red Cross. Gatchell is also a contributor to “Arkansas Good News,” a publication that focuses on stories about Faulkner County residents making a positive impact on life in Arkansas. FAULKNER COUNTY BUSINESS JOURNAL | 7