New Jersey Automotive July 2022

Page 24

LOCAL FEATURE

From Mr. Fix-It to Mr. Live-It: One Repairer’s Journey to Retirement After 39 years running a successful collision repair business, hand, Berman paid the owner a visit to check it out. The owner Robbie Berman has hung up his toolbelt. had sold the business, but when the deal fell through, Berman And he’s never been happier. found himself purchasing the business at the young age of 20. “My whole life was about collision repair, and now I can’t That move would set the course for the next four decades of his even imagine ever going back because life is just so different life. now,” shared Berman while chatting on a mid-Thursday morning With his father joining him as a business partner for the before starting his day with a workout at the gym. first 17 years until he retired, Berman first started out only as a As he approaches the eight-month anniversary of selling mechanical repair shop, and nine months later, he moved heavily his Dover-based business – Robbie’s Automotive and Collision into auto body. Specialists – Berman’s life has done a complete 180. No longer For Berman, being part of the auto body world wasn’t just is his time consumed with a maniacal non-stop schedule, high about fixing cars. He immersed himself into the body shop blood pressure, frustrations from employees and wars with culture as a member of the auto body association, starting back insurance companies. in the 1980s with the Now, his days involve Garden State Automotive driving his 10-year-old Federation, which triplets to school, heading eventually became AASP/ to the gym and making NJ. time for the little things in “I had a great network life. And his blood pressure of friends in AASP/NJ. I has improved substantially. always had Charlie Bryant Life was very different to run things by. I attended when he first entered the some great seminars over auto body world. the years that helped me His career all started run the business,” he with a simple appreciation recalled. for taking things apart and Robbie’s Automotive putting them back together earned much recognition, - and of course - a love for including being honored cars! by his peers as the 2019 At just 13 years old, recipient of AASP/NJ’s At the 2019 AASP/NJ Annual Meeting, L-R: Tom Elder, Berman was already Stan Wilson/New Jersey Jeff McDowell, Charlie Bryant, Robbie Berman, Jerry McNee taking apart go-karts, bikes Automotive Body Shop of and mopeds. By the time he reached age 15, he would visit a the Year Award, but the achievement he is most proud of was mechanical repair shop in Rockaway, and that’s where he began “being able to turn something that was my passion into a very taking cars apart. successful business.” “I just loved cars! Cars were fun to me, and I wanted to do A smart businessman and dog lover, Berman also earned something that didn’t feel like work,” Berman reflected. “I love the himself the title of “the guy with the dogs on the bus.” challenge, especially when someone can’t figure out how to fix Many likely remember seeing those ads for Robbie’s something. That is when I loved to get involved the most.” Automotive, which featured the image of Berman and his pet A natural problem solver, the young repairer was often dogs displayed on the back of local buses. Along with the referred to as “Mr. Fix-It” while driving around on his moped to heartwarming image, it boasted his trademark slogan, “Anyone lend a hand to whoever needed something fixed. During high can remove dents, but we remove doubts.” school, he’d often be found in his parents’ garage, building and It was an outside-of-the-box way to get his name out there fixing cars while spending his spare time at the local Texaco aside from a billboard, which he felt was an object one never repair shop. looked at more than once. It’s not surprising that soon after high school, Berman “A bus is a moving target. You can’t help but see it. So, I opened his very own little repair shop, which he ran out of a fourrealized it was a great way to get the name out there. bay local gas station he leased. “I knew everyone adored animals. People tend to not But in 1983, bigger and better came his way. remember every face they see, but they always will remember A letter announcing that the Schwalb Tire Company – a dogs. It was a pretty cool thing, and it really proved how much company that had been around since the 1950s – was closing it meant to people. It was extra special since the dogs were my would change everything. very own.” Interested in the equipment the outgoing tire shop had on He was truly proud of his career until recent years when

24 | New Jersey Automotive | July 2022