B Street Collision Center
An Interview with Tony Wiese, Production Manager of B Street Collision Center
By Paula Sharpe and Kyle Deremer, Creighton University MBA students
B Street Collision was opened in 1978 by Bob and Norma Wiese to become the “Premiere Post-Collision Solution Center” in Omaha. Through a focus on customer satisfaction and a commitment to quality car repair, B Street has built a reputation as a leading collision service in the Omaha area. Today, Bob and Norma’s eldest son Tony leads the company, with other family members filling important roles within the organization. We sat down with Tony at their state-of-the-art facility to speak about running a family business, spreading his ethical code to coworkers, and winning the BBB Integrity Award.
Tell us about your career trajectory and how you became head of B Street I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. As the eldest child, when my father passed away I stepped up to take over the shop. I had grown up in the shop, holding every position on the floor, so I was able to transition into the leadership role with ease. The whole family, my mom and four siblings, have stayed involved in the business as well, each of them filling essential roles in various operational areas. Management roles are held by non family members as well, and teamwork is essential on and off the floor.
What is the biggest positive to running the business with your family?
Definitely the level of trust. I know that we all have been raised with the same moral compass, so I do not feel obligated to have every decision run by me first. I can trust that they will make the right decision for the business and the customers. Our dad always taught us to do what is right, and we continue to run the business this way.
Can you give us an example of business or ethical challenges you’ve faced?
One of the biggest challenges is educating employees about our core principles, company direction, and business goals, and ensuring they have the resources to put them into practice, making them second nature so to speak. We do not always have as much time as we’d like to do these things, but you do what you can. It is the pains of small business and growth. In many cases the trick is to understand that you work for your staff, making sure they have all they need to be successful and exceed all goals.
How do you integrate the “do what is right” model in your business strategy?
In this industry, each product has two customers: the car owner and the insurance company. It can be difficult balancing the needs and desires of both parties. “Doing what is right” entails making sure that each party is comfortable with the final product. We have built close relationships with insurance companies so they trust our solutions and know that our claims involve only what was damaged in the accident. We also have the experience to understand damages that have been
caused by a collision, even if it does not seem directly related at first. If we believe that an area of the car has been damaged because of a particular accident, we will work with the customer and insurance company to ensure that it is fixed and paid for properly so that all parties are comfortable with the outcome.
How do you ensure quality control throughout your company?
We have developed a team based scheme on the floor so that techs are accountable for not only their work but also their teammates. It works well to help integrate and train new employees and assure accountability among the group. We also have strictly documented quality control checklists that a car must pass before being approved for return to the customer. It is also our goal that customers feel comfortable coming back to us if there are any problems with their car once it is returned to them. Because car accidents can do a lot of unexpected damage to a car, it is possible to miss something the first time around. If this is the case, we are happy to take a second look to make sure we have done everything we can to ensure the car is back to its original shape as possible and the owner is happy with the product.
What sort of training do new techs receive when they start at B Street?
We like to hire young men and women who have some training but less experience. That way we can guide them through our ethical and technical processes without having to break different habits they may have developed on another job site. Our training emphasizes corporate values and expectations, while allowing the individual to bring their own expertise to the floor as well as matching them with experienced techs to learn from their peers. We empower our employees to do everything necessary to return the car to its original state. If they believe a part was damaged because of a crash, they should investigate to find forensic evidence to support this and then solve the issue. We encourage workers to treat each car as their own, so that they are fixing a car as they would want their own fixed. This reference helps the techs understand the level of care that we expect from everyone.
So you rely on technical colleges to produce capable techs before you employ them?
Generally, yes. We look at willingness to learn and work in a team more than we look at experience. We can then mold those good habits and know that we are developing a hard working individual who is committed to their job. Our team based work model means that each employee is dependent on others, so they are able to push each other and teach each other all of the roles throughout the shop. Since each employee gains more skill sets, there is less down time and cars are able to be turned out at a faster pace. It is difficult work, but the techs are well rewarded and our low turnover seems to show that they are happy with their positions. I have worked basically every position in the store, and I try to model the work environment as one I would want to work in. I am happy to let employees leave early when they have finished their jobs so they can spend more time with their families. In return, they are happy to work extra hours when needed to complete high volume jobs, and they are rewarded well for their efforts.
Do you participate in any programs around the community that may help get more young people involved in the trade?
Community involvement is not a big part of our marketing strategy. Rather, we are involved because they are fun for our employees and benefit the community. We had “Hot Rods & Hogs” last year, which was a great experience for local auto fans to see some beautiful cars and gave our techs a chance to check out some neat cars they wouldn’t get to work on often. Proceeds from the event went toward supporting our troops around the world. We like doing these types of events because they are fun and allow customers to see us in normal situations rather than only after an accident.
I am also active in two programs, Boy Scout Exploring and Avenue Scholars, which bring information and active involvement about careers in the trades to high school students. There seems to be a diminishing number of students who are encouraged to pursue careers in a trade straight out of high school, when many may be interested in the automotive field rather than other paths. We are working with school districts around the community to increase awareness and encourage positive attitudes toward the trades.
What does it mean for B Street to receive the BBB Integrity Award this year?
We’ve participated in the process before. If you look at the winners of previous years’ awards, there is a trend of reliable, sustainable, and honest businesses that appear on the list. Integrity is understanding that you work for your stakeholders— making sure staff has training and resources to be successful, exceed customer expectations, and practice the principles that shape our moral compass. It makes “doing what is right” worth all of the hard work. We are honored to be listed among such great businesses in the Omaha area.
What does the future hold for B Street Collision?
As with any business, we would like to continue to grow. The company has seen sales growth annually since our father passed away, and we would like to continue this trend. Eventually this would mean expansion, but I want to make sure we perfect the output of the two shops now before we look to expand to another site. We work closely with insurance companies and consumers to identify new markets that may enable us serve as many customers as possible.
© 2017, Kracher & the Business Ethics Alliance