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Carubba Collision on course for new identity following sale

Carubba Collision has built name recognition one crunching hit at a time.

The chain of collision shops sponsors the "Carubba Collision," highlighting hits delivered by Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bills players.

But the Carubba name will eventually disappear from its stores and advertising, after Carubba Collision was bought by Illinois-based Gerber Collision and Glass. Expansion plans for the chain are in the works.

Gerber is part of the Boyd Group, a publicly traded company based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The terms of its deal for Carubba Collision were not disclosed.

Sponsoring the Carubba Collision at Sabres and Bills games has made the company a "household name, especially in Buffalo," said Joe Carubba, the president and CEO. "It's worked well for us. It really put us on the map."

With the addition of Carubba's 18 stores, the Boyd Group now has more than 465 stores connected with its Gerber Collision and Glass operations in the United States.

"It is within our strategy to have a single brand in all of our U.S. businesses," said Brock Bulbuck, the Boyd Group's CEO. "We would expect a brand change."

All of its U.S. stores will eventually operate under the Gerber name, Bulbuck said. "The Carubba name is probably not going to continue certainly beyond a year. I would expect the brand transition would occur sometime within the first year."

Bulbuck said it was too soon to talk about the company's advertising plans for the Buffalo market, and whether sponsoring sports highlights would continue. "We're going to look to do what's right in the marketplace for our business and the community the best we can."

Carubba Collision was founded in 1955 and has expanded across upstate New York, with a core group of stores in the Buffalo Niagara region. The company has 330 employees, all of whom will be kept on following the sale, Joe Carubba said. He himself will switch to the role of regional vice president.

"People are going to get the same service, talk to the same people they've already talked to," he said. "Eventually we'll be operating under the Gerber operating model, but not much is really going to change."

Carubba said the decision to sell the business "honestly was tough in a way, but it absolutely was time to do something like this."

Bulbuck said Carubba Collision has a solid reputation with both vehicle owners and insurance companies. "They fit the profile of companies that we like to acquire as part of our growth strategy," he said.

Through the Carubba Collision deal, the Boyd Group now operates in 27 states, along with Canada. Carubba Collision's sale is part of a trend in the collision shop industry: consolidation.

The Boyd Group is one of the "big three" nonfranchised companies in the collision shop industry. It used to be the "big four," until two of the companies, Caliber Collision and Abra Auto Body Repair of America, agreed late last year to merge.

The collision shop business is highly fragmented, but has undergone rapid consolidation in the past decade, Bulbuck said. "Not withstanding that, there's still about 65 percent of the U.S. market in the hands of single shop independents," he said.

Bulbuck said the Boyd Group has a three-pronged growth strategy: increasing sales at existing stores, opening new stores, and acquiring stores like Carubba Collision. The Boyd Group has set a goal of doubling the size of its business and revenues during a five-year period ending in 2020.

For the first nine months of 2018, the Boyd Group reported profits of about $36 million.

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