Gerald Condon, the owner of Collision & Classics, Inc., considers Beaumont, Texas to be a friendly southeast college town, full of hard working men and women. However, Beaumont is only 29 miles from the Gulf of Mexico and that proximity to the coast was in Gerald’s mind on August 27, 2020, as Hurricane Laura quickly approached.
While Hurricane Laura barreled toward his town and some residents sheltered in place, Gerald packed up his family and evacuated to safety. In addition to Beaumont, Texas housing his place of work, the city is also home to some of the largest chemical and fuel refineries in the world.
As Gerald watched the news reports, the hurricane continued to ravage the surrounding areas, destroying several nearby cities beyond recognition. While his education is in commercial construction and architectural design, his first thought was how to help the community of people and business owners that he knows and loves. Despite his worry for those who stayed in their homes or didn’t have a safe place to stay, the wind raged on.
When the storm finally passed, Gerald was able to return to his home. He was relieved that his town had survived and surveyed the business that he first opened in 1987 (out of a garage at his former home). His collision repair shop was largely untouched, other than some damage to the outdoor sign. However, the storm severely impacted others in his collision care family.
“Some of my employees live in an area that had such severe damage that the power outages lasted for 30 days.” Gerald explains, “A bit further away, in Louisiana, the 150 mile per hour winds brought total devastation, as buildings can’t generally withstand that type of wind.”
Although Gerald felt fortunate for his own state-of-affairs, his goal in life is to help others and he did just that.
“We began taking ice, drinks, and snacks in coolers to various local businesses.” Gerald remembers, “They were extremely happy for our donation. We realized that, only by the grace of God, it could have been us. The hurricane turned slightly east in the last hour before landfall. That’s too close for me.”
For Gerald, helping others isn’t something that is exclusive to hurricane season. He practices daily gratitude and his business enjoys a strong relationship with local dealerships and community members. While their business name may sound as though it is geared toward servicing older cars, their specialty is repairing late model vehicles. “While that may seem contradictory, when you have a name like Collision & Classics, we have moved from restoring classic vehicles to focusing on newer vehicles. Specifically, we emphasize the correct regimen to properly restore vehicles brought to us through insurance claims.”
Gerald’s spirit of volunteerism is part of an ongoing philosophy that he brings to everything he does, “You never know how much a small contribution will help someone else’s life. I believe in adding the ‘service’ part to being in a service industry.”
Over the years, Gerald has done everything from volunteering with organizations like Matityahu Homeless Ministries (which provides food for those in need) to painting his local community theater.
He has also been the President of the Rotary Club and International Club. He volunteered as Co-Chairman for the Beaumont Chamber of Commerce (Membership Division) and was honored with an Alumni Award for “Outstanding Leadership” from Lamar University. The university regularly invites him to give twice yearly talks on “How to Find Your Inner Strength”. How do the students react? They love it, especially when he gives out a gift as part of his talk.
If this seems far from his work within the collision care industry, it isn’t. While Gerald expanded from his starter location, over 3 decades ago, into the popular and trusted collision repair shop he has today, he continues to look for new opportunities to keep consumers safe.
“In 2018 I created a mobile automobile estimating app with Erick Gauthia. Our inspiration was to give customers the ability to take photographs of their automobile from the scene of an accident, at home, or from their place of work. They can instantly send those image to our offices and we provide them with a quote.”
That emphasis on safety is why Collision & Classics, Inc. offers 20 model lines and is Assured Performance Certified, as well as Certified-Recognized with the following manufacturers: Nissan, INFINITI, FCA (Chrysler, Dodge, Dodge SRT, Fiat, Jeep, Ram, Mopar), Kia, Hyundai, Repair Capable Ford, SM, Subaru, Honda, and Acura.
To Gerald, receiving Certification is a worthwhile investment of time, talent, and money. “Being Certified enhances your repair capabilities and allows you to provide your customers with a great experience and more good. The public is very happy to hear about our shop being Certified, as it is in their best interest and shows that we service cars correctly.”
Whether you’re a collision repair business owner, a customer, or planning a trip to Beaumont, Texas, be sure to stop by and introduce yourself to Gerald and his great team at Collision & Classics, Inc.
Gerald adds yet another perk to his unforgettable business, “Occasionally, we have a snow cone truck that comes to our plaza for tenants and customers. We also have a EMS training center on site.”
Gerald is also not one to hold back. He has strong opinions about how to improve the collision repair industry, which he shares quarterly on the one hour radio show, “Automotive Hour” on KLVI-560 AM.
“Collision & Classics is next to Interstate 10, a freeway where 160,000 cars drive past our business daily. We have been here for 33 years and my commitment is that I will always bring my forthright personality to my business. I always tell the truth, so I want repairs that my clients can trust.”
While the length of Gerald’s business means that Collision & Classics has name recognition, they continue to market to their community online and through traditional advertisements, flyers, schools promotions, business journals, and other organizations. They also post a “pic of the day” on social media.
When COVID-19 hit, Gerald developed a detailed written protocol to keep his employees and customers safe, “In the very first days of the announcement, as COVID-19 was exposed as a highly contagious and transferable illness, I sat down with my staff and team and developed an approach for key, car, and facility upon arrival and departure of each customer.”
Gerald’s personal success is thanks to a stalwart pace that allows him to focus on his collision repair business and also run 4 other companies. Gerald explains, “I sleep like a stone. I am a modest eater and enjoy good health. I am hands-on. I never ask an employee to do something I haven’t done before. I love to see others perform well.
*At the time of publication, Collision & Classics has faced more climatic weather with Hurricane Delta. While the wind and tidal surge were not as strong as they were with Hurricane Laura, the aftermath was difficult. A neighboring business lost their roof, which also knocked out three phase power for businesses like Gerald’s. While the power outage is temporary, Gerald’s employees were ready to help. To relieve the stressors, Gerald took his team out to a meal, as the power company was overwhelmed by requests.
To connect with Collision & Classics, visit them online!
Follow them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/collisionandclassics/