Dennis Chan, a proud Air Force veteran, is living the American dream. When first opening his business, VIP Collision Center in Sacramento, California in 2011 he started with $5,000 and a tool box. Now, Chan has five employees, expanded the business twice and has made enough income to purchase a 5,000 square foot building in September 2015. He credits his continued success of organic growth through the development of personal relationships with customers – getting the job done right, the first time – and creating an environment for employees where everyone's part of the team; working together towards one goal.
He and his shop have been NAPA/Martin Senour customers since 2014 utilizing the brands' sanding, masking and paint supplies. He was recently profiled in Parts & People, a leading automotive trade publication, where he explained to the editor how he came to the decision to switch paint lines:
Chan was first a bit cautious when Genuine Paints Salesman Joe Sybrant and John Lujan, district sales manager for Martin Senour Automotive Finishes, approached him about trying Vortex® waterborne paint.
"As a business owner, sometimes when people come in and are super persistent, it throws you off balance," Chan said. "But just the way they were so upfront and nice and knowledgeable, that's what made me respect them enough to hear them out."
As someone who is eager to learn new techniques and try new products, Chan said he accepted the offer to test-drive the paint at the Reno training center.
"What really got me sold is one of the other guys there hit the panel with the hose and they were able to put the venturi on it, wait five minutes, and take a 600 D/A with an interface pad, feather it out, and one-and-a-half coats later, you're back to where you were before."
That was something he would have never tried with his other brand, Chan said. But even though he was impressed, Chan said he still had questions about how the products would perform in his own shop.
"'How is this going to spray in the wintertime? Is it going to flash right? Is it going to be blotchy because the weather is just too cold and it's getting too thick?' But they worked with me over the course of a few months, and we were able to build a relationship bouncing ideas off of each other."
Chan said he experimented with the products, using different guns and spray pressures to try to get them to not perform correctly.
"Once I got through winter, I knew it would be good for the rest of the year," he said.
Because he was used to spraying another paint brand when he was an employee, Chan said he thought he would choose it for his shop. But he's been impressed with the hiding ability of certain colors — reds would take six or seven coats with the other brand — and the productivity of Martin Senour's primers and the IPC21 clearcoat, which allows fast flash times, even air drying.
One product in particular is Martin Senour's Vortex Waterborne basecoat, an easy-to-apply, fast drying basecoat that provides excellent color match to today's OEM colors while meeting the strictest VOC limits in North America. Vortex is especially suited for collision centers specializing in high quality repair and refinishing. Plus, the color program allows for 200 beautiful custom and classic restoration colors utilizing the latest in cutting edge dry pigment technology.
Chan adds there's going to be a learning curve anytime you switch products, especially since a waterborne paint is different than solvent, but there's no special tools involved and you just need to practice. A hard working mindset, willingness to learn new tricks of the trade and continuous professional development has Chan positioned for future success. "Anyone can sustain business, but you need to make it grow," said Chan. While Chan never thought he could own his own business he's now envisioning multiple locations and a future of endless opportunities.