Dave Anderson has an interesting past. In 1979, when he was 22 years old, he escaped from the bitter life of communist controlled Romania. Leaving his four brothers, sister and parents behind, he sought political asylum in Austria. After extensive paper work he made his way to Portland, Oregon. His first job was nothing glamorous (janitorial), but Dave didn’t let that stop him. He very quickly set out to create his new life. As a youngster in Romania, Dave had assisted his two older brothers, John and Dumitru, in repairing old cars. So on that fateful day in Portland when he ran across a banged up Porsche 914 that needed a little work, Dave made the investment and recouped the reward. He then ran across another car and repeated the process and before he knew it he was in the auto body repair business.
By 1984 Dave was doing well, his business had grown significantly. It was around this time that he received a phone call. His older brother Mihai, younger brother George, and his brother in law had been captured while trying to escape Romania through Yugoslavia. They needed help and where facing the prospect of being sent back to Romania which would mean serious punishment and certain imprisonment.
Dave quickly set to work, writing letters to government officials and working around the clock to pull together the necessary documentation. Shortly there after he was on the plane. Having rented a car, he drove to Yugoslavia (now an American citizen) where he presented the United Nations office with papers… papers that would secure the release of his brothers and brother in-law, and bring them safely to Portland.
By 1995, Dave moved to the Rogue Valley, building his auto body repair facility “Anderson Auto Body & Paint” in Ashland (next to Butler Ford). Today the shop is Ashland’s largest full service auto body repair shop. Dave has stayed current with all of his auto body and paint certifications and training throughout the years. He knows how the job should be done, and what to expect from his crew. His staff is all ICAR certified, and highly experienced. Dave is now joined by his son Aurel and daughter Galina in running their local business.
The best part, there is no reason to go to Medford to get your vehicle repaired. Dave and his crew take the stress out of the process by dealing directly with your insurance company, finding the necessary parts, making the phone calls, and getting the job done in a timely manner, at a competitive price.
We stopped in to talk with Dave about his business, his family and his future. You’ll be happy to know that eventually all five of Dave’s siblings secured passage to the United States. They all work in the car repair business up and down the west coast.
Dave, thanks for taking the time to talk with us today. Please tell us a little bit about your family, your business, and the driving force behind your success.
From the earliest age I remember I had to carry my own weight. Growing up in a poor country, with no running water in our home, I had to carry water to the house every day. I had to tend the garden…I always had chores to do. I can still hear my dad explaining “it doesn’t matter where you live, where you are going to go…if you are a hard working man and are honest you will make it where you need to be.” I also learned early in life that I needed to have a plan, that in order to achieve my goals I had to be aware of the steps that needed to be taken to get there. Whenever tough times came up, which believe me they did, I knew that I needed to stay focused on my plan. I’d say that the driving force behind my success was because of those things, and also because of the connections I have made along the way. I have learned that it is all about who you know. I am learning to network, to get myself out there and create connections with members of our community. It’s not easy, and I do get nervous, but I am getting better at being able to relax and just be me. I have found that the relationships I am creating are helping me to further the success of our growing business.
I would have to agree relationships are truly key! What are some of the ways that Anderson Auto Body goes above and beyond in exceeding customer expectations?
I think one thing to remember as a customer is that we at Anderson’s have been in your shoes…we have all been in an accident and know that it is stressful. We know it can be confusing getting estimates, not understanding the details of the repair, and being unsure if you are getting a good deal. I guess I would just say, “Trust us”, take a look at our reviews, and ask around. You will undoubtedly hear about our great reputation. What sets us apart from our competitors is our staff and our product. Every person I have working here is upbeat, and knows what they are doing. We also walk each of our customers through the repair process, and keep them informed along the way. We perform quality services, and we have free loaner vehicles. We also offer shuttle services, and provide complimentary car wash and minor details to every repair that comes into our shop!
Talk to us a little bit about the specialty services you offer.
We have worked on everything here…from Subaru’s and hybrids to Porsche’s and even an Austin Martin. We repair all vehicles, all makes and models, foreign and domestic.
You also have the opportunity to work with your son Aurel and daughter Galina.
I feel blessed that I have the opportunity to work with my daughter and my son…though at times they are a hand full.
Aurel, is this true?
Yes, the feeling is mutual…but really, all jokes aside, it is great to be together.
Dave, you have assembled quite a team of highly trained individuals, who work closely together in restoring cars to their pre-accident condition. Can you introduce us to your team and what they do?
Of course. In the office we have Kirkland, Aurel, and Galina. Kirkland is our Office Manager, and has been with us for just about two years. I am thinking of adopting him, but the only thing he doesn’t know is that family works for free, something my kids are still adjusting to. I’m only kidding! Aurel (nicknamed Princess by the guys in the shop) started working here 12 years ago. I trained him as a painter initially, but he is really a jack of all trades. In the last couple of months he has moved from his tool box to a desk in office, and is currently a service writer. Galina started in April, and is in charge of all marketing materials, promotional ideas, the website, and basically does all the things I am too busy to do. Our painter Bryan has been in the industry for over 20 years, and has been at Anderson’s for over seven years. Blake is one of our three technicians. He was trained by his father (one of our past employees), at a very young age. We all call him Peanut. I am not sure why, but it has stuck! Moises has been with me the longest of my employees. He is a great technician, and has been in the industry for over 20 years. His son Moisises, who we all call Junior, is our other technician. He has been training under his father from a young age, and has been working at Anderson’s for over three years. Marcelo is our go-to guy. He is our detailer, paint assistant, and technician assistant. He has been with us for two years, always smiles, and always has his hair looking nice. I think he has a mirror in his tool box! Only kidding! I am lucky, rather blessed, to have such an amazing group of people working with me. Our entire crew is well trained and highly certified. These guys have got in their blood!!
I was very touched by your story of how you went to save your two brothers and brother in-law, and eventually helped your entire family move to the United States. The sheer amount of paper work and bureaucracy that you had to work through must have been overwhelming. Can you give us an update on how everyone is doing today?
Good…I should say Great. A few years back at my nephews wedding, it all hit me. We were all there, the entire family, three generations taking group photos. I was standing there looking at everyone, and thinking of how my decision at age 22 to live out my dream and come to America, had brought this entire family of over 100 people to be here, living the dream, as well. All of my family, my brothers, my sisters, and all of their kids, are all doing well. I see Aurel and Galina almost every day which I am thankful for. My son Mario, graduated from Harvard Law, and just recently passed the bar to practice patent law in Texas. I couldn’t be more proud of him, his determination, and work ethic. I am sure he got some of that from me…it’s got to be in his blood!
What are some your most important goals in working with the local customers of Ashland?
Well, the main goal is to have everyone in Ashland know we are here, and to choose us if they need any work on their car. That’s the main goal. We want to provide the highest quality repair possible, and bring each vehicle to pre-accident condition, which we do! I want to be an active member in this community, to be a part of the community events, and to recognize even more people when walking through town. I have created some great relationships, and met some pretty amazing people so far.
Galina, walk us through the process of someone who has just had an accident and then needs to get their car repaired at Anderson Auto Body.
Give us a call or come on down. If you need a ride, we’ll pick you up. If your car is not drivable, we can tow it to our shop. We will walk you through the repair process, from crash to completion. You’ll need to call your insurance, get a claim number, and let them know that you want Anderson’s to fix your car…and we’ve got it from there. We will keep you informed every step of the way, complete the repair quickly, and at a competitive rate. Plus, we back all of our paint and body work for life.
Dave, being located right outside of Ashland, what is the main benefit of working with you guys as opposed to driving up to Medford?
Local business = Local money. We are a local, independent, family owned and operated business. We are an established auto body shop, serving the Rogue Valley proudly since ’95. Most of our business comes from repeat customers and from referrals from our customers. Our quality cannot be beat, it is second to none. We are rated #1 with major insurance companies, and have been given 100% customer satisfaction ratings by them. There is no reason to go to Medford when the best choice for any of your automotive needs is right here in Ashland.
Aurel, when someone is getting their car repaired or considering having it repaired what are the three most important questions they need to ask?
1) Do you warranty your work?
2) What’s the quality of the repair?
3) How fast can you get it done?
…and how about when you are looking at getting your car painted. How do you ensure that the new color will match the rest of the car?
We use the latest color matching calibration technology. Your cars vin # is entered into our system, which tells us the exact paint code for your specific vehicle. It’s not a guessing game. We guarantee that our paint will match, and that it will look like the accident never happened.
Dave, you’ve seen alot and had to work very hard in your life to build the success you have today. What are three of your best tips for staying on track and not getting discouraged when the odds are against you?
Know where you want to go and what you want from life. Know why you want it, and how you are going to get it.
I know I am missing something here in our interview, so can you tell me something that Anderson Auto Body is doing that I would have never known to ask?
Towing, detailing, air conditioning services, alignment…anything your car needs, we can do it.
In conclusion are there any last words you would like to share with our readers?
I am thankful to be where I am today. Every morning when I wake up I feel blessed to be here in this beautiful country—that I was able to come to this free country and become what I planned to be—that I was able to work hard and succeed, just as my father told me I could.
Thank you to everyone that has brought their car to my shop. It is because of your business that I am in business.
Anderson Auto Body & Paint
1383 Hwy. 99 North, Ashland