Next Generation Taking Over at Oakdale Collision Center
The mild winter allowed Michelle and Don Juen Jr. to ease into ownership of the auto body shop, after taking over in October.
Don Juen Jr. and Michelle Juen took ownership of Oakdale Collision Center in October from Don’s parents, who established the auto body shop about 12 years ago in the former emissions testing building. Now, Don runs the shop and Michelle runs the office. Both are Tartan High School graduates who grew up in Oakdale. We asked them about the business, and what kinds of changes they’re making as new owners.
Oakdale Patch: Before your parents opened the shop 12 years ago, had they been in this kind of a business?
Don Juen Jr.: Yeah, my dad did about 10 years prior. He owned a couple body shops with a partner. He worked at a dealership prior to that. He’s been in the body business for almost his whole life
Oakdale Patch: So did you grow up around the garage?
Don Juen Jr.: Oh yeah.
Oakdale Patch: Was there ever any question that you would go into the same field?
Don Juen Jr.: I was actually into construction for a while right out of high school. I was a bricklayer, commercial bricklayer. I did that for quite awhile. Probably six, seven years out of high school. Then worked for Dad at his other shops and came here when he decided to open this up.
Oakdale Patch: What made you make that transition from construction to working for your dad?
Don Juen Jr.: Construction has its slow times, so like during the winter I had some time off, so I’d come and work for him on my times off and then I just kind of got to like it so one of the times off I just never went back.
Oakdale Patch: Michelle, what was your background?
Michelle Juen: Years ago I was a massage therapist and I ended up with bad thumbs and a bad neck, so I really had to get out of that. While I was going to school for massage, I worked at a bakery, just worked at the front counter, and when my thumbs went bad, I just walked in there and said, “Hey can I have a job?” So my boss, she just created me a job and I became the office manager accounts receivable and from there I came to here.
Oakdale Patch: How did the mild winter affect your business? You had mentioned
Don Juen Jr.: It’s all weather-driven. If we get rain or snow or ice or anything, we usually get busy. So like last year when it snowed every day, you couldn’t hardly even drive a car through our parking lot, we had so many damaged cars around here. I think we had 60 cars around here in the shop damaged needing repairs. Not the case this winter. Worst winter on record.
Oakdale Patch: Is this a field that’s changing a lot?
Don Juen Jr.: Yeah, we’ve got to send guys to training because of the different steels and different metals that they’re using on cars nowadays. All the different electronics. All the hybrid cars, they’re hard to work on. If you weld or do something wrong on a hybrid car and you zap the battery on it, it’s about 10 grand. It’ll cost you, so you don’t want to be doing that.
Michelle Juen: Even in the auto industry, they’re looking at going green so there’s new paint now, it’s a waterborne paint.
Don Juen Jr.: It’s not mandatory, it is in California, but they’re thinking waterborne paint isn’t going to be mandatory around here until, I think, 2015, but we’re already using it. Kind of a little green aspect, saves the environment a little bit.
Oakdale Patch: Have you ever had any odd requests for paint jobs?
Don Juen Jr.: Yeah, I painted a dune buggy one time. I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen Ranger bass boats with the great big metallic flakes in them. It’s a really high metallic color. So that was kind of a challenge.
Oakdale Patch: Tell me about some of the changes that you’ve made since you took over.
Michelle Juen: The remodel of the lobby. We made that more customer friendly. We’re trying to streamline the operation. I would eventually like to make this place as green as possible. We used to have bottled waters that we’d give out to customers. I got rid of that and got the water filter, and we’d like to move toward paperless, but that’s a huge undertaking.
Oakdale Patch: What are your future plans?
Michelle Juen: Basically trying to get a little greener and getting more involved in the community.
Oakdale Patch: Is there anything you want to add?
Don Juen Jr.: We’re trying to get people more aware of what happens in the event of an accident, so we’ve been trying to think of ways to either hold a class sometime or something like that to make people aware what to do in the event of an accident.
Michelle Juen: Until I met Don, I had no idea what I should have done.
Don Juen Jr.: I want us to be their second call. I can help guide them through the whole process with the insurance companies. I just don’t think a lot of people realize what to do. They say people get into accidents every seven years, so seven years ago I’m not going to remember what I did last time.