Gina Jacques wears many hats, and loves to help people in her Sales/Marketing/Office Support role at LaMettry’s New Brighton, Minnesota location. Along with her sales duties, she also fills in when needed at customer service, production assistant, and staff training. “I feel like I’ve really found my calling in life, and a place that respects and rewards my desire to work hard,” said Jacques.
Gina and husband, Bob Jacques.
It would be an understatement to say it wasn’t easy for this 37-year-old wife and mother to get to this point in her life. “I grew up in the Frogtown area of St. Paul. I was raised by my Mom, Cindy Shortridge, and my step-dad, Lee Shortridge. He spent his summers on the golf course when he wasn’t working. Mom was always working at least two jobs and my grandmother cared for us. My brother, Charlie, and me would shovel St. Paul neighborhood walks and driveways in the winter, and mow lawns with a push mower in the summer to earn money. I taught myself to focus on the goodness of the present moment. Maybe that’s why I enjoy being busy, meeting and helping people so much,” said Jacques. She also took great comfort in soaking up the wisdom of her neighborhood elders. “I listened to their stories for hours. I understood early on to accept the bad and good. It’s why friends always hear me say, ‘It is what it is.’ ”
Gina’s mom Cindy Shortridge, and Gina at her wedding.
After graduating from Roseville High School, Gina went into sales for Comcast Cable for two years. Of that position she said, “It wasn’t so much sales as in helping people, but sales as in just getting orders, but it was great experience.” When her daughter Alexis was born, she stayed home and did cleaning to help pay bills. Eventually, she took a job with a national collision franchise and started working her way up the industry ladder. For 13 years, she did everything she could to prove herself worthy, including many ten hour days and six day weeks that meant missed family events and dinners. All the while, unbeknownst to her, she was building her reputation in the business. “I knew I couldn’t sustain the stress my work was creating at home. Then a couple of vendors said I should talk to LaMettry’s. So, I picked up the phone and one thing lead to another, and here I am.”
In her Sales and Marketing and Customer Service position at LaMettry’s New Brighton, Gina Jacques does what she always does. Part of “my job is to find the people and companies who need our help and then create a valued business relationship based on their satisfaction. And that’s really the LaMettry’s difference and why I am so grateful to the LaMettry family and leadership team to be here. There are plenty of places to get vehicles repaired, but I know LaMettry’s is the only one focused completely on the customer from start to finish. There’s never a doubt about that, with our dealer-partners, agents, suppliers, or individual customers,” she said.
Back on the home front, life never slows down. Her husband, Bob Jacques, works for Vinyl Art in Plymouth, Minnesota. They started dating in 1996, but didn’t get married until 2008. Gina explained, “I wanted to wait until we could afford a wedding. I think that’s when Bob knew I was the one for him.” The Jacques 18-year-old daughter, Alexis, recently joined the U.S. Navy and is in basic training in Illinois.
(Left to right) Jessica Votel, Gina’s daughter Alexis Jacques, and General Joseph L. Votel, Commander of United States Central Command, a St. Paul native and family friend.
Their son, 12-year-old Dylan, loves to be outside. Gina said, “I want him to grow up independent. In the summer, he hops on his bike in the morning and is off for the day fishing or playing football.”
Gina’s 12 year-old son, Dylan Jacques.
Gina also loves to be outdoors with her family whether hiking or biking. “On the weekends, I bike 15-20 miles of trails winding through Coon Rapids, Maple Grove, and Osseo. Biking is great exercise and keeps me busy, but what I love most is being busy with others where I can make a difference in their lives.”
Gina and Bob Jacques on a Lake Superior North Shore hike.
Coming Soon: LaMettry’s 9th Location
Work has begun on the 9th location for LaMettry’s Collision & Glass. #9 will be located in Chanhassen, MN off of Audubon Road, and right by the AutoMotorPlex.
They broke ground in June, and now the walls are starting to go up. Our anticipated opening date is this winter. Check back for updates!
Future site of LaMettry’s Collision in Chanhassen by the AutoMotorPlex
Groundbreaking for LaMettry’s 9th location.
The walls are going up for LaMettry’s Collision 9th location which will be in Chanhassen, MN
LaMettry’s Collision is proud to sponsor and participate in many local Twin Cities charity golf events.
Some of the events we participated in this year included
- Children’s Hospitals Golf Benefit Audi Quattro Cup at the White Bear Yacht Club in Dellwood
LaMettry’s sponsored the lunch and sent golfers to this event.
Our golfers included (from left to right) Justin LaMettry (Vice President), Eric Johnson (Eden Prairie GM), Randy LaMettry (Vice President), and John Rutz (PDR Manager).
- BMW of Minnetonka 2nd Annual Drive Away Lyme Disease Golf Tournament at Midland Hills Country Club
LaMettry’s sponsored a hole and sent golfers to this second annual event.
- Enterprise Rent-A-Car Golf Tournament at The Links at Northfork benefiting the Greater Twin Cities United Way
LaMettry’s sponsored a hole and sent golfers to this annual event.
- 22nd Annual Alliance of Automotive Service Providers-Minnesota (AASP-MN) Golf Outing at Keller Golf Course in Maplewood
LaMettry’s sent golfers to this event where money was raised for Minnesota Careers in Auto Repair & Service. Our team even won first place!
Left to right: Eric Johnson (Eden Prairie GM), Justin LaMettry (Vice President), John Rutz (PDR Manager), and Mike Ballou (Richfield GM)
There’s been more than a few times when 46-year-old Denise Koukal (last name rhymes with “local”) wakes up in her suburban Woodbury home and almost has to pinch herself to make sure she’s not dreaming. “I never imagined as a girl born in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, and as a kid on a farm in the Red River Valley, that I would have this self-taught career path. But, my grandparents and parents always encouraged hard work. I am fortunate and grateful to work for Joanne LaMettry and LaMettry’s Collision where that is rewarded,” said Koukal.
Denise Koukal at LaMettry’s Richfield location.
Today, Denise Koukal is the Chief Information Officer for one of the nation’s largest and most respected family-owned automotive collision repair enterprises. She’s also a happily married mother of two boys, but more on that later.
Denise Koukal with son, Jared, and father, Orlin, on the farm near Rothsay, Minnesota in the 1990s.
Denise Hovland Koukal remembers with great fondness her childhood and early adolescent days on her grandparent’s, and then father’s farm, near Rothsay, Minnesota just south of Fargo-Moorhead. “Those were great memories to be with my family in that beautiful, wide open farm country. Riding on the tractors and combines. Everyone worked hard. My dad, Orlin Hovland, took over the family farm and still kept his job as a lab manager in Fergus Falls, while Mom also maintained two jobs. I guess a work ethic is both caught and taught,” said Koukal. In the early 1980s, she and her mother, Connie, and younger sister, Michele, moved to the Twin Cities suburb of Bloomington. “This was the ‘big city’ for me. Sort of traumatizing for a girl from farm country. But we three stuck together. And still today, my mom and sister are my best friends.” Denise became a full-fledged Bloomington Kennedy Eagles High School teen. “After high school, I went to cosmetology school, but also really wanted to finish my formal education, and I needed to work, too.” She enrolled at Normandale Community College and took a part time job at LaMettry’s Eden Prairie as a Customer Service Rep in 1992.
A family collage of Denise, her sister Michele, and Mom
Now, 24 years later, with an ascending resume of job titles within LaMettry’s, she’s part of a corporate leadership team and is guiding employees at 8 locations through the dozens of software platforms keeping all the technical and administrative processes moving. Said Koukal, “When I started here, almost everything was on paper. Now everything is on a screen. Most of my focus is on our industry-based estimating and management software. But because all our OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) certifications are so critical to our success, that’s another major focus.”
She always applies the LaMettry’s principles and vision statement to her decisions. “It is so easy to get bullied by technology. You have to keep asking, ‘How does this serve the customer? How does this help our employees do a better job?’ My role is to make sure the technology works for us, not the other way around. My real value is helping our people use the technology, working alongside our talented employees, and making sure our customers receive exceptional service.”
Denise and Robb Koukal
Denise met her husband, Robb Koukal, in 1991. “Robb grew up on Grey Cloud Island. It’s like a tiny town tucked away in the big city near Cottage Grove.” They have two sons, Jared, age 20, and Jakob, age 16. “Robb works for Northland Concrete, Jared works full time, and Jakob keeps us super busy with his lacrosse team.” On summer weekends, you can find the Koukal family camping at places like Lake Byllesby near Cannon Falls, the Veterans Campground at Marine on St. Croix, and many state parks. “We started as tent campers, and graduated to a trailer. It’s great family time, really back to the basics.”
Sons, Jakob (left), Jared (right)
Great soccer coaches know most goals are scored, not just by the last player to touch the ball, but by all the players who help set up the shot. And as a former college soccer player and high school coach, LaMettry’s Maplewood General Manager, Eli Padilla, couldn’t agree more. “When the job calls for people to work together, whether it’s soccer or collision repair, the beauty is in the team work.”
Some of Eli Padilla’s LaMettry’s Maplewood Team: Standing, left to right: Kari Rieger, Dave Miller, Eli Padilla, Russ Wyganowski, Elaine Sanders. Kneeling left to right, John Friedmeyer and Andy Tihanyi.
The 39-year-old came from diverse south Minneapolis roots. “My great grandfather was from Mexico, and my great grandmother was Norwegian. Dad is an artist in St. Paul and Mom loves to garden, and stills lives in the home where I was raised on 44th and Pleasant Avenue. My older sister is a college professor in California.” Padilla went to Minneapolis South High School, and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a major in English Literature and a minor in Spanish. “I played soccer for the Gophers, and got a chance to travel all over the country. Even played a summer in Mexico,” said Padilla. To pay back student loans, he began coaching high school soccer and basketball at the International School of Minnesota. “That’s where I met and coached Randy and J.R. LaMettry. We became good friends, and I got to know more about their family and their business. I took an entry-level job 11 years ago, became General Manager of the Richfield location four years ago, and GM of Maplewood two years ago.”
Padilla is the first to admit he is not what most people call a “car guy.” Saying, “Don’t get me wrong, this is the vehicle repair business. I try to personally inspect each and every vehicle that comes through our door. That keeps me in touch with our techs and what’s happening across all makes and models. Every day on the shop floor is a continuing education for me. I have great respect for our people who do the actual work, but I didn’t grow up tinkering and rebuilding cars. I am a ‘people guy’ first.” Padilla tells his team they’re not in the collision business serving people, but in the people business providing collision repair. “The LaMettry’s philosophy has always been to focus on the customer first, and that’s why I love working here.”
Eli and Ivonne Padilla on their 12 year “overdue honeymoon” in Tulum, Mexico last winter.
On a trip to Mazatlán, Mexico 12 years ago, Eli met and later married Ivonne Gallardo. Ivonne works for the Columbia Heights School District, where their children, Douglas Jose, age 10, and Lilliana, soon to be age 7, attend school. The Padillas recently became legal guardians for Ecuadorian born, 18-year-old Jefferson Padilla. “Ivonne and I felt we had room in our family, our home and in our hearts for Jefferson.” The couple also finally celebrated a “long overdue” honeymoon trip last winter, traveling to the ancient Aztec city of Tulum, Mexico.
The Padilla family: Jefferson, 18, Douglas Jose, 10 and Lilliana, soon to be 7.
When he joined LaMettry’s 11 years ago, Eli was not an outdoorsman. Today, the outdoors is his primary pastime. “I got invited on deer hunting trips with others from LaMettry’s and it just got into my system. We now have a cabin in Pine County, about an hour and half away from our home in Blaine. There I can turn off my phone and immerse myself into the natural world. It’s like I am on a different planet from the everyday world. I’ve not only had some great hunting trips, but I’ve had some of the best naps of my lifetime leaning against a tree.”
Eli Padilla and trusted hunting companion, Duke.
To the untrained eye, it might look like just another way to make collision repairs. But to industry professionals, Bodyshop Revolution’s technology, equipment, and process is revolutionary. And the man who knows this the most is LaMettry’s VP of Operations Darrell Amberson, one of the industry’s most experienced and respected professionals, and past chairman of the Automotive Service Association (ASA) board of directors.
VP of Operations, Darrell Amberson with the mobile Bodyshop Revolution equipment at LaMettry’s Eden Prairie location.
Q: How would you briefly describe Bodyshop Revolution?
A: Bodyshop Revolution is both a theoretical and operational approach to increasing collision repair quality and reducing cost.
Q: What’s the theory?
A: In any repair, the variable cost is really time. We call it cycle time. The time it takes from starting to finishing a job. Bodyshop Revolution starts with what it calls the “Theory of Constraint.” That is pinpointing those parts of the process that create slowdowns. That can be anything, from workshop design, parts procurement, staff capability, customer contracts, workflow and repair processes. So it really challenges your thinking process to improve or remove anything that can create an unnecessary logjam. And I think, looking back as we started working on this, that was the toughest part. You think you’ve thought through everything already, but you have to really take a hard, hard look at how your can improve your process first, and only then deploy the equipment.
The Bodyshop Revolution booth at LaMettry’s Eden Prairie location.
Q: How is the equipment different?
A: In at least three ways. First, Bodyshop Revolution has modern drying technology that allows one operator to apply coats of filler and primer, with a rapid drying technology. LaMettry’s has both a mobile drying unit and a booth drying unit. For collision shops, nothing really compares with the speed, cost, efficiency and finish achieved by booth robotics. Second, because of the process and equipment efficiency, a shop can really get more production out of a smaller space, saving square footage costs. Third, the drying unit utilizes gas catalytic technology. Without getting too scientific here, it is a heated chemical reaction that turns methane gas into infrared energy that speeds up drying and curing of both paint and filler. That can reduce job energy costs by 50 to 70 percent.
In the dark, it’s easier to see the chemical reaction that turns methane gas into infrared energy.
Q: What kind of investment does this require?
A: The investment is both time and money. We spent a lot of time researching Bodyshop Revolution as a company and process, including sending people to company headquarters in the U. K. and Europe. LaMettry’s was one of the first five companies in the U.S. to partner with Bodyshop Revolution. It was a sizable investment in future technology, and a green initiative to reduce our natural gas and electricity consumption.
Q: Bottom line, how does all this benefit your customer, the vehicle owner, and your insurance partners?
A: The customer’s primary concern is the best quality repair and getting their vehicle back to drive as soon as possible. This accomplishes both. Bodyshop Revolution repair history shows some of the best results in terms of quality repair, which has to do with overall look, finish and durability. And yes, we can cut substantial time the customer is without their vehicle. Every repair is different so it’s hard to give a specific amount of time saved, but we believe it is anywhere from 20 to 30%.
In terms of our insurance partners they advocate for anything that reduces cost and improves customer satisfaction, both in terms of turnaround time and repair quality. Our insurance partners look to companies like LaMettry’s to be leaders in the industry.
Making any major investment like this, both for capital equipment, training and resources is a bet. But we believe this is where the collision repair business is going and LaMettry’s wants to be there.
LaMettry’s sponsored 2 teams at the annual Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of Minnesota (AASP-MN) Race for Automotive Education. This event raised money for scholarships for students in the automotive field. One of our teams even won first place!
At home with the Faidleys, David and Colette, in their Richfield home, with a baby boy due in May 2016.
Search online for the term “quick study” and you find: “one that can speedily learn the essentials of something to be done.” David Faidley, LaMettry’s New Brighton location General Manager, could be a footnote to that page. “I’m not impatient, but once I understand the most important stuff, I’m on to the next thing,” says Faidley, a 32 year-old native of Chanhassen, Minnesota. He graduated from Chaska High School in 2001, and headed to Grand Forks and the University of North Dakota. “I did well in all my core courses the first two years, got the basics quickly, but wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do from there. I wasn’t comfortable spending a lot of money just spending two more years trying to find out.” So Faidley headed back home and happened to connect with boyhood friend, Randy LaMettry, who referred him to an entry-level opening as a detailer at LaMettry’s Eden Prairie. Said Faidley, “I’m not your typical car-guy who knows and loves all the features of various makes and model years. I like this business because each make, model and repair situation is a learning experience that really fascinates me.”
That learning style has paid off for Faidley. He moved up the LaMettry’s ladder quickly in Eden Prairie, briefly moved to the Lakeville location, and jumped at the chance to become New Brighton General Manager in July 2014. “I think of LaMettry’s as a university of collision repair. If a person works hard, learns quickly, and earns a reputation as someone committed to the business, you can graduate to new opportunities.”
The opportunity to manage the New Brighton location is almost entrepreneurial for Faidley. “First, this is one of the newest locations, so we’re still in the business of building our referral network. LaMettry’s has always had a great reputation in the collision repair industry, but we need to really promote ourselves here and increase our volume. Second, our partnership location with New Brighton Ford is a terrific gateway into the aluminum body segment with the new Ford F-150.”
In 2015, Ford created the first aluminum body pickup truck and LaMettry’s New Brighton became one of the first Ford Certified Repair facilities in the Twin Cities area. Said Faidley, “Because the vehicle is so new, we’re just starting to see body repairs come in. We did get a new F-150 last summer that suffered hail damage from bumper to bumper. It was a textbook case. We got to use all of our expertise.” That expertise is substantial. “Ford is very exacting in terms of on-site facility requirements and process, but Ford also knows there will be a learning curve, so there’s a lot of support both real-time and on-line. But that’s where LaMettry’s shines. The company is willing to make the investment in the people and process.”
Left to right: Colette Faidley, Dave Faidley and David’s sister, Kristen.
David Faidley expects to start another learning curve by entering fatherhood with his first child, a boy due in May 2016. Faidley and his wife, 30 year-old Colette Benton Faidley, are getting their home ready while she continues to work. “Colette attended Metro State University and is a very accomplished hair stylist. Now she enjoys helping others complete their education as an Academic Advisor at National American University.” According to David, “She grew up in Mankato. We bumped into each other at a music festival, started dating a while later, and that was all it took. We got married September 2014. We didn’t want a big wedding, so we made it official with a small group of family at the Hennepin County Courthouse near Ridgedale in Minnetonka. And then in February 2015, we did a more formal destination wedding event at Playa Del Carmen in Mexico with a small group of friends and family. It was an awesome time and a great memory.”
David and Colette Faidley on the beach at their destination wedding in Mexico, February 2015.
David and Colette Faidley are settling in to their Richfield home that’s not far from several other friends who also work for LaMettry’s. “I’ve really taken to the kitchen and cooking. Things like soups, chili and crockpots. Makes it feel like a real home on a cold winter day.”
We had a huge outpouring of donated toys from our customers, employees, vendors and friends at all 8 LaMettry’s Collision locations. All toys went to the Marine Toys for Tots campaign for Twin Cities children in need. The Marines stopped by multiple times throughout the campaign to pick up toys as our boxes were full!
Thank you to everyone who contributed!
The box at LaMettry’s Collision Eden Prairie was overflowing with fun toys!
At LaMettry’s Collision Burnsville, the front office collected money from the staff and then bought these toys to add to the box
The LaMettry’s Collision Burnsville box before (left) and after (right) the employee purchased toys were added
A full box at LaMettry’s Collision Richfield
LaMettry’s Collision Lakeville had a very generous customer and his brother donate a bunch of toys. They donate to Toys for Tots every year. We were honored to be their drop off site this year!
Another full box of toys at LaMettry’s Collision Lakeville.
And yet another full box at LaMettry’s Collision Lakeville!
One last van full of toys dropped off at the Toys for Tots warehouse.
Chris Nordquist dropped off the last of our toys just before Christmas. It was a van full!
Vehicle donated by American Family Insurance and repaired by LaMettry’s Collision
Willie B Pargo received a repaired 2012 Chevrolet Malibu from LaMettry’s Collision and American Family as part of NABC’s Recycled Rides program.
Inver Grove Heights, MN, December 9, 2015 – Ever since his car broke down over the summer and couldn’t be repaired, Recycled Rides recipient Willie B Pargo had been taking the bus over an hour each way to continue his volunteer work at the Minneapolis VA. Now he has a reliable vehicle thanks to LaMettry’s Collision, American Family Insurance, NABC’s Recycled Rides program, and local vendor partners.
The military and volunteer service of Willie B Pargo was recognized at the Recycled Rides event on “Give Tuesday,” when he was presented the keys to a 2012 Chevrolet Malibu by LaMettry’s Vice President JR LaMettry.
LaMettry’s Collision Vice President JR LaMettry gives Willie B Pargo the keys to his new car.
Speakers at the event included LaMettry’s President of Operations Darrell Amberson, Chairman of the Board of Directors for the River Heights Chamber of Commerce Kelton Glewwe, and Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie. Sheriff Leslie reminded everyone, “This is give Tuesday, [but] we can do something every day to help our veterans. Say ‘thank you’ to them, donate, fly the flag, visit a VA hospital or home, and when you talk to them, ask how they are doing and stop to listen.”
Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie speaks at the Recycled Rides event.
Last to speak at the ceremony was someone who knows Willie well, Commander Glenn Boche of The Military Order of the Purple Heart Minnesota Department. He shared some background on the Purple Heart award with the crowd. “Willie and I are both Vietnam Veterans. Willie and I are the survivors. The Purple Heart is not an award that anyone that joins the service wants to achieve, for obvious reasons, because there are only two categories of people that get this award; those that are wounded and survive, which Willie and I were very lucky to, and those that were killed.”
Commander Glenn Boche of The Military Order of the Purple Heart Minnesota Department speaks at the Recycled Rides event.
Boche concluded, “I’ve known Willie for at least 4 or 5 years as a volunteer myself out at the VA Hospital. I can’t think of a more deserving person. He is out there at the VA hospital every day of the week, Monday through Friday, doing his thing out there. Sometimes he’s hard to catch up to because he’s moving so fast. Thank you Willie for what you’ve done, thank you for your service, thank you for all you do out at the hospital!”
This is the 6th vehicle LaMettry’s has repaired and donated through the NABC’s Recycled Rides Program.
LaMettry’s Collision team with Recycled Rides recipient Willie B Pargo (center).
From left to right: Ann Bruce (Sales), Chris Nordquist (Sales), Justin LaMettry (Vice President), Recycled Rides recipient Willie B Pargo, Darrell Amberson (President of Operations), Stefany Lorang (Creative Director), Laurie Kaiser (CMO)
THANK YOU to everyone who contributed including:
– aaa Auto Parts
– American Family Insurance
– Choice Auto Rental
– Enterprise rent-a-car
– EP Auto Detail
– IAA (Insurance Auto Auctions)
– Inver Grove Ford
– Keystone / LKQ Corp
– Park Chrysler Jeep
– Suburban Chevrolet
Our generous event sponsors