In a world where people can end up long distances from where they started, James Junkers could probably walk home for lunch at the home he grew up in. He was raised with two sisters and a brother not far from the LaMettry’s Richfield location. “It’s about 8 or 9 blocks from here. Mom now lives in senior housing nearby. I know this geography like the back of my hand. Kind of comforting, actually,” said Junkers.
A graduate of Richfield High School in 2000, Junkers went looking for a job, and answered a newspaper ad for a full-time detailer at LaMettry’s Richfield. “I was young and in love for the first time in my life, and wanted to buy a home with my girlfriend. Well, you can’t buy a home if you don’t have a job. Looking back, I can’t believe how lucky I was to get on board with LaMettry’s. This is not only a family-owned business, but one where people feel like they are part of one big family.”
LaMettry’s new Richfield General Manager, James Junkers.
Junkers went on to work at the Eden Prairie LaMettry’s from 2003 to 2006, learning parts and production, then returned to the Richfield location in 2006. He became a General Manager in February of this year. He’s astounded by the rate of change in cars and collision repair he’s seen in his 17 years in the business. Junkers is even more convinced about the importance of people working together in an industry driven by procedure and process. “When I started there were a lot of people with decades of collision repair experience, and that was the standard. Today, because the rate of change is so fast in terms of vehicle body construction, materials and technology, things learned just a couple of years ago may have to be essentially ‘unlearned.’ We have to pick up things quickly and learn from each other. If I don’t learn something new during the day, then I wasn’t paying attention. That’s where real teamwork comes in and where great people drive the collision repair process,” he said.
But life is not an ascending straight line for anyone. People have ups and downs, good times and bad. Said Junkers, “I left the company in 2008, but was fortunate to be asked to come back two months later. Thanks to the support and love of my family and this company, I overcame alcohol addiction almost four years ago. My life is changed and new. I can’t even begin to think where I would be today were it not for the care and concern others have had for me. I am very proud of myself for meeting this challenge and so grateful to LaMettry’s and others.”
Those others are mainly family members Junkers tries to spend every moment with when not working. He has a 17-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, and a 7-year-old son, Jamison. His significant other who loves them all, Amber Elfstrom, works for Wells Fargo. “They are the reason I wake up every morning. They stuck with me through the most difficult years of my life, and the least I can do now is be with them whenever and wherever they are,” said Junkers.
The James Junkers household (left to right), James, 7-year-old Jamison, Amber Elfstrom, and 17-year-old Aaliyah.
That includes answering the call to join his daughter in her passion for tap dancing. “Yes, and I think I’m getting to be a better tap dancer every day. I’ll never be as good as Aaliyah, but she’s a great teacher,” said Junkers. With son Jamison, Junkers drives to hockey practice and baseball fields all around their hometown of Shakopee.
Summertime means visits to a family cabin near Danbury, Wisconsin. “We’ve been going to my sister’s cabin in Wisconsin for the past 13 or 14 summers. We get away from screen time and get outside and unhooked from the digital world.”
When Chris Engman attended jet mechanic school in Texas, and then worked on Navy jets stationed at the Boca Chica Naval Air Station in Key West, Florida, he pondered his life’s career path. Said Engman, “I thought for sure I would return home and work for Northwest Airlines. I never imagined Northwest Airlines would disappear, or that I would land a job I love with a great company like LaMettry’s for 21 years and counting. More proof I guess, that you can make plans for life, but life has plans for you.”
The Engman family: Natalie, 15, LaVonne, Chris, and Kyle, 18.
It all started falling into place when the 1991 Eden Prairie High School grad finished his U.S. Navy stint, and returned home in 1994. “I got a job as a mechanic at a local shop, busting my knuckles during the day, and playing in a dart league at night with a friend, Steve Daniel. Steve said I should apply for an entry-level position where he worked, LaMettry’s. I did, and got my foot in the door.”
And that was all Engman needed, working his way up with various positions at the Burnsville and Eden Prairie LaMettry’s locations. As manufacturers and dealers required higher levels of certifications and personalized service, Engman became the first dedicated LaMettry’s dealer representative for Feldmann Imports Mercedes-Benz. Said Engman, “I discovered how much I enjoyed being the ‘go-to guy,’ working directly with the dealer and their customers, and then as a liaison for our techs. It’s so rewarding to personally know the people you help.” So when the Audi Minneapolis and Porsche Minneapolis dealerships needed similar help, Engman got the call to work at both locations.
Chris Engman is stationed at Audi Minneapolis and Porsche Minneapolis to help provide top-flight, in-person customer service.
On a busy day, he might be working on the needs of ten different customers and their vehicles. “First, there are the daily items that come up. Even simple work today has more complexity in terms of parts and repair process. I try to do the best job possible explaining to the customer in language they can understand, what needs to be done, how we’ll do it, and how long it takes. We still have customers ask if the collision ‘bent’ the car’s frame. And I explain, ‘Well, your car doesn’t really have a frame. Almost all cars made today have a unibody.’ Second, there’s vehicle logistics, or safely moving vehicles to and from the dealership to our facilities, and working with techs to make sure things go smoothly. And third, if the customer needs a miracle, well, we try to make that happen, too. I recently had a customer tell me they wanted their tow hitch to match the vehicle’s color so it didn’t stand out. It took quite a while, but we got it done.”
Twenty years ago, Chris Engman’s mother set him up on a blind date. It proved historic. Mrs. Chris Engman, aka LaVonne Hanson Engman, is a Senior IT Business Analyst at MoneyGram. The couple are readying two teenagers to launch off into the world, Natalie, 15, a sophomore at St. Michael High School, and Kyle, 18, a senior also at St. Michael. “Life moves very quickly with two teens in the house. They’re both involved in sports so there’s a lot of time driving to school and games.”
Chris Engman and son Kyle are big sports fans, here at a Minnesota Wild game.
The Engman’s have some built in “quality time” devices for their family. “We’ve been Viking season ticket holders for 15 years, so that and other local sporting events are a great way to get away from routines and enjoy time together. Every summer in July, we rent the same cabin at Pine Ridge Resort on Girl Lake near Longville, MN. We all anticipate that.” But their daily dose of family bonding comes from their two prized pets, Chloe, a 10-year-old poodle mix, and Bailey, an 8-year-old golden retriever. “There’s nothing like a couple of warm and furry friends to make a house a home.”
The Engman’s cherished pets, Chloe, a 10-year-old poodle mix, and Bailey, an 8-year-old golden.
Happy New Year! Here’s a look back on our top stories of 2016:
LaMettry’s Wins, and So Do Automotive Students at the AASP-MN Race for Education
LaMettry’s Launches Bodyshop Revolution: Q&A with Darrell Amberson
LaMettry’s Hosts Advanced Vehicle Technologies Seminar for Insurance Personnel
Cars for Neighbors
LaMettry’s Participates in Summer Charity Golf Events
LaMettry’s Announces 9th Location in Chanhassen
SMASH Car at Lakeville North High School
Continuing Ed for Insurance Agents with Speed Volunteering
Toys for Tots Twin Cities 2016 was a Success!
As part of our company vision of “Leading the Automotive Repair Industry,” we have a focus on Automotive Manufacturer (OEM) Certifications. In fact, we have the most Manufacturer Certified programs in the Twin Cities Market. And we are currently working on a few more!
What this means for you is that we are experts on your vehicle. Manufacturer Certifications usually require training, specialized tools and equipment, and the proper facility to ensure that the vehicle is repaired to manufacturer specifications. Automobiles are getting increasingly complicated, but you can be confident that we know exactly how to fix your vehicle.
Our current Manufacturer Certifications and Recognition include:
Audi Authorized Collision Repair Facility
Cadillac Aluminum Repair Network Facility
FCA Recognized Collision Repair Facility – Fiat Chrysler
Ford National Body Shop Network
ProFirst Collision Repair Facility – Certified by American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
Hyundai Recognized Collision Repair Center
Infiniti Certified Collision Repair Network
Lexus Approved Collision Center
MOPAR Recognized Certified Collision Repair Facility – Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, Fiat
Nissan Certified Collision Repair Network
Volkswagen – VW
The 2016 Twins Cities Toys for Tots campaign was a success! All 8 LaMettry’s shops were drop-off locations. Thank you to everyone who donated! Our collection boxes were overflowing! We live in a wonderful community.
According to the Marine Toys for Tots Twin Cities, the 2016 Campaign distributed 248,739 gifts to 163,271 children, with an average of 1.52 toy(s) per child.
Lots of fun toys collected at LaMettry’s Collision Inver Grove Heights
Overflowing boxes of toys collected at LaMettry’s Collision Eden Prairie
Toys collected at LaMettry’s Collision Burnsville
Chris Nordquist from LaMettry’s drops off the rest of the toys at the Toys for Tots Warehouse in St. Paul
Construction continues on our 9th location at 1651 Motorplex Court in Chanhassen, MN. Windows were delivered last week to be installed this week. It won’t be long now! We have plans to open in the first quarter of 2017.
Empathy is often defined as a person’s ability to recognize and share the emotions of another person. And that’s how Valisity LaMettry approaches life each day saying, “I imagine myself as others, and more than that, I imagine myself in their situation, and that starts with at least some knowledge of who people are.” That empathy makes the 39-year-old well-suited in her role of Customer Service Trainer at LaMettry’s Collision, as well as being a wife, and mother of two active and growing boys.
The Valisity and J.R. LaMettry family. (Clockwise) Valisity, Jackson, age 10, J.R., and Mason, age 7.
Perhaps it all started with her unique first name. “My Dad loved the names Felicity and Charity. So they named my sister Charidy, and changed letters in Felicity to come up with Valisity. It was a challenge as a teen and led to a lot of nicknames, but as an adult, it’s a source of pride and compliments.” So much so, that Valisity LaMettry only allows a very short list of people in her life to call her “Val.” Born in the Twin Cities, she spent the first 10 years of her life in Oklahoma as her family cared for a grandparent suffering from ALS. “While I was too young to understand much, I think those years deepened a sense of ‘others’ in my being.”
Valisity with her Dad, Terry Haigler.
She graduated from Apple Valley High School where she created life-long friendships, then spent the following years in a variety of jobs, often two at a time, but all the positions involved serving others. “Whether I was waitressing, bartending, or in a salon, I always engaged with my customers. I wanted to hear their stories and understand their lives.”
In 2003, she joined LaMettry’s Richfield location as a Customer Service Representative, eventually working with J.R. (Justin Richard) LaMettry. “We got along famously, and I thought he would be a great match for my roommate at the time, so I set them up on a date. Well, they never made that date, but J.R. and I got to know each other much better.” And the rest is LaMettry family history. Valisity Wood and J.R. LaMettry were married in July 2006. In the process, Valisity also gained the “world’s greatest mother-in-law.” Said Valisity, “Besides my own mother, Joanne LaMettry is one of the most amazing women I know. Both inspire me tremendously.”
Valisity Wood LaMettry with her mom and siblings. (From left to right) Valisity, her mother Deb Hanson, sister Dana Beyer, sister Charidy Wood, and brother James Wood.
Valisity needs to run on inspiration in her role as Customer Service Trainer because the job really has no formal playbook. When the task of creating and opening the LaMettry’s Customer Call Center was thrown to her, she had to self-guide the process by researching other operations, visiting call centers, and establishing a game plan for the company.
Doing customer service training for LaMettry’s employees at 8 locations across the Twin Cities, she starts by creating empathy with those she works with. “I travel to and spend time at each location, observing, listening, and talking with LaMettry’s people who are on the front lines with customers. I try to coach them to think what it’s like if they just had a car accident or suffered damage. To slow down and tune into people. If the process starts there, everyone is happy with the results,” said Valisity.
At home, she tunes into the lives of two very active and bubbly young boys. “Jackson is in 5th grade, and he’s almost as big as me, and his feet are bigger than mine, so he may become a double to his Dad, but looks like me. Mason is in 2nd grade, and talks like me, and acts like me, so he may be my mini-me, but looks like his Dad,” said Valisity. Both boys are in Tae Kwon Do, while Jackson loves football and basketball, and Mason plays hockey and flag-football. “They keep us moving, like all parents with youngsters in school and sports. J.R. and I drive to fields and arenas day and night, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Jackson LaMettry will be 11-years-old this December.
Mason LaMettry will be 8-years-old in January.
Recently we hosted a Continuing Education (CE) class for insurance agents on Ethics and Pay As You Drive Insurance. This class was sponsored by LaMettry’s Collision along with Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Ungerman Restoration.
At the full day class, agents learned about ethics in our modern world, as well as the pros and cons of utilizing the pay as you drive technology feature and the impact it may have on drivers and insurance companies.
Before lunch, there was a speed volunteering exercise for Children’s Dental Services and the United Way. At their tables, the agents worked together to assemble Kid’s Dental Kits which were then donated to Children’s Dental Services (CDS).
According to the speed volunteering flyer, “Children’s Dental Service is the only community dental services agency in Minnesota dedicated exclusively to providing oral health outreach, education, and treatment to children and pregnant women across the state. CDS targets kids who are not being served and brings dental care directly to them in the school, where they are comforted by familiar surroundings.”
For this annual homecoming week event, Lakeville North High School students take turns smashing a car with a sledgehammer over their lunch break. They pay $1 for approximately one minute to inflict as much damage upon the vehicle as they can. The DECA program is donating the money raised this year to Lakeville area food shelves. LaMettry’s Collision worked together with Allen’s Towing to provide the car, make it safe for the smash, and get it to the school.
Before the event started, the DECA students had fun spray painting the car. Then it was game on. Check out the before and after! Wow!
Watch our facebook video of one of the teachers taking a swing at the car.
These two were determined to get the rear bumper off.
And they did!
This is definitely an event students look forward to every year!
Thank you to Lakeville North High School DECA for including us again! We are always happy to help!
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.