Ian Morton grew up in the collision industry, with his stepfather, grandfather and uncle involved in running body shops. Morton recalls spending time at his grandfather’s facility in Tucson, AZ, at the age of five.
Throughout high school, he worked at the shop, starting as a porter and eventually becoming general manager. “Sometimes, I even slept at the shop, showered and then went to school,” he said. “I just loved it.”
After the business was sold to Morton’s uncle, Morton worked for two large MSOs. In 2018, he learned about an opportunity to purchase Thoroughbred Paint and Body from a family friend. “I was sitting on the beach in Maui and told my wife, ‘I’m going to buy this shop,’” he recalled. “I had no idea how I was going to make it happen, but we did.”
On Jan. 1, 2019, there was an unexpected snowstorm in Tucson with 8 inches of snow. He couldn’t get out of his driveway the following day and was late for his fi rst day of work.
Since purchasing the shop and opening a second location in July 2020—Fix Auto Sierra Vista—Morton has focused on building a culture for his teammates while ensuring vehicles are repaired properly.
This includes keeping up with modern technology, so they can preand post-scan vehicles and meet the OEM requirements from an ADAS and calibration standpoint.
At the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, Morton decided it was a great opportunity to reinvest in his business. “I realized that we might not get another opportunity like this where we can spend time remodeling and upgrading without impacting our workflow or guests,” he said.
He researched new equipment for his facilities. “I knew I wanted a bench and fi xturing systems for repairing today’s modern vehicles,” he said. A fellow market leader at Fix Auto told him about Spanesi and Morton reached out to Tim Morgan, chief operating offi cer (COO) of Spanesi Americas. “We had a 30-minute conversation,” said Morton. “I was so impressed that the COO of a company would take a call after hours and spend time talking to me.”
Morgan fl ew to Tucson to meet Morton and the team. Together, they mapped out how to reorganize
the shops. Meanwhile, Morton talked to other Spanesi owners and received positive feedback about the company and the quality of its products. “It was easy for me at that point to say, ‘I’m in.’” He ordered a Spanesi 106 EXT structural straightening bench along with the Universal System fixturing system and truck kit. He also purchased a Spanesi Touch electronic measuring system, a Q5.2 three torch MIG/MAG welder, a 14,500A automatic resistance spot welder and a Spanesi self-piercing riveter.
“I liked the equipment so much that when I opened my second location in Sierra Vista, we ordered another round of equipment for that store,” he said.
Teammates were excited to receive new, modern equipment and were impressed with the quality and aesthetics. Because space is limited at the Tucson facility, Spanesi offered input in regard to the layout and the most effi cient use of space.
“We ultimately changed the location of the frame bench based on their suggestions,” said Morton. “We found their advice very helpful.” Teammates also appreciated the training provided by Spanesi.
“They took time to work with each technician,” said Morton. “It was great to have that level of interaction, especially because the measuring system was so different from what we were used to.”
Since using Spanesi equipment, Morton has found it has helped with cycle time and repairing vehicles. “It’s providing us the opportunity to ensure we are returning vehicles to our guests in a manner that meets the OEM requirements,” he said.
The Spanesi Touch measuring system has allowed them to be more accurate and productive in damage analysis, structural repair and post-repair inspection processes. “We can take the Spanesi Touch out to a vehicle and do measurements quickly while the customer is waiting,” he said. “It’s efficient once you learn how to use it and has increased our capabilities from a damage analysis standpoint.”
The equipment has also helped identify if there are additional calibrations needed. “In our world, it’s a gameof millimeters and being able to identify damage quickly,” he said.
“If there is a panel that holds an ADAS component, we are able to do comparative measurements to identify if we have movement and need to repair a panel. That has been a game changer.”
Morton has been impressed with the Multibench’s versatility. It can be used as a scissor lift for doing traditional repair work and is low-profi le, lowering to just 1.25 inches; it rises to above 47 inches with a lifting capacity of up to 7,000 lbs. and pulling capacity of up to 10 tons.
“As we look to build and acquire new locations, Spanesi will be involved in providing us with the most technically advanced equipment,” said Morton. “Spanesi and Tim Morgan have been excellent partners.”