Carlsbad, CA, October 2, 2018 – NOTE: This June SPS profile was originally published in print in June 2018 and online in May 2018.
When Mark Mortensen opened Action Auto Body South in 2008, the body shop owner didn’t hesitate when choosing a name.
Prior to establishing his own business in Hamilton, MT, Mortensen worked for another body shop for 14 years in Missoula with the same name—Action Auto Body. The collision repair facility, owned by Darr Riggert, had just opened when Mortensen was hired. With a background in body work and a passion for old cars, Mortensen helped Riggert build the shop from the ground up.
Before using Norton's VAC RACK, we had sanders without the dust collection, so dust would collect on the floor and form a cloud around the technicians while they were sanding. VAC RACK sucks up the dust really well and is simple to use.
Owner, Action Auto Body South
“He knew the paint end of it and I knew the body end, so we worked in conjunction with each other,” said Mortensen.
Over the years, he learned about the business side of things, which included how to effectively talk to customers, write estimates and the ins and outs of running the front office.
“Darr really helped me make the final decision to open my own body shop and use the same name,” said Mortensen.
Since then, Mortensen has run Action Auto Body South in the small town of Hamilton with the assistance of three full-time employees; his wife, Marianne, who helps with bookkeeping; and one part-time high school apprentice. He takes pride in operating his shop with top-of-the-line products he can depend on, such as the ones from Norton|Saint-Gobain.
Norton|Saint-Gobain, based in Worcester, MA, is a leader in abrasive and non-abrasive products for grinding, cutting, blending, finishing and polishing products for a wide array of markets, materials and applications. The company has delivered abrasive solutions for more than 130 years and has a strong presence in communities across the United States and Canada. This has enabled its customers to shape and surface-finish all types of materials, even in the most complex and challenging applications.
Mortensen first learned about Norton|Saint-Gobain products in high school while working at a local body shop for six years, and has continued using them throughout his career. When he opened Action Auto Body South, Norton|Saint-Gobain representative Grady Howard helped Mortensen purchase cabinets and other needed items to set up his business and get organized.
The shop now purchases a wide variety of Norton|Saint-Gobain products from its distributor, National Coatings and Supplies (NCS), including sandpaper, adhesives for glue panels, tape, masking paper, seamsealer and Norton|Saint-Gobain’s buffing system for polishing cars.
Mortensen said the employees have been very happy with the training they have received on the company’s adhesive line of products, as well as the support from Norton|Saint-Gobain.
“I’ve been really pleased with the quality, said Mortensen. “What I like most is the economical pricing of the products. We’ve found that they cost half the price of similar products on the market, and last just as long in my opinion.”
Recently, Action Auto Body began using the Norton VAC RACK™, a new customizable, truly portable vacuum system introduced to the market in the spring of 2018 by Norton|Saint -Gobain.
“It’s a really good product,” Mortensen said.
The portable vacuum unit can be easily moved throughout the shop and runs two dual action sanders in addition to a manual setting to block sand. The system features a wet indicator to help prevent potential unit and tool damage and an automatic filter cleaning system for the ultimate dust removal—all in an extremely quiet and powerful system.
“Before using Norton’s VAC RACK, we had sanders without the dust collection, so dust would collect on the floor and form a cloud around the technicians while they were sanding,” said Mortensen. “VAC RACK sucks up the dust really well and is simple to use.”
After using the product over the last several months, he has found that it keeps the shop cleaner overall, which is safer for employees. Being safe and environmentally responsible are important focuses for the body shop, which uses Axalta Coatings Spies Hecker water-based paint line.
Looking forward, Action Auto Body South plans to keep its business growing.
“That’s always the main goal—to keep growing,” said Mortensen. “It’s a struggle when you’re in rural Montana working in a limited geographical area.”
He does this by staying current with industry information and training, attending tradeshows and using dependable products, such as the ones from Norton|Saint-Gobain.
Action Auto Body South
Location: Hamilton, MT
Company At A Glance…
Type: Collision Repair
Facility Employees: Six
In Business Since: 2008
Number of Locations: One
Combined Production Space: 6,700 square feet
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Source: Autobody News
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