Final Finish going strong on Gardner Lane
"Final Finish is about bringing new business and services to Butler County, new things that haven't been done," said Eric Ingram, one of three brothers involved in the company.
Located at 382 Gardner Lane in Morgantown, brothers Eric, 34, Jay, 32, and Chase, 29, are gradually transforming Final Finish from a standard body shop into a multi-service company with reach well beyond Butler County.
The brothers, along with parents and supporters Dennis and Diane Ingram, bought Fields' Body Shop & Wrecker Service in 2006 after David Fields was elected Butler County Judge-Executive. They operated the business from its Brownsville Road location until 2008 when the company relocated to its current location on Gardner Lane and changed its name to Final Finish.
Although all three brothers are involved in the venture, Chase has taken the lead at Final Finish, while Eric works the marketing side of the business, as well as running Ingram Brothers, a local trucking company (flat bed, van, refrigerated, local) started in 2005 that employs 80 to 100 people and runs long haul, regional, and local routes. Jay works part-time in various aspects of the company.
Expansion of services and generating new business contacts have been the brothers' main focus for Final Finish since 2008. Final Finish is a collision repair center, offers 24-hour towing service with AAA affiliation, has custom powder coating, and installs Rhino lining (bed liners for trucks, etc.), among other things.
While these are traditional body shop services, Final Finish has also expanded its business into two additional areas - school bus refurbishing and Class 8 Equipment (Commercial Motor Vehicle) work.
"This is one of our competitive advantages," said Eric Ingram, who sees potential growth in this area of business.
According to Chase Ingram, bus "refurbishing" refers to total inside and out work, which includes updating all safety features and a warrantied paint job.
"We work on buses that may still be on routes but are nearing the end of their service life," said Chase Ingram.
"Since there is no used bus market, refurbishing is necessary to extend the service life of the bus. It also saves money for school districts," said Eric Ingram.
New buses typically run from $90,000 to $110,000, whereas refurbishing, on average, can be as low as $12,000 and extend the service life of a bus up to seven additional years, according to Chase Ingram.
While not a new idea, the brothers say they pushed the concept to state officials and were involved in the process of writing specifications and standards that Kentucky later adopted regarding bus refurbishing.
So far, Final Final finish has worked on 15 buses in five different area school districts: Butler County, Warren County, Metcalfe County, Allen County, and Bowling Green.
Roger McKinney, a retired bus mechanic with the Butler County School District and former Second District Magistrate, works with Final Finish on its bus refurbishing program and gives the final inspection on all outgoing buses.
"As a certified bus mechanic, Roger is the guy you want," said Eric Ingram. "He speaks bus language."
The Ingrams believe their facilities are a valuable asset when it comes to working on larger vehicles.
"We built this place (Final Finish) with commercial motor vehicle work in mind as few have these facilities," said Eric Ingram. "You can drive an 18-wheeler in here."
Final Finish sits on a five acre lot and has approximately 18,000 square feet under roof, including a work bay that measures 16 x 16 x 60 that is used for all big trucks and buses.
In addition, Final Finish has contracts with two companies - Sun Tech and RC Components - that involves custom auto parts and motorcycle parts and accessories.
Though Final Finish continues to grow, it very much remains a family business.
"All big decisions are made as a family,' said Eric Ingram, who added expansion can be challenging. "Our challenge now is managing the growth of our business."
But, the brothers aren't complaining. "We're blessed to have a lot of opportunities," said Eric Ingram.
Final Finish is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Their business phone number is 526-4856.
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Story by John Embry, Beech Tree News/WLBQ 1570 AM