Fantasyland came to Sonoma County this week when 27 kids with less than Disney-esque family stories dressed as princesses, Jedi masters, Little Mermaids, pirates and the like boarded a bus for the happiest place on Earth.
Many of the children had never been to the Magic Kingdom in Anaheim before. And some are so accustomed to adults’ unkept promises that until the coach pulled up to Sonoma County Children’s Village, they couldn’t quite trust that this dream of a spring-break expedition would really happen.
During the four years ABRN has run the Top Shops contest, readers have gotten to know a lot of fresh faces in the industry, along with a number of new ideas they can consider bringing home to their own businesses.
They also get a chance to learn more about returning winners. Santa Rosa, Calif.-based on G&C Auto Body poses some real challengers here. Along with multiple Top Shops articles, the shop and its crusading owner Gene Crozat, have been covered in nearly every industry publication and media outlet…
Charity giving is alive and well for body shops in Northern California. Four collision repairer companies were among those who gave away refurbished cars through charitable efforts during 2012.
G&C Auto Body, Golden State Collision, Regal Collision and Mike’s Auto Body all stepped up last year and reached out to their respective communities in a huge way. By providing 15 needy families or non-profit organizations with vehicles, these shops changed their recipients’ lives literally overnight by giving them a new start and the independence of transportation.
On Nov. 11, Mike Rose’s Auto Body held the first of its two Benevolence presentations on Veteran’s Day at its Fairfield location. The second presentation was held at its Antioch location on December 12. A total of six cars were given away by the company, setting a bar for charity amongst body shops in the Bay Area.
Gene Crozat, the owner of G&C Auto Body known as a fierce business competitor to surrounding shops, has always done everything in a big way. If you ever visit any of his 10 Bay Area locations, you’ll see they look more like The Bellagio in Las Vegas than a body shop. Crozat is already legendary for generously donating money, clothing and other items to families throughout northern California, for no reason other than to know he has helped someone. He is also well-known for his Meter Beaters Program that takes place every holiday season as he covers peoples’ parking fees in downtown Santa Rosa, CA—a program G&C has sponsored for the past 20 years. But, now the man and his family are fast-tracking and increasing their charitable efforts, by giving away more cars and more cash for people and organizations that need it.
For example, last year the Crozat family made record-setting pledges to the Christmas Wish program and The Children’s Village, as well as many smaller donations to local community non-profit organizations including Men-R-Pigs, Becoming Independent, the Jon Michael Martin Medical Fund and the Boys & Girls Club of Marin, local Boy Scout troops, softball leagues and elementary schools.
Recently, Teri and Gene Crozat sponsored a trip to Disneyland for 14 of the staff and all 24 kids of The Children’s Village in Santa Rosa, as well as donating an entertainment center in their existing rec room. They also donated the use of the company’s luxury suite at a Giant’s game, including 12 tickets, as an item for the annual auction at The Children’s Village Gala, raising $6,000.
It all began 20 years ago as a knee-jerk reaction to a bad experience with a parking meter maid, but today it has been lauded as a successful social experiment while evolving into a highly effective viral marketing endeavor. The G & C Meter Beaters are a Santa Rosa, California, based creation of Gene Crozat, the owner of G & C Auto Body, with seven locations in the Northern Bay Area, with an eighth opening in June.
During the 10 days right before Christmas, the G & C Meter Beaters save drivers from getting parking penalties by feeding their meters before the City of Santa Rosa’s parking enforcement officers are able to nail them with a $33 parking ticket. It’s a program that Crozat began when he was upset over what he felt was an unfair parking ticket he received two decades ago.
“I was rushing back to my car after shopping and the meter maid was sitting there waiting for the meter to expire,” Crozat said. “She saw me coming, but she gave me the ticket anyway. I was really mad, so I went to the bank and got a bunch of quarters. I told my kids—get out there and put money in all these meters before they expire. That’ll show ‘em.”