With all the bad publicity surrounding Lawrence’s crime and corruption problems, you might think that small businesses like A&M Auto Body would be resistant to moving into the city. But, Angelo Memmolo of East Boston says he sees Lawrence as a “great opportunity” to expand the auto body business his father started when he was a kid.
“Moving to Lawrence was a great opportunity for me. It’s very hard to find a shop at a reasonable price. I hear in the industry that Lawrence is actually a good opportunity business-wise, and a lot of the insurance companies that I talk to say they are looking for good, quality shops to work with. So, I think Lawrence presented me with a unique opportunity to grow my business and I feel very lucky we found this location. I’m happy to be here and I’m proud to say my business is in Lawrence.
A&M Auto Body is located at 341 South Broadway where the old Metropolitan Auto Body shop used to be across from the Haffners Car Wash. They are open from 8AM to 6PM, Mon-Fri. Saturdays from 9AM to 2PM, (closed Sundays).
“But, there are times we are here late. I will wait for a customer if they call me late in the day or something happens late in the day.
“We provide towing and also handle glass and mechanical work. We set up our customers with Enterprise car rentals. We try to be a full service one-stop shop, so if someone needs a paint job or something we don’t do here, we have other businesses that we work with where we can send them to get those things done.
Years of Experience
“My father started A&M Auto Body in 1982. It was located in a shop inside another building called Bens Auto Body in East Boston. He started with a partner. In the beginning they were Alex and Matteo. That’s how it became A&M. Within a year Matteo left, so my dad decided to go ahead with the business on his own.”
“Because my dad didn’t have an education, he couldn’t read and write, he did a lot of grunt work. He worked really hard. He broke his back so to speak, for the owner of the building for 16 years before he opened up his own business.”
Angelo says his dad rented a stall, a two car bay and a garage that had 8 bays in it. He rented one bay at first. “It was a struggle for him at first.”
Angelo says he worked for his father in high school, but in college he got into a really bad car accident. “So, I couldn’t work for a while. Dad hired other people and he succeeded in the business until he gave it to me when he was diagnosed with cancer in 2003.”
“When I took it over from him we went from renting one bay, to 2, and from there we grew and grew.”
“We could only grow so much where we were, because we were sharing space with the other businesses so our opportunities were limited. So, as we were growing (around 2012 or 2013) I took over half the building we were in, but we were still sharing space. It was a lot of hours and a lot of grinding. Nothing ever came easy doing business in East Boston. It was really hard trying to get a big customer base. Not to mention that the customer base had changed significantly over the years.”
DIRECT REPAIR FACILITY
“In Massachusetts, the regulations are changing. They are trying to get more direct repair facilities … and as a side note, Massachusetts is the only state in the country that does it this way.”
“So, for the last 5 or 6 years, the state is trying to find shops that will work with them under their rules and regulation. If you get into an accident depending on who the insurance carrier is, they used to steer their customers to their facilities. So, the industry has changed a lot in the last few years.”
“Most people don’t know what a direct repair facility is. That means there’s an insurance company in your office to help you with all the paperwork as a one stop-shop. But, in Massachusetts, as a customer, you can go wherever you want. You don’t have to be directed anywhere. The state is trying to change that. The state wants more direct repair facilities and that’s hurting the small shops.
“Insurance companies are trying to get us to do the work. To service in this business today you have to work with all insurance carriers. So, if you don’t work with them, you aren’t going to be successful. As a business you won’t make it.”
“We work with everyone and we have a great network. We work with the insurance company for you. We will make sure you get your body work done right and done fast so you can go on with your life and not have to worry about going out and finding someone to repair the paint, or the glass or any of the other things that most body shops won’t do. We subcontract that out but we save you the time of finding someone to do that work.
“Angelo says that he is happy to be in Lawrence and adds that every community has problems, “but you don’t let stuff like that prevent you from being successful. Lawrence is our new home and we are happy about that. We are doing well in the short time we have been here. We hire people locally, we do the work locally, and we go out of our way to make the experience as easy for the customer as possible.
We will even drive your car to you when it’s done if you are local, or help you make arrangements to get your vehicle if you are outside the area.