No one plans to get into an accident. But when it happens, wouldn’t you like to have a plan? Even a small rear-end bump can upend your day, but a larger-scale accident can be traumatizing. LJI Collision Center wants to be part of your contingency plan for that unwanted event, in hopes that you won’t ever actually need them.
LJI Collision provides service 24 hours a day. That means if you’re involved in an accident after business hours, there’s someone who will answer your call. Not a recording and not an answering service, a real human who works for LJI Collision Center and understands what you’re experiencing.
Owners and sisters, Lauren Angie and Jill Strauss, grew up in the body shop business. “We learned the importance of being there for the customer from our dad, Michael Giarrizzo, Sr.” Lauren explains. “Accidents don’t always happen during regular office hours. When someone calls we know they’re in need and we know how to help them. First of all, are you okay? Do you need a tow? Do you need us to bring you a rental car?”
Lauren and Jill own and operate both locations with their management team. LJI Collision Center in Cleveland Heights is located at 1640 Lee Road, on the same property where their father built an auto repair shop in 1960. “The business actually began in 1946 with my grandfather’s gas station,” says Lauren. “My dad built a collision repair shop in 1960 at Mayfield and Lee which my sister, Jill, and I recently reopened and remodeled with the latest equipment in auto repair. I used to take the bus from Brush High School in 1975 to my dad’s shop to work with him,” Lauren continues.
Lauren and Jill opened the Orange Village location at Chagrin Boulevard, right off of I-271, in 2010. Jill describes the environmentally safe equipment used in both of LJI’s shops, “These are state-of-the-art facilities. Paint booths at both locations are eco-friendly with Italian equipment which uses a water-borne paint, not solvent. Even those particles are recaptured so it keeps the atmosphere healthier.”
Part of LJI’s culture is cleanliness. The shop itself is spotless and the cars coming in for repairs are cleaned and detailed thoroughly, both before and after the repair process. Vacuum-assisted equipment ensures all sanding particles are collected so that each workspace is thoroughly clean before the next car comes in. “It’s a cleaner environment for the technicians to work in and it’s part of the culture to keep the space clean,” Jill explains. “In our environment that kind of cleanliness is a standard,” Lauren says. “That’s how we were taught. It’s a business advantage and non-negotiable.”
Mike iGiarrizzo, Sr. now enjoys his role as business advisor to the third and fourth generations operating LJI Collision Center. “My dad came home from WWII and opened a gas station,” Mike Sr. reminisces. “I was 22 when we opened the first repair shop. Cars in those days weren’t as mechanically sound as they are today. I got more satisfaction doing the body work. It’s instant gratification when you’re finished and see the results.”
Mike Sr., Lauren and Jill are especially proud of the quality of the repairs performed at LJI. “With the current technology and equipment we can make a repair which is impossible to detect,” Mike Sr. says. “Cars today are made structurally to protect the passengers, to absorb and not resist, damage. The design is really phenomenal, so much safer.”
Mike Sr. has a great deal of pride in the legacy he has helped create. In listening to Mike Sr.’s stories and business experiences, it’s easy to imagine what his daughters must have heard as they were growing up. The passion for providing excellent service to his customers and maintaining a reputation for excellence is inherent in the way he talks about his life’s work.
Mike Sr. summarizes the business philosophy he taught his daughters and is teaching his grandsons: “We never stop delivering, never stop trying. Treat each customer as if they were our first customer. Every day my concern is making sure our employees leave satisfied and the customers are happy. When customers walk in the door - help them. We don’t know what they need, it doesn’t matter, just help them. A customer could need something as little as air in their tires.”
Lauren and Jill have created a sophisticated but warm atmosphere at the LJI Collision Center. Knowing that their customers are going through a difficult time after experiencing an accident, they are intent on providing a welcoming and relaxing space. The customer lounge area is quite calming and comfortable. An art boutique gives it a homelike quality. Owned and operated by women who have been steeped in a customer service culture, there’s a comfort level at LJI that you won’t find in many repair shops.
“We manage this stressful situation from the moment we take the phone call until the customer has their car returned,” Lauren emphasizes. “It’s our goal to make our customers comfortable when they’re in the midst of a frightening situation.”
LJI Collision Center repairs all makes and models and works with all insurance companies. Online reviews reveal that LJI has earned the confidence of many customers. This is a powerful reflection of the pride Jill, Lauren, their father, and now their sons take in their family business. Mike Sr. says his girls got up early to wash their cars before driving them to school. “The cars represent us,” he remembers telling them. “It’s what we stand for, so we have to take care of them. When we build a new building - it’s the same thing - we want it to look the same in ten years, like brand new. We invite people into our business so we keep it up. Keep everything up, even yourself,” says the man who looks half the age he must be.
“I have the same passion I had when I started 60 years ago, and my daughters and grandsons carry that same emotion with our business, LJI Collision Center.”
LJI Collision Center
27100 Chagrin Boulevard, Orange Village
1640 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights
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