By Steve McLinden
FORT WORTH — There were the Wright Brothers, the Marx Brothers and, more recently, television’s Property Brothers. Now, in Cowtown, U.S.A., there are the Crash Brothers, launched by repair perfectionist Jeff Moses less than two years ago.
Collision work wasn’t “brother” Moses’ first calling. He started his professional career performing a different sort of body touch-up work. A fresh graduate of mortuary school, one of Moses’ duties was to make the newly departed as presentable as possible for open-casket services.
Moses had no problem with the morbidity of the trade, but his career as an independent undertaker was short-lived. Competition was growing increasingly fierce at the time Moses entered the trade at the same time as huge conglomerates such as Service Corp. International were either buying out or edging out smaller mortuaries.
So the ever-handy Moses opted to work with metal bodies instead, specializing in paintless-dent repair (PDR) through the early part of his repair career. He had managed a central Fort Worth PDR shop at 1717 White Settlement Road for years, before buying it out in 2017 with plans of making it a full-service body shop that he’d come to name Crash Brother Paint & Body.
Moses’ brother, a successful south Texas anesthesiologist, had originally agreed to be a silent partner and investor in the fledgling Crash Brothers operation, hence the “brother” reference. But, as it turns out, the owner was able to raise enough funds himself by selling (somewhat painfully), his dream house, so he didn’t need his brother’s help after all. But the shop name “was still sort of cool and it stuck,” said Moses.
The shop does a considerable amount of “wholesale” fleet work, doing repairs for 14 different dealerships, including AutoNation.
“But we’re slowly trying to transition from wholesale to [better-margin] retail work,” Moses said.
At Crash Brother’s founding, retail business comprised a small percentage of the shop’s trade, but that figure has since grown to be about 30 percent and is rising, according to the shop.
In its first full year, the shop recorded $500,000 in repairs, and it hopes to double that in the present fiscal year.
“Our ultimate goal is to expand and have a couple shops to leave to my kids to run,” said Moses, 46. Those kids, son Max and daughter Claudia, are active in various repair and utility roles at the shop, as they continue to sharpen their trade knowledge.
The overall philosophy of Crash Brothers “is a happy customer is a repeat customer, so we treat every single car like our personal vehicles,” Moses said. “We realize that cars are peoples’ livelihoods, and we want to make sure those cars are returned to them in pre-accident condition with a lifetime guarantee.”
Dale Cypert, the owner’s right-hand man, had been a “godsend” in helping build up trade and sustaining the shop’s vaunted customer-service ethic, Moses said. Not only is Cypert a font of industry knowledge, he can fill any role there at any time, and be instructional to the staff of nine in the process.
“I’ve got a lot of knowledge in my brain, and I don’t want to die with it, without sharing it,” Cypert said. “I like being the go-to guy.”
Cypert, who served more than 40 years in various automotive-repair fields, attended Haltom High School, studying in what had evolved into one of the best auto-body and mechanic training venues in the Southwest, producing innumerable shop owners and top-notch industry craftspeople who went on to ply their talents to the far reaches of the U.S., Cypert said. Sadly, the high school car-repair programs were phased out in 2000 when computer and digital-technology training started playing weightier roles in the job base.
Cypert owns a diverse, hard-to-rival industry curriculum vitae. He started out in an internship of sorts during his junior year in high school, helping out at the still-existing Frank Kent Cadillac new-car dealership. He went on to become an estimator, independent appraiser, insurance specialist with a major insurer, parts seller, shop manager and owner of two area body shops, in Haltom City and Weatherford, the latter a city about 25 miles west of Fort Worth.
At present, a lengthy construction/rerouting project along White Settlement Road has cut off direct access to the shop from the rest of the road, crimping what had been direct access from the west side of town, Moses said. Still, the shop is less than a hundred yards from a main downtown thoroughfare, Henderson Street, making it one of the closest collision centers to the Fort Worth Central Business District, where Moses gets a sizable chunk of its retail customers.
The shop has two buildings, totaling about 10,000 square feet, and dozens of car spaces, giving it plenty of room to increase business and bring in new equipment. Tools of the trade there include two paint booths, including a whopper, $125,000-downdraft PPG booth.
While there are no actual brothers at Crash Brothers, there’s still a family operational ethic that helps keep the repair work flowing and the workers happy, said Moses. There are three Moses family members on hand and three Walthall family members spread out over three generations as well, including veteran Curt Walthall, a 30-year body man.
Crash Brothers is one of the few local body shops to draw a five-star rating on social media. One motorist from nearby North Richland Hills said Crash Brothers “did amazing work on my hail-damaged Tahoe at a fraction of the price that Service King quoted me.” Moses was “incredibly thorough and helpful to us throughout the entire process and dealt directly with our insurance company so we didn’t have to worry about it; five stars and two big thumbs up.” Noted a different customer from Fort Worth, “The shop has great service and great people! They were speedy and professional and gave me options for the best price. I’d definitely recommend to friends and family!”
Cypert credits owner Moses at the innovative stimulus for the shop’s success.
“He is an unbelievably good guy and smart businessman. and he is great with customers,” summarized Cypert of his boss. “I love him like he is a brother.” •