New John Harris facility to open in Sumter in July

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Sumter's only chain brand body shop will soon be moving just down the road and into a new facility to better serve its customers, according to the collision repair store's area manager.

David Clark, Charleston area manager for John Harris Body Shops, made his comments recently about the operator's new shop under construction at 2945 Broad St. that's planned to open in July.

John Harris has been renting its current space at 1196 Broad St., next to Jones Chevrolet, for about five years now, Clark said. He indicated that Jones Chevrolet has other plans for the property for the future, so his company decided to build a new top-of-the-line, 20,000-square-foot shop about 1 1/2 miles down Broad Street.

According to Clark, the new shop will also have a redesigned building layout that will increase efficiencies in how employees work on vehicles.

Those operational processes, which he describes as similar to a manufacturing production line facility, are what set John Harris apart from its competitors in the collision repair business, he said. John Harris' cycle times are nearly two days quicker than the average body shop, Clark said.

He's also excited about the new location farther down Broad Street and thinks it will be a good spot to serve both the community and service members at Shaw Air Force Base.

John Harris has about 20 employees in its facility next to Jones Chevrolet, and all will be moving to the new facility in July.

The operator has done well in Sumter so far, and Clark hopes the new paint and body shop will be able to grow business and potentially add new employees.

John Harris is also building a new facility in the Augusta, Georgia, market, and when that's completed it will have 10 locations in South Carolina and Georgia, he said.

Clark said the multi-shop operator considers its customer service index to be its most important business indicator.

"If the customer is happy, then obviously we'll continue to have customers that come through the door," Clark said. "It's not really about how many cars we can put out the door in a day but how we can make that experience a good one so that they will go out and share that with other people, and we'll stay busy."