Last month, Absolute Collision purchased three out of four of Wilmington-based Register’s Auto Collision's auto repair shops.
Register’s Auto Collision opened in Wilmington in 1975 at 128 Harley Road. The company, operated by Steve Register, who took over the business from his father, also has a location in Hampstead at 15744 U.S. Hwy. 17. It opened another location in 2004 in Monkey Junction at 5548 Carolina Beach Road, according to the company’s website, and in 2014, the business opened its fourth shop in Leland at 154 Backhoe Road.
Register will continue to operate his Hampstead location for a few more years until he is ready to retire, according to Absolute Collision’s owner, Thomas Goforth. Once Register is ready to retire, Absolute Collision intends to purchase the Hampstead store as well. Equipment costs make opening new shops an expensive endeavor, Register said on the company’s website. The business boasted its ability to repair any make and model vehicle.
Absolute Collision took on about 33 employees with the Feb. 20 acquisition of the three Wilmington stores. The business now has 62 employees, Goforth said.
With the mentorship of Mike Griffin, managing partner of Griffin Brothers Companies, Goforth launched Absolute Collision in 2020. Goforth purchased his first two Absolute Collision auto shops in Shelby and Forest City, N.C. in 2020. He kept the name but rebranded the stores’ image, updated interiors and aligned the culture with his vision.
“I partnered up with Mike and he used the term, ‘go fishing’ and we found these,” Goforth said. “I’m thankful for his partnership.” Minority partner Richie DeLaRosa has also assisted with the acquisition and transition process, Goforth said.
In November 2021, Absolute Collision purchased its third store, Bowen Collision Center, also located in Shelby. With the Wilmington purchases, Absolute Collision now has six shops.
“We've retained everybody every time we've done this and it's been a success,” he said. “There's so many shops out there that have been consolidated and you're a number, not an employee. So I think our culture is what really brings everybody together.”
Goforth said he aims to have acquired between eight and 10 locations across the Southeast by the end of the year. He said is actively talking with 30 different repair shops and hopes to own between 20 and 30 locations in the next three to five years.
“Our culture is people first, profit second,” Goforth said. “We treat them like family.”
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