F. LOFRANO & SON EMBRACES USI ITALIA AND ACQUIRES SECOND BOOTH
A third-generation business that opened back in 1974 has grown to five locations, with four in San Francisco and one in Marin County. F. Lofrano & Son was founded by Tony Lofrano after he learned the collision repair industry from his father Frank and today, Tony’s sons Aaron and Josh manage locations for this family’s multiple shop organization.
Area Manager Josh Lofrano started working for the business full-time right out of high school. By embracing the finest equipment, tools and processes, F. Lofrano & Son has been able to flourish in a very competitive city and establish a strong reputation for doing quality work.
Two years ago, Lofrano & Son bought a USI Italia after performing their due diligence and research first. “We heard about a new spray booth that was made in Italy and when we saw it in action, we were very impressed.” Aaron said. “We spent one full day watching them paint four cars in the USI booth. We were pretty shocked when we saw the amount of airflow and impressed by all of its features. So we decided to order one and by the end of the year, we will have our second one in another one of our locations.”
Currently, San Francisco’s Mission District is the home of their Chronotech USI Italia spray booth. “It’s in our overflow facility now, but later this year it will become a full-service shop,” Lofrano said. “We’re painting almost 500 vehicles every month, so we need a spray booth that won’t break down for whatever reason.”
When it comes to acquiring any new piece of equipment it has to fulfill three requirements, Josh said. “It has to improve our efficiency; make sense financially and fit into our production seamlessly before we even consider anything. We also value things like training and support, because we want to make sure that any vendor we’re working with is responsive and that they can give us the right training so that our painters will be able to use it effectively, in this case.”
Since the use of waterborne paint is mandated in California, Lofrano & Son wanted a booth that could best accommodate this product, Lofrano said. “We spray PPG Envirobase and our USI booth is ideal for curing the waterborne paints. The heat is recycled throughout the booth, so we can bake these cars rapidly and start working on them outside of the booth more quickly. We never have to use hand dryers ever. The temperature in the booth can ramp up fast and in some cases; we run it at around 180 degrees for 14-18 minutes on average. When these cars come out of the booth, they look incredible and our customers are often surprised by how good they look.”
Another reason why Lofrano & Son is enamored with their USI Italia booth is the way it saves energy and improves the company’s bottom line. “We estimate that by using this booth, we’re cutting our usage by half overall. Just with the energy savings, we know that our Chronotech is going to pay for itself rather quickly.”
The time savings associated with their USI Italia booth is also a big plus for Josh Lofrano and his crew. “We are saving 15 minutes per car and reducing flash times between coats, which means that we can paint at least one more vehicle every day that comes out to an additional 260 cars annually, which is obviously significant.”
The head painter at Lofrano & Son’s Mission location Carlos Nino has learned how to use the USI Italia’s EPS System, thanks to training provided by the manufacturer. “We customized its parameters and created our own recipes that work well for us, and after some excellent training, Carlos is getting very good at it,” Lofrano said. “All of our other eight painters and 16 preppers have gone through the training as well and used it and they all love it as well.”
Their USI Italia booth hasn’t encountered any issues since Lofrano & Son purchased a Chronotech two years ago, but if they do they know they’re in good hands. “USI provides virtual support, so if and when something goes wrong, we can get feedback from them rapidly, Josh explained.”In a busy shop environment, time is money and we can’t be waiting around for a tech to come here to fix any issues that might exist. Things can happen from time to time, and when they do, we need a web-based system like this for a prompt response.”
As Lofrano & Son enters a period of expansion in a very competitive market, top-tier equipment that performs well on a consistent basis will give his company a distinct advantage, Josh said. “Buying a USI Italia is one of the smartest investments we’ve ever made. We’ll still be using these spray booths 25 years from now, which is what you want with any piece of equipment we acquire.”