Meet Your Merchant: Collision repair, restoration a true art at Rolly’s Body Shop
Rolly’s Body Shop
Location: 1317 Sutton Way, Grass Valley
Hours: Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Extended hours and weekends by appointment
Brandon Hembree first fell in love with cars in the ninth grade. For the next four years at Placer High School, he spent most of his free time in the auto body shop learning everything he could.
By the time he graduated, he already had a marketable skill and landed a job at an auto body shop in Auburn. A seasoned technician at the shop named Wayne Skipper saw potential in Brandon, and as his mentor, told him, “If you follow my lead, you’ll always be the first hired and the last fired.”
Brandon’s aptitude and work ethic also caught the attention of a paint service representative, Tug Franssen, whose family owned Rolly’s Body Shop in Grass Valley.
“He wanted me to come and work for his family’s business — he thought I would be an asset,” said Brandon. “In 2006, they adopted me as their shop manager — they brought me here with the intention of taking over the business. They were ready to start phasing out of the business but wanted it to maintain that family feel.”
As a result, Brandon moved his family to Grass Valley and worked side by side for the next three years learning the business with Shane Franssen, Tug’s brother. Their father, Rolly, had founded the business and since retired.
When Shane went on to pursue a career in law enforcement with the Nevada City Police Department, Brandon took the helm, and became the official manager and co-owner in January of 2013.
Today, Brandon and his wife Lorin oversee a small staff, who are spread out inside the 8,000 square feet of shop space.
A personal — and professional — coup for Brandon was recruiting his longtime mentor, Wayne, to his shop to work as his shop foreman.
Wayne now commutes daily from Loomis just to work for Brandon. Also on staff is Brandon’s mother, Tammy Woodard, who works part-time in the office and helps out with the grandchildren.
“Lorin and Brandon have always been hard workers — once Brandon came in with pneumonia when he should have been home,” said his mother. “He’s never missed a day. I’ve seen him stay until 4 a.m. because he promised someone their car would be ready in the morning.”
Working closely with insurance adjusters when needed, services at Rolly’s Body Shop include auto body repair, collision repair, auto restoration, including computerized color matching, auto framework using a laser measuring system, fiberglass repair, air conditioning repair and more.
Rolly’s is a AAA pro shop and the staff is certified by I-CAR, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing advanced knowledge and skills required to perform complete, safe and quality repairs. Their training is ongoing, said Brandon.
In addition, a local rental car company attends to customers’ needs on site if needed. Brandon says there is real value in being able to communicate directly with the owner of a family-owned body shop, versus dealing with corporate chains.
“We want to make sure no one is unhappy,” said Brandon. “We don’t want to disturb the rhythm of people’s lives — we see customers regularly around town and fortunately our best advertising is word of mouth. We will match or beat prices and work with people who are on a budget.”
While Brandon’s passion is restoring cars — some of which have ended up winning awards — he also takes pride in his collision repair. The shop uses high quality German paint known as Spies Hecker, and Rolly’s offers a lifetime warranty.
“A sign of good collision work is that no one knows a car had any work done at all,” he said. “But good restoration work attracts attention from across the parking lot. One of my cars is even in a book called ‘How to Refinish Your Car.’”
While clearly the Hembrees understand what it means to work hard, they also understand the meaning of family.
In 2011, Lorin was diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer at the age of 25. She was unable to work for two full years and is now, thankfully, cancer-free. The couple has two children, ages 8 and 7.
“My whole mind-set changed after being diagnosed,” said Lorin. “Now I like helping others do everything they can to beat cancer.”
“I’ve learned not to put things on a bucket list for down the road — it’s important to enjoy life now,” said Brandon. “We work hard, but these days those birthday and anniversary cards really mean something.”
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at Cory@theunion.com.
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