Industry Veteran Jim Huard Exits Latest Venture, Painters Collision Centers

PHOENIX, February 12, 2024 – Last month, prolific industry veteran Jim Huard sold his latest successful venture, Painters Collision Centers, to Classic Collision. This exit caps off over four decades of entrepreneurial accomplishments for Jim, who has led the start-up, growth, and sale of several high-performing collision repair businesses across the US. Painters was represented in the transaction by Focus Advisors.

Jim Huard started his collision career at 15 by working in his family’s shop in Whittier, CA. In 1978, his dad’s shop partnered with Allstate in the nation’s first-ever DRP. In the first of what would become many turnarounds, Jim was able to successfully transition his family’s business to a computerized system allowing them to maintain their high level of volume. This experience prepared Jim for a lifetime of guiding shops through complex changes and rapid growth.

Relocating to Portland, Oregon for a general manager role at the age of 26. Jim was instrumental in the growth of two independents. Jim earned a partnership in the 2nd independent which he grew from approx. $270k a month to over $800k a month. This location was then sold to Kadel’s Auto Body. Jim was retained as an operations manager. Jim assisted in their growth. In Jims words, Toby Wiltse the owner of Kadel’s is an entrepreneurial genius. This is where he really decided what he wanted to be. He followed Toby’s footsteps but on a smaller scale.

Ten years later, Jim brought his proven leadership and operational expertise to help expand MSOs in Southern California. Joining Caliber Collision first as a GM, Regional, then became their “Turnaround Specialist”, he spent nine years there, reorganizing dozens of shops in San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles. He was instrumental in helping grow Caliber’s footprint from 75 to 500 stores. He characterizes it as one of the most fun times of his career.

He then joined industry pioneer Erick Bickett at Fix Auto ACAB Automotive Group. Auto Center Auto Body (ACAB) as VP of Operations Jim was solely responsible for the operations and financial growth of the Bickett MSO within the Fix Auto group. Jim assisted in the growth of Fix Auto USA as well. Jim quickly earned an equity stake in the Bickett MSO and became an owner partner. Jim met his future wife, Kelly, with whom he shared a mutual entrepreneurial vision and strong work ethic. Kelly – with a long career in financial services from real estate underwriting to controller and CFO – deeply understood the organizational and financial structure required for starting and operating businesses. After the sale of ACAB and Fix Auto (also represented by Focus Advisors), Kelly wrote Jim a three-page letter encouraging him to start a collision business in Arizona.

In January 2021, at the age of 53, Jim started Painters Collision Centers in the Phoenix market with Kelly as his business partner. Their strategy was to acquire struggling shops with great potential. Their paint reps helped them identify the right acquisition targets. Jim and Kelly would quickly close on these targets and then implement their integration plans. They started Painters in January 2021 by acquiring a location in Queen Creek followed by their Chandler store in March 2022. In January 2023, they opened a dedicated ADAS facility and three months later, they bought their third shop in Apache Junction. With Kelly handling the back-office and Jim directing shop operations, the Huards grew Painters to three locations with over 100 employees – all within the span of two years. They made each acquisition cash flow positive within 30 days.

Chris Lane, Partner at Focus Advisors, the sell-side advisory firm that represented Painters in its sale to Classic Collision, remarked: “what Jim has been able to repeatedly accomplish across so many different shops and markets over four decades is just incredible. He is unmatched in his consistent ability to transform underperforming collision shops. The MSO that the Huards built in Arizona was one of the highest performing MSOs I’ve ever seen.”

In just 36 months, Jim and Kelly achieved their original goal of creating a high-performance three-shop MSO in Phoenix. With their reputation and exceptional financial performance, they drew substantial interest from many top consolidators. Focus Advisors guided them through the sales process with Classic Collision, allowing the Huards to exit their latest success story on excellent financial terms in January.

“I can proudly say that I’ve played a key role in positively shaping hundreds of collision centers over my career. Though it’s extremely gratifying to build successful businesses like Painters, I’m just as passionate about developing people and making this industry better,” said Jim. “I still have the fire in my belly to take on new entrepreneurial pursuits. With Kelly’s partnership, I’m confident there are still plenty of innovative pursuits for us yet to come.”

About Focus Advisors:

Focus Advisors ( is the collision industry’s leading M&A advisory firm, partnering with independent MSOs between $10-100M in annual revenue, helping owners achieve maximum value through strategic growth and exits. Unlike traditional business brokers or large investment banks, Focus Advisors specializes exclusively in collision repair – giving owners unparalleled insight into value, interest, and opportunity timing. With over 25 years in the industry, Managing Director David Roberts has led more than 40 transactions totaling over $500 million in transaction value and more than 325 collision repair shops, including Pride Auto Body, Quanz Auto Body, Mills Body Shops, and Master Collision Group.

Investment Banking Services and Securities offered through Independent Investment Bankers Corp., a broker-dealer, member FINRA/SIPC. Focus Advisors is not affiliated with Independent Investment Bankers Corp.

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