By ARDEN BASTIA The sign at 350 Wellington Ave. might still say Lou Pelosi's Precision Collision Service, but as of late April, the well-known Cranston auto body and mechanical repair shop has proud new owners. After more than 50 years in the business,
The sign at 350 Wellington Ave. might still say Lou Pelosi’s Precision Collision Service, but as of late April, the well-known Cranston auto body and mechanical repair shop has proud new owners.
After more than 50 years in the business, Pelosi, a lifelong Cranston resident, retired and handed over his life’s work to business partners Timothy Gibb and Corey Smith.
Though this is the first joint venture for Gibb and Smith as entrepreneurs, Corey’s wife, Kelly, calls their partnership “a no-brainer” for those who know the two best friends. Gibb has 30 years experience as both an auto body technician and body shop manager, while Smith is a CPA and CFO.
“I wasn’t surprised at all when Corey told me he wanted to go into business with Tim,” said Kelly Smith in a press release. “My husband has always been extremely driven and when he gets an idea in his head, you can almost guarantee he’s going to make it happen.”
Both Gibb and Smith are lifelong Warwick residents, and first met when their children were students at Cedar Hill Elementary School. Gibb currently lives in Potowomut and Smith lives in Cowesett.
In a recent interview, Gibb talked about his family of motorheads. Gibb’s brother, Keith, was “a huge car enthusiast” and lost a lifelong fight with diabetes last September. He was just 47 years old.
“I think of everyone we know, Keith was most excited for Tim,” Kelly Smith said. “The two of them worked on cars together since they were teenagers and Keith was looking forward to when Tim bought the shop.”
Kelly Gibb (yes, both wives are named Kelly) said she knew her brother-in-law was with Gibb, spiritually carrying him through the first few weeks of owning the shop.
“He was very proud of his little brother,” she said. “This wasn’t just Tim’s dream coming true, but both of theirs. If he were here today, I know he’d be bursting with pride.”
Smith never imagined that he’d be the co-owner of an auto body shop.
“I never intended to be a business owner,” said Smith in an interview. “But I knew it was Tim’s dream to be his own boss and one day out of nowhere, it just hit me and I thought, ‘Why not?’”
Call it fate, or luck, but it was more than a coincidence that Gibb and Smith bought the shop.
With no one to pass the family business on to – Pelosi’s son is an accomplished engineer with no interest in taking over Precision Collision – Pelosi, who is close friends with Gibb’s father Bruce, mentioned he was planning to sell, but just had to find the right buyers.
“I knew it was almost time to retire a couple of years ago,” Pelosi said. He didn’t officially decide he wanted to sell until January 2020, at which point, Gibb approached him about taking over the business.
“I knew right from the beginning these were the guys I could trust my business with. And that was important to me. I knew it needed to be someone who was as passionate about cars as I am,” Pelosi said. “I knew if I was going to sell, it needed to be someone my customers can trust.”
“I woke up that day like a kid on Christmas morning,” said Gibb, who had already been working alongside Pelosi for several weeks before taking over as the new co-owner. “Lou built a great business at Precision and I could hardly wait to make it my own.”
Gibb says he and Smith have plans to run the shop with the same spirit as Pelosi did, but are looking forward to putting their own spin on it. From implementing more modern auto repair techniques to installing a state-of-the-art paint booth, Gibb said the work done by Precision Collision Service will go above and beyond what clients, both old and new, are expecting.
Pelosi has stayed on in a reduced capacity during the first month of new ownership to “make the customers feel welcome and provide a sense of continuity,” Smith said in an interview.
Smith explained that most of the original Precision Collision staff will remain with the shop, including three auto body technicians and one mechanic.
“I know they’re going to do well with it,” Pelosi said in the press release. “That made my decision to sell to these guys easy, knowing my guys would be staying on board under the new owners.”
For Smith and Gibb, this venture is a chance to take the wheel of their own destiny.
“We’re just expanding and making it bigger and better,” he said. “This is a chance to provide financial stability for our families. And maybe one day, one of our kids will want to take over the business, and this will give them the opportunity to do something entrepreneurial.”
Precision Collision Services is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. For questions or more information, call (401) 461-3368 or follow the business on Facebook.