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New home helps Autowerks continue accelerated growth

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For more than 20 years, Philip Thearle’s Autowerks has been the only auto body shop many discriminating drivers of BMWs, Jaguars, Porsches and other high-end foreign roadsters trust to keep their babies in mint condition.

Thearle started his business in 1981 as a one-man operation, working out of a borrowed stall in another shop. Since then, word of mouth from satisfied customers, relationships with leading car dealerships and recognition from associations such as the Automobile Club of Southern California have helped him grow Autowerks into one of Southern California’s largest and most successful body shops.

“Our business has grown exponentially every year, sometimes by more than 40 percent,” said Thearle, whose children now also work for the business. “We’ve managed to get where we are without even placing an ad in the Yellow Pages. Our employees are the key to our success, as well as our loyal customers.”

When Autowerks was clearly outgrowing its home of 15 years, Thearle was thrilled to find an ideal new location in Santee with almost 50,000 square feet of space. But while shopping for an SBA loan, he encountered bankers who couldn’t grasp Autowerks’ potential to more than quadruple its sales in a new facility.

“Some local banks were overwhelmed by the scope of the project and the dramatic projected increase in sales,” Thearle explained. “But Community National Bank decided to grab the bull by the horns and make it happen.”

Thearle secured an SBA 504 loan from Community National Bank and opened his new facility in January. Currently operating at 29 percent capacity, gross sales have already doubled. Thearle plans to add 30 more employees to his staff of 57 within the next 15 months. Ultimately, the new shop will be capable of handling 1,200 cars a month.

“Community National Bank did a fabulous job,” Thearle said. “Now we deal with them for all our banking needs. It’s been a very positive relationship.”

With nine branches in San Diego County and two in Riverside, Community National Bank is a Preferred SBA Lender dedicated to serving the financing needs of small businesses throughout California and other western states.

Sponsored by Community National Bank

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