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Euro Auto Body – realizing the American Dream, the old-fashioned way – Brendan Higgins

by Brendan Higgins, contributing writer

Photo: Tony and Enrico Magliolo

Have you ever had a bad experience with an auto body shop? I know I have. In fact, I’ve had more than one frustrating encounter with body shops over the years. I always felt helpless and at their mercy. The job was never complete when they said it would be. I remember picking up my car in what should have been a happy occasion. Instead, I was annoyed with the condescending way I was treated and the crappy service I received.

A few months ago, I was driving on Interstate 95 south and noticed my passenger side rear view mirror was turned in towards the window glass. I was close to home, so I decided to keep going until I was safely parked in my driveway to investigate. I walked around to the other side of the vehicle to discover someone had sideswiped my car. I was coming home after being parked in a busy Warwick shopping plaza parking lot, so I’m guessing it happened there. The damage was extensive. From the front headlight to the rear taillight, the car was damaged. I quickly looked to see if maybe a note was left under the wiper blade, but no such luck. I called the police to report what was now looking like a hit and run. They went to the parking lot to see if they had cameras. Unfortunately for me, they did not.

The car was fine to drive, but it was all dented up including the two side doors. They really did a number on it before they fled the scene. My car is paid for, so I knew I wanted to have it fixed. The idea of buying a new car in 2022 is not a fun thought. I called my insurance company, and they started the claim process. They were very helpful and even suggested an auto body shop within a mile from my home. I drove to the shop to inquire about having my car repaired.

As I entered the parking area, I noticed a large modern building. It was impressive. I walked inside to find a beautiful office with two young ladies sitting at a long counter facing me. Neither of them spoke to me. One was looking at her phone and the other was apparently waiting for me to speak to her. I decided to wait her out and just stood there. Finally, she reluctantly said, “Can I help you?” At that moment I felt her helping me was the last thing that was going to happen. I said, “Yes, my insurance company recommended you. My car was involved in an accident.” She picked up the phone and after a brief exchange with someone, she told me the owner would be out to help me. See, I was right, she was not going to be helping me at all.

A moment later a man appeared next to me. He never introduced himself or asked my name. Apparently, no handshake or introduction was necessary in his eyes. We walked outside together. He took a quick look at my car and said, “Since it is drivable, I won’t be able to get it in for at least 2 months.” He also asked what my deductible was. He asked for the claim number and told me once the car comes into his shop, I would have to plan to get a rental car. It all felt pretty standard to me. Then he took out his wallet and removed a very exciting looking business card with a fancy car on it. He handed me the card and said he would be in touch. He never told me his name. He never asked for my name. He never once, from the time he walked over to talk to me until he walked away, made eye contact with me. I went back inside one last time to see when he might be in touch with me, and he said, “soon.” The useless women at the counter never said hello or goodbye, so I just walked out.

As I was driving my wrecked car home, I called my longtime friend, Bobby, to vent about this place. He immediately said, “You need to call my buddy, Tony, at Euro Auto Body.” So, I did.      

Tony told me to stop in whenever it was convenient for me. The next day I drove over to my old stomping grounds of West Warwick. Euro is located at 939 Main Street, right next to where “the old Almacs used to be.” I pulled in the parking lot and walked inside the front door. I was immediately greeted by the owner, Tony Magliolo. He smiled, extended his hand and introduced himself. At that moment I knew I would not be returning to the other shop. In sharp contrast from my visit to the previous shop, along with other bad experiences in the past, Tony told me to relax and let him handle everything. He told me the day I drop off the car, a rental will be in his driveway for me to use until the work is complete.

Euro Auto Body Owner, Tony Magliolo

I felt like I should call the first shop I had visited and let them know I made other arrangements to have my car fixed. I called the shop and the first thing the girl did was yawn into the phone. You really can’t make this stuff up. I told her I was originally bringing my car in for some work, but I had made other arrangements. She said, “Ok.” I said, “Do you want to know my name?” She said, “Ok.” So, I told her my name, nearly laughing at this point. I told her yawning into the phone when she picks it up is horrible customer service, and I hung up.

Tony completed the work on my car in the time frame he said it would be. There were no surprises. I was not stuck with a rental bill. He simply did exactly what he said he was going to do. When I came to pick up my car, I noticed a car in the driveway that looked similar to mine but was much nicer. I thought, “I wish that was my car.” I walked by and noticed the exact same Harley Davidson sticker in the back window.

It was my car! It looked like brand new. The entire car was detailed inside and out. The tires were shining. The rims were sparkling. The interior never looked better. I mean, they detailed my car from top to bottom, inside and out. I was completely blown away at the job they did on my vehicle. When Tony came outside, I almost hugged him. I was so happy. I kept saying, “I can’t believe the job you did on my car,” over and over again. I was very animated and enthusiastic delivering my message to him. Tony was calm but smiling. He said, “I get this reaction a lot.” I found that very easy to believe.

Customer service is a lost art. It really is. Just walk in any Dunkin’ or CVS or Stop n Shop or anywhere for that matter. It’s just not taught anymore. I was so happy with the way I was treated at Euro Auto Body I asked Tony if I could interview him. He had no idea I was a writer for RINEWSTODAY.COM. I wanted him to tell me the story of his family business. He proceeded to tell me a remarkable story.

The Magliolo family legacy is best described as the American Dream realized the old-fashioned way. The reoccurring message is honesty, loyalty, hard work and a lot of elbow grease.

Enrico and Tony during the 1980s

Tony is 53 years old. He was born in Fornelli, Italy. A small farm town in the mountains about two hours east of Naples. Tony said, “There were 1800 people in the town when we left, and there’s still 1800 people there.” His parents, Enrico (83) and Filomena (74) moved to West Warwick in 1972. Tony was three years old. He is the youngest of two boys. He has an older brother, Maurizio. Tony recalled, “When we first came to America, it took us a long time to go through the proper channels. All four of us had to have our health paperwork. We had to prove we didn’t have any diseases. My father had to have a job waiting for him. We came here legally. Within three or four days of coming to America, my father was working. My parents didn’t speak English. We spoke Italian in the house. We didn’t have any health insurance. My father worked hard. Nothing was free. Nothing was handed to us. We didn’t have food stamps.

My father was a body man in Italy and continued in that line of work here. He worked for Jake Kaplan’s Jaguar. He always had two to three jobs. All he did was body work. I never saw my father. If I wanted to see him, I’d have to go to his second or third job because he was always working. He was also very happy to work.

In the early eighties my father bought a small garage in the Hope section of Scituate. People started bringing him all this work and he needed a bigger place. Originally the business was called Enrico’s Auto Body. He opened in 1981. It was located in the Arctic section of West Warwick. I started working there when I was six years old. I wasn’t an employee, but I was learning how to sand cars and tape them up. It was just me and my dad. My brother wasn’t interested in the business. My father taught me early. Back then we had to sand by hand and polish by hand. I learned everything by watching him. I asked a lot of questions. The garage could only hold about six cars, so in 1989, we bought this building. We have been here ever since.” Tony said, “My parents had a plan. To come here, but eventually move back to Italy. The plan changed. My father will tell you, ‘Once you live in the United States of America, you never want to live anywhere else.’”

I asked Tony why the company is called Euro. He said, “Back in the day, when my father first started, he worked on Ferraris, Lamborghinis. Porsches, Jaguars, BMWs, and Mercedes-Benz. They were what we call High Line cars. So that is where the name came from. As time went on, we evolved. I knew we had to work on all types of cars. When we were located in Arctic, we had all these beautiful cars lined up in the shop. It was pretty neat.” Euro Auto Body has been in business now for over four decades. They continue to thrive because of the quality work they do, while providing unparalleled customer service. I can personally attest to that.

Euro Auto Body 2022

Tony explained, “My father retired in 2000. He stopped working full time. The part of the building we are in now wasn’t even here. I was young at the time. My father’s equipment was older. He was old school. So, I told him I was going to buy some brand-new equipment and put an addition on the building. My father thought I was crazy. He told me, ‘You’re going to go bankrupt. Are you nuts?’ I borrowed $250,000. Then my mother got involved and told my father to let me do what I wanted to do. I had a vision. I knew where this company could be. I wanted new, modern equipment. I wanted a new, modern building. I bought a brand-new state of the art spray booth. I bought a brand-new state of the art frame machine. Brand new welding equipment. Then I started to hire employees. Up until this point it was just me and my father. I knew what I wanted to do, and I made it happen.

We are constantly changing and evolving with the times. With new vehicles my guys are always learning. We do a lot of training.” I just sat and listened to Tony talk. He was not arrogant or cocky in telling his story. He was simply telling me what happened. He took a small family business to another level. I did not interview Enrico but I’m guessing he is extremely proud of his son and what he has accomplished.

Today, Euro Auto Body has ten full time employees. Tony went on to explain how the business has changed over the years. He said, “Back then, you really didn’t need many tools to work on cars. With a basic set of tools, you could take a car apart. Now it’s all electronics. You have radar censors, parking sensors, crash avoidance systems, cameras and other electronic devices. We need to know how to install and work on all of these systems.” Quite a long way from the days of using red lead and primer. Tony continued, “The training involved is on a yearly basis. Every employee has to take certain courses. Everyone here has a role. One person does not do everything anymore. It’s just too complicated. Everything is done in stages. A body man takes the car apart and does all the structural work. They dismantle it. Then it goes to the painter who has a guy who sands, primes and masks it all up. Then he mixes the colors. Gets the colors right, and paints. Then from there it goes to the detailer who sands and buffs the imperfections. Then it goes to a body man who reassembles it. The process today is very complicated. I feel a person needs to have a minimum ten years’ experience to really know what they are doing. It takes that long before I will leave them to work on their own.”

Tony and his wife, Lynn, reside in Coventry. They are the proud parents of twin boys, Lorenzo and Dante. They are ten years old. I asked Tony if his children spend time at the shop, like he did as a kid. He said, “They do. They’re interested. I’m slowly introducing them here a little at a time. I think kids today are not as ready to work or ready to learn.

My father said at five years old I was already a grown up. Kids today have so many distractions I didn’t have as a kid. We had three channels on TV, and I was lucky if I had a peddle bike. I wanted to be out of the house. I wanted to be in my father’s shop. I went to school and then right to the shop. That was it. Kids today are not as focused because they are doing so many different things. When we came here from Italy, we were poor. I wanted to help my father. Even at six, I wanted to make money. I wanted to buy baseball cards or whatever. I was more than ready to work.”

The Magliolo Family

Tony would like everyone in need of auto body repair work to know this about his company. He said, “This is a business, but I treat my customers like friends. We get the job done right the first time. We want to keep our customers happy. We treat people with respect. Yes, at the end of the job we get a check, but its really not about that to me. Over the years I have made countless friends that started out as customers. My wife will tell you, anywhere we go, the supermarket, Home Depot, on vacation, I run into a customer. I like that, because if I were to run into someone who was not a satisfied customer, they probably wouldn’t talk to me. This is personal to me. Its not just about getting a paycheck. Treating people right and making them happy is really important to me. I’m here six days a week. At 83, my father still works here part time. Before I had kids, I was here seven days a week. That’s what my father did. That’s how I grew up. Seeing him work.

Once my children were born, I wanted to spend more time with my family.” Tony added, “The way I treat people, and my work ethic, were passed along to me by my father. I learned everything from him. Even though I don’t have to physically be in the shop anymore, I’m still out there because I love it. I just love to work. When I’m out there, (pointing towards his shop filled with cars), I’m happy. When my employees see me out there with them, working, they’re happy, too. We work together out there. A lot of times when I’m in the shop I’ll ask my guys, ‘what do you want me to do?’. I feel equal to my guys. I want them to feel equal to me. I don’t want people feeling under pressure or upset at work. I will always be a body man at heart. I love to work on cars.”

I can tell you from personal experience that customer service is alive and well at Euro Auto Body.

For more information on Euro Auto Body visit them at 928 Main Street, West Warwick. You can also check them out on Facebook or online at euroautobodyri.com. You can also contact Tony by email at euroautobody.ri.com or call (401) 823-1790.

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Brendan Higgins, writer and author, RIPTA bus driver, former professional wrestler (Knuckles Nelson), and North Kingstown resident.

We welcome Brendan as a contributing writer to RINewsToday.

To read a story about Brendan, from our sports department, go to: https://rinewstoday.com/knuckles-nelson-waking-up-from-the-wrestling-ring-to-the-yoga-mat-john-cardullo/

To read all stories by Brendan, here, go to: https://rinewstoday.com/brendan-higgins/

Higgins is the author of “Waking Up: From the Wrestling Ring to the Yoga Mat”

2 Comments

  1. Vincent Marzullo on July 7, 2022 at 12:44 pm

    I’ve been a friend and extremely satisfied customer to Tony/Euro Autobody. He’s all you described – a caring, professional.

    • Nancy Thomas on July 7, 2022 at 1:54 pm

      Looks like many will have a new resource!

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