Joe Drago and his daughter Lauren play important roles at Mike’s Auto Body and are truly valued members of our team. Joe is the manager at our San Ramon facility and Lauren is in charge of our Accounts Receivable and works out of our headquarters in Concord VDM.
The family atmosphere at Mike’s is undeniable and if you don’t believe it, ask Joe and Lauren. By stressing quality and keeping their standards high, they’re prime examples of our company motto, “Where Quality Counts.”
After graduating from high school, Lauren attended Stanislaus State for 1.5 years before she took a break. “I decided to take a semester off and my father told me to get a job,” she said.
Shortly thereafter, Lauren went on the company cruise with her dad and had the opportunity to hang out with many of our employees. Several of them encouraged her to apply for a job and three months after leaving college, she was a temporary employee at Mike’s. After a short time, she became a permanent employee and has accepted more responsibility along the way.
“I’ve learned more working here at Mike’s than I ever would in college,” Lauren said. “The training here is amazing and the people are some of the best in the industry. They promote from within the company and reward people for doing a good job.”
Today, Lauren wears several hats for us, assisting HR Manager Michelle Sardi and Accounts Payable Melissa Pryor. She also works with new hires and supervises the company’s I-CAR (Inter-Industry Conference of Auto Collision Repair) training program.
“My job is to make sure that our employees (technicians, estimators, painters, and managers) are up-to-date on all of their training and that all of our locations maintain their I-CAR Gold Status. Only the best body shops in the country can achieve the Gold ranking, so it requires a lot of work and ongoing training to keep that rating.
When Lauren is not working, she likes to spend time with my family and cooking, and online shopping “for things I don’t need.”
Joe Drago has more than 32 years of industry experience altogether and has been working for Mike’s since 2013. His journey to a career in collision repair started with a job on the insurance side of the business as an adjuster. Then he was hired as an estimator at a shop in San Francisco, that eventually led to managing a body shop in San Leandro for many years.
“My father was an insurance adjuster, so I decided to try it, and then I started working at a shop,” Joe said. “Back then, we wrote estimates by hand, which is hard to believe now. I wanted to learn as much as I could with every job, I had in the collision repair industry and I had some great teachers to help me.”
Seven years ago, Joe was hired by Mike’s to manage our Lafayette location and then one year later he worked with the team to open the San Ramon location. He enjoys managing people and helping customers to return their vehicles back to their pre-accident condition.
Why is Mike’s so successful within an industry that is changing at an incredible rate? “The Rose Family is not afraid to grow and we work very well with our insurance partners through our DRPs (Direct Repair Partnerships),” Joe said. “We also pride ourselves in doing high-quality repairs and our customer service is incredible.”
Joe has seen the collision repair industry change literally overnight, he said, so adapting and staying on top of the newest technology is a challenge. “I’ve seen more changes in this business within the last five years when compared to the entire time that I’ve been doing this. These newer vehicles require new repair processes, and that’s why OE procedures and certifications are a bigger deal now. The whole game has changed dramatically and staying on top of it all is more important than ever.”
When Joe isn’t working and managing his crew in San Ramon, he enjoys playing golf with his buddies and chilling with the family.
One particular topic that both Lauren and Joe wanted to communicate is the fact that they appreciate and respect Mike’s Benevolence Program, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary.
“Customers mention our Benevolence Program all the time and we have a reputation for being a company that cares about people,” Joe said.
“They are so giving it rubs off on everyone here,” Lauren added. “The spirit of giving is contagious and a huge part of what we all do here at Mike’s Auto Body.”