Almost exactly one year after a fire destroyed the entire building, Neet’s Auto Body, a longtime car collision repair shop in Clifton Park, has reopened.
The shop on Route 9 has been out of operation since the fire, which caused the building's roof to collapse. The new shop is 12,500 square feet, which is more than double the size of the old shop.
There are 18 parking spaces as well as an office in the shop. The larger shop, said owner Tim Neet, provides more room to work on a larger number of cars, and will in general increase efficiency. The new shop is also outfitted with the most modern tools, he said.
As the Neet family, as well as local elected officials, stood inside the cavernous garage of the gleaming new shop on Thursday afternoon, many of them remarking on the efficiency and speed with which the family began to work toward getting the business back on its feet.
“After all the things that have happened, we’ve risen from the ashes,” Pete Bardunias, senior vice president of community advancement at the Capital Region Chamber said to Neet and his family just before cutting a ribbon to signify the official opening of the shop.
“You turned a tragedy into something unbelievably positive,” state Sen. Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville, said at the event. Tedisco also lauded the Neet family for continuing to run a small local business after generations, despite the difficulties of doing so.
State Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh, R-Ballston, thanked Neet for his dedication in rebuilding his business from the ground up in the wake of what might have seemed to others like an insurmountable setback.
As friends, family and business associates gathered in the garage, which was already filled with cars to be worked on, a massive America flag draped on one wall and the twisted remnants of a piece of metal from a car destroyed in the fire on another, owner Tim Neet said the rebuild effort had been the result of endless hours of teamwork, not just his own dedication.
Everyone, he said, from employees to other local businesses, and especially the Clifton Park Planning Board, had a hand in making the rebuild quick and efficient.
“They worked well with me to get me through a very tough process,” Neet said.
Rachel Neet, Tim Neet’s wife and co-owner of the shop, agreed that there had been no period of waiting or pause prior to making the decision to rebuild. The night of the fire, she said, she and her husband sat on their couch quietly absorbing what had just happened, but also talking about their next steps.
Her husband, she said, had been ready to move forward the very next day.
“He’s always been a go-getter.”
While she called the fire experience “surreal,” she noted that out of the tragedy came the opportunity to not only enhance already existing plans to expand the business, but outfit the entire operation with the tools and equipment necessary to keep Neet's at the peak of car repair for the foreseeable future.
“We’re so excited to be back in business,” she said. “This is the latest and greatest.”