PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Icahn Automotive Group L.L.C.has reopened its Pep Boys Auto Service & Tire Center in Panama City more than a year after the store suffered significant damage in Hurricane Michael.
The Category 5 storm destroyed the store's bay doors and large sections of the roof, as well as the store's windows and exterior, the company said. Another nearby location was damaged beyond repair.
The renovated location now has 12 service bays with new equipment, additional car lifts and a new waiting area with customer amenities.
"The reopening of the Panama City Pep Boys shows our commitment to serving customers, and it's also a representation of the heart and resilience of the community," Brian Kaner, CEO-Service, Icahn Automotive, said.
"Thank you to our employees and customers who stuck by each other during and after the storm. The decision to rebuild in Panama City and be a part of the recovery effort was an easy one."
After the storm, the company organized relief efforts, sending two Pep Boys Mobile Crew state-of-the-art services trailers to help with storm-related repairs, including the many tires flat from nails and storm debris. Pep Boys professionals — some brought in from other locations, but many who were facing personal storm-related challenges as well — worked to fix up to 70 cars on some days, according to the company.
The Pep Boys Mobile Crew stayed on 23rd Street for 14 months, performing work in the trailer's service bay and in the adjacent lot, the company said.
"We came together as a team to help each other and rebuild this store bigger and better, and the company showed how much it cares for our team and our city," Clinnon Harden, Pep Boys area director, said.
"Our customers are telling us they are so happy to have Pep Boys back at full strength, and we are excited to be able to serve them even better than before."
The company said that right after the storm, Pep Boys employees organized to help the community, including hosting a barbecue.
Two dozen employees from Port Richey, Fla., worked with their local community to collect supplies, eventually sending a 26-foot truck of supplies to Panama City. A corporate giving drive organized for Hurricane Michael relief brought monetary donations from across the country into the Icahn Automotive Team Member Charitable Fund, enabling the fund to give affected team members grants for emergency funds and rebuild efforts, the company said.
"While the storm was devastating, it brought out the best in our people and their neighbors, as events like this often do. We are proud of our team members who gave generously and worked so hard to help others," Mr. Kaner said.
There are nearly 1,000 Pep Boys service centers in 35 states and Puerto Rico. Pep Boys is part of Icahn Automotive, which, together with national and regional service providers such as AAMCO, Precision Tune and Jacksonville-based RPM Automotive, is one of the nation's largest service networks.