Boulder City is well-known for its commitment to history. The city is also home to a number of long time businesses that have served residents and visitors for decades. In this series, we’ll talk with the owners of the oldest businesses in town about their history and secrets to their success.
Jacob Williams opened B&J Body Shop in 1962 when he decided to work for himself full time. The “B” in B&J is subject of some dispute; Jacob opened the business as sole owner, but his wife was named Barbara. However, Jacob himself stated that the reason for the “B” was because he wanted to be near the beginning of the Yellow Pages (Note to younger readers: Yellow Pages were telephone directories of businesses).
After his military service, Jacob and Barbara made their home in Cedar City, UT, where Jacob worked on automobiles. This was a brief period as Jacob decided he’d rather not work in a location where snow was a frequent occurrence (we can’t say we blame him!). The couple relocated to Boulder City. Prior to opening his own business, Jacob worked for Community Chevrolet, which is now known as Fairway Chevrolet.
At the time he started business, all functions of the business were generated out of one building, an old church building, including the office and paint shop. There was a sign on the building that proclaimed, “We Occupy This Entire Building” and that was most obviously true when Jacob painted a vehicle for a customer. Because the office was also the paint booth, all of the paperwork would be covered with the customer’s choice of paint! As the business grew and evolved, additional buildings and structures were added.
Charles Williams, one of five children, was born in Boulder City and grew up here. The family first lived at Avenue L and Wyoming Street, before moving to a home on Don Vincente Drive. He began working for his father at a young age, sweeping out the shop and picking up trash. Charles was an industrious child who always had a variety of jobs or “irons in the fire” as he referred to it. He mowed lawns and built bicycles, among other things. It was expected that the children would work in the business at some point in their lives and Charles’s two brothers and two sisters also helped with the family business, as did his mother.
Once he graduated from Boulder City High School, he attended Utah Technical College in Provo, UT where he pursued a degree in business management. He studied accounting, business management, marketing, and more. He graduated in June 1980 and returned to home to Boulder City. He hadn’t planned to go back to work with his father, but he didn’t have another job lined up yet so he figured he could work there temporarily until he found another position. That was 43 years ago! In the late 1990s, Charles took over complete management of the business when his father retired. Jacob passed away in 2014 and Barbara passed away in 2022.
The original building constructed on the property no longer exists, but a number of structures have replaced it. There is a separate paint and shop area so the office is no longer covered in paint! The two story office structure currently occupies the space of the original all-in-one space. Charles, like his father before him, takes great pride in the excellent customer service they’ve provided to the community for the past 62 years. “Reputation is everything,” Charles told us during a recent visit. He noted that seeing his customers on a regular basis – whether at the grocery store, church, children’s sporting events and the like – is an impetus to ensure that he goes above and beyond for them. Furthermore, he noted that each of his employee’s represent him as well, so he chooses them carefully.
Charles noted that he’s had a number of mentors, including his father, over the years that he’s tried to emulate. Being willing to sacrifice is critical to success in business, Charles told us. Having a strong faith in God and supportive family, B&J Body Shop has been able to provide needed services to customers for six decades. He also credits the Boulder City community for continuing to make his business successful. The positive word of mouth and recommendations from customers have helped sustain the company over the years.
In addition to the routine jobs like mashed fenders and new paint jobs, B&J Body Shop has also had its share of interesting projects. The ice cream cone outside Grandma Daisy’s on Nevada Way was one of the interesting jobs they’ve had. They also bid on and won a contract with New York New York Hotel and Casino on The Strip in Las Vegas to repaint the hotel’s famed rollercoasters. This project was almost a year long endeavor as the trains had to be taken out of service one at a time.
In addition to his own long term business, Charles said he really admired the Rants and Doty families who owned and operated Rants Plumbing and Boulder Auto Parts, respectively. Obviously they all share some common business acumen since they’ve all managed to remain in business for multiple decades. Boulder City is lucky to have a small business owner like Charles Williams who has contributed so much to the business community. In addition to his work at his shop, he is also current President of Boulder Business Development, Boulder City’s premier business networking group and a Lions Club chapter.
B&J Body Shop is located at its original location, 1512 Boulder City Parkway. The telephone number is (702) 293-1140 and you can find their website HERE. We thank Charles for his time in granting us an interview and wish him continued success!
We’d also like to thank Boulder City Hoover Dam Museum for some of the photos used for illustration purposes. To see more historical pics of B&J Auto Body, you can visit the Museum’s online hub HERE.