Rhino Linings Business Awarded
LEOMINSTER — Since they started selling Rhino Linings in 1996, the Carignan family has had the city covered.
On Tuesday, the Carignans’ Rhino Linings of Leominster was recognized as the top dealer in the country for the spray-on protective coating, commonly used in truck beds.
In the heart of the Pioneer Plastics City, the Carignans and their team typically fit 30 vehicles a week with Rhino Linings. The protectant is a rubbery plastic material, made of polyurethane, polyurea and epoxy formulations. The solution is sprayed on vehicles an eighth to a quarter-inch thick, resulting in a tough, black, sandpaper-like coating that prevents scratching and rust.
Rhino Linings has applicators worldwide, and about 600 applicators in the United States, according to the company’s website.
In cloudy 45-degree weather, the Carignan family shivered during a ribbon-cutting ceremony to accept the national Top Applicator award. Two Rhino Linings representatives flew in from New York and California to honor the team. Mayor Dean Mazzarella and Building Commissioner Peter Niall were also in attendance.
“We’re happy and appreciative to the whole team,” Mazzarella said, who lined his truck with the Carignan family in 2007. “It’s as good now as it was when I bought it,” he continued.
“And I didn’t tell him to say that,” joked Owner and General Manager Thomas Carignan.
Thomas Carignan, 59, first heard of Rhino Linings in 1995 while attending an auto body convention in Las Vegas. A year later, he brought the service to his own shop which he operated (and still does) with his wife, Joanne — Imperial Auto Body and Sales, Inc. on Viscoloid Avenue. There, the Carignans sprayed one or two trucks a day out of one bay.
As the linings began to take off, the Carignans moved the service to their other location, E.T. Cote Auto Exchange on 9th Street. And when the service outgrew that space about two and a half years ago, they moved to Rhino Linings of Leominster on Mechanic Street. The four-door garage can fit up to three trucks in the Rhino Linings bay, though the team typically works on just two at a time.
“It’s a family thing with us,” said Joanne Carignan. The oldest of her three children, Christopher Carignan, runs E.T. Cote.
The family’s success is partially due to quality customer service. Christopher Carignan, who is 29 years old, said there are regulars who have been coming to the Carignans for 20 to 25 years.
“Our family [has] three businesses that are just a vital part of Leominster,” Christopher Carignan said.
Rhino Linings of Leominster also has partnerships with between 20 and 30 car dealerships, located as close as down the street and as far as Mendon. If a customer who purchases a vehicle at one of the partner dealerships wants a Rhino Lining, the Leominster team will pick it up, line it, and return it to the dealer.
“We’ve been on a steady increase [in business] for the past five years,” said Jason Blanchard, 31, general manager of the Mechanic Street operation and honorary member of the Carignan family.
The whole process takes about 1 ½ hours per vehicle. Team members suit up in protective suits and face masks, which provide fresh air from venilation hoses that stretch outdoors.
Nearly every inch of the Rhino application bay is caked in the rough, black coating, and rock music plays faintly in the background.
The spray gun, which resembles a fire hose, hangs from the wall by the door. After covering the exterior of a vehicle in plastic, workers typically spray about eight coatings on truck beds, and five or so coatings on the walls.
The service usually costs around $500, with same-day pickup.
Rhino Linings of Leominster also installs New England Undercoat and WeatherTech floor mats. A separate bay with a truck lift is used for applying the noxudol undercoats. According to Blanchard, Leominster fire trucks have been raised on the colossal lift to be treated with undercoat.
Thomas Carignan said that five years ago, Rhino Linings of Leominster was the 200th dealer in the country. Two years ago, he said, they were probably in the 40s. Just last year, they rang in at third.
“We’re just really lucky with it all,” Joanne Carignan said.
Nicole DeFeudis: @Nicole_DeFeudis on Twitter