The name on the birth certificate was Baldassare Ognibene, but to his friends and family, he was simply known as Benny. Born in Rockford in May 1910, Benny used to go to DeCarlo's Garage every day and speak with Chris DeCarlo because of his fascination with auto repair. Chris taught Benny the trade, and by 1931 Benny opened a 6-car garage behind his home on West Street.
Benny and His Work Ethic
With a strong work ethic, Benny kept his shop open 6 days a week. On Sundays after church, Benny would take care of his friends who needed a tune-up or some other minor repairs. In 1949, Benny decided to buy the building owned by Keig-Stevens Baking Company (better known as Colonial Bakery) to handle his growing business.
The 411 South Winnebago Street address remains to this day the home of Benny & Son Body Shop.
Benny's wife Antonia worked alongside him handling the books and chasing down parts orders, while raising their 3 children. Married in July 1930, they were together until Benny passed in 1985.
In 1960, Benny's second son Joe joined the business. Joe ran the body shop while Benny took care of the mechanical side. In 1966, Benny & Sons Garage and Body Shop was incorporated.
About Joe, Benny and Mike
Joe bought the business that had grown to 5000 square feet in 1980, and his oldest son Benny joined the team 2 years later. Benny is now a cheif with the Rockford Fire Department but still works part time at the body shop.
Joe's youngest son, Mike, came on board in 1988 after graduating from college. Mike serves as the body shop's COO and runs the body shop's day-to-day operations. He also is heading up the current expansion plans.
State-Of-The-Art Repair Facility
Benny Ognibene opened his 6-car mechanic business over 71 years ago. Today, it is a state-of-the-art repair facility recognized by its peers as one of the finest collision repair businesses in the country. The 8000 square foot facility is one of Rockford's leaders in consumer safety and trust.
Today, Benny and Mike Ognibene are very proud to call Rockford home and to carry on the vision and values Joe and Benny Ognibene gave them 4 generations ago.