Aging fleet bringing new business to body shops

Lucas Deal June 17, 2014

Have you ever considered building a body shop? If you haven’t, now might be the time.

Adding body shop capabilities to an existing repair facility allows heavy- duty service providers to capitalize on an underserved market with increasing demand, says Don Putney with Collision Equipment Experts.

“There aren’t a ton of businesses out there offering heavy-duty [body shop] service,” he says. “So many service facilities are started by technicians … and they are so focused on what they are doing mechanically they don’t really think about the body shop side [of service].”

Customers love the concept of one- stop shopping, but very few heavy-duty service providers truly offer it.

Dave Chandler, president at Chandler Services, Inc. in Mokena, Ill., says that’s one of the reasons his business entered the body shop business in 2013.

“We wanted to be able to cover all the bases for our customers,” says Chandler. “We’ve been in the truck repair business for 32 years, but [body shop service] was one area we had not entered.”

Chandler says he started considering body shop service when he noticed growing concern among his customers’ with their current body shops.

They didn’t enjoy relying on multiple shops for different areas of service.

“We had one customer in particular who was very vocal,” Chandler says. “They told us we were doing everything else and if we also did that [body work], it would make it easier on them.”

Body shops also offer service providers an opportunity to capitalize on a recent insurance trend to fix, not total, crashed trucks.

“I think we’re going to see a whole lot more of that down the road,” says Greg Witt, vice president of operations for Virginia Truck Centers in Harrisonburg and Richmond, Va. “With these new engines being so much more expensive, it makes sense.”

He adds, “For a while the used truck market dropped and insurance companies were totaling them out, but now their value is coming back up and we’re repairing more of them.”

“I talked to a customer recently who had a truck with more than a million miles get into an accident and he said they were going to get it fixed,” says Doug Edwardsen, national sales manager at Bee-Line. “The cost to repair the truck is less than the price of a new one, so the insurance company wants to get it fixed.”

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