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Old 01-09-2013, 02:20 PM
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auto body repair? would you do it again

hey everyone im sure this isn't the right place to ask but i want to ask anyone who has or is working in auto collision repair (autobody man) how is the career? is it stressful? ******y bosses? long hours? pay? enjoyable? satisfying? job security? advancing? do you hate cars now? i know that every career has its up and down but i really would love to hear your answers. my final question is ultimately if you were 23 years old would you pursue this career again or would you choose a different career?

your answers will greatly appreciated. thank you and have a wonderful day.
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Old 01-09-2013, 06:54 PM
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If I had it to do over again. NO. I got out of it years ago. Because at the time, paint products/technology were changing rapidly and causing problems to the end user.

So many variables and labor intensive. More so back then as a lot more "bodywork" was done. Not just panel replacement. Insurance companies.. That was a story in itself..
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Old 01-09-2013, 07:08 PM
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I am young relatively speaking but I have about 15 years in this kind of work now. We do everything from insurance work, collision repair, to frame off restorations and everything in between. I personally love it. I like the challenges it presents, the feeling of accomplishment when you know you have touched every bolt in a car and it looks better than it did new. It has its days and some things can be aggravating but you have to just walk away and come back. If you think it is something you want to do I say go for it. Good luck if you do.

Kelly
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Old 01-09-2013, 07:22 PM
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I should also add that I worked with my dad until I saved up the money to go out on my own. It is a bit more stressful and there is more to keep up with, but I wouldn't change it for anything. IF you can do bodywork and metal repair/fabrication or learn to do so, instead of being a school trained parts changer, you will be in high demand because a lot of parts are not available for some older cars and have to be made. There are a lot of people who can buy and change parts, but very few that have the talent and ability to actually repair something. There are several very skilled people on this forum and a wealth of knowledge to be gained from them. I try to learn something everyday when I log on. Always be willing to learn and remember that there is always someone who has done more than you, better than you have done it. One last word of advice, even though the customer may not own the car forever your name will be on the work forever, so always do work and repairs that you can be proud of and that will last for years to come. It only takes one bad job to ruin your reputation. Best of luck if you decide to go this route.

Kelly
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Old 01-09-2013, 07:59 PM
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"my final question is ultimately if you were 23 years old would you pursue this career again or would you choose a different career?"

HELL NO, not even maybe. Straight up, don't do it, you'd make more money at Denny's or McDonald's, literally.

Autobody is a sunset industry on the back end of the 'bell curve', it is nearly as obsolete as buggy whips. It will take 5 years hands-on and $50,000 minimun in tools before anyone treats you as anything besides the shop mule or a trainee. That's after-taxes take home pay, (add sales tax - you're the end user). That's everything YOU don't ever get to do, Disney World, Vegas, ski trip to Aspen, ect.

5 years AND $50,000 is a colledge degree, it's also buying a few fixer-upper homes to turn-and-burn, rent them back to section 8 housing for guaranteed money and rate increases, or any other thing you want to do for a paycheck.

As a hobby it's fun, as a job it is actually the bottom of the barrel, don't do it.
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Old 01-09-2013, 08:25 PM
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I'm with Kelly, it has been a wonderful living for me and my family.

I went to work full time at a bodyshop one week after graduating high school in 1977. Getting Married in 1979 (first wife) and she never had to work, my forever wife whom I married in 91, never had to work. And we live in the SF bay area, it ain't cheap here. I own a home and pay my bills and save a little all on my income, so yes you can make decent money.

But aside from the money, I honestly can compare it with an actor or someone else in the arts, I have enjoyed what I do for a living for 35 years. I have not limited myself to one part of it, I have done most everything in the industry from used car junk work, full on restoration and custom, paint and body, late model collision, parts sales for a year (couldn't make good money but I loved it) a paint rep where I traveled here and there and had a territory that covered a good part of California including up in the redwood country of the northern areas. I owned a shop, estimated, everything. I have been at the same very large family owned shop for the past 12 years with 8 in the shop three in the office and now a year or so as the partsman. This is a very large shop where we do about 3.5 $million a year in sales. I am open to learning anything new and because of this I could go anywhere in the country and find a job, in a heart beat.

One of my friends who left high school and went right into law enforcement retired, I am ten years away from that. I was talking to another old friend of mine who had also went into law enforcement and when I was telling him how I should have went into law enforcement too (we studied the subject together) he said I couldn't be more wrong. He told me "our friend was retired after 35 years of cleaning vomit out of the back of his patrol car, at seeing the world in the worse possible light, at seeing mothers beat up in front of their children. While you have enjoyed what you do, you have made show cars, you have won awards, you have traveled, you have fixed peoples cars when they were in a very bad time, made things better for them. Brian he said, you have enjoyed the last 35 years and if you need to work 10 more so what, you enjoy it, you are the lucky one, I wish I would have done that."

And I know he is right, I have really enjoyed it, every day of it. One of the greatest things that ever happen to me was meeting someone at a shop near mine when I was in my twenties who enlightened me on protecting my body. I wish I could find her now, I have tried but can't, I owe her a lot. I am as healthy as a horse (thank God) because I protected myself from the harmful things we work with. And I am damn thankful my mom bought me that spray gun for a graduation present.

Brian
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Old 01-09-2013, 08:41 PM
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If you want money and less dust go production. If you'll take less and deal with dust just so can see your creations shine than go restoration. Big hits are fun in production but hearing insurance people and estimators talk is annoying. Restoration is a lot funner and less people with suits and ties.
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Old 01-09-2013, 09:01 PM
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Would you be a bodyman ?

If you dream about cars , spend every penny you get on cars , save up for weeks to buy a junker then go into the car business. If the Idea of taking something ratty and worn out and making it new pervades your thinking, then do it . As you can see , youre going to get many different answers. If you work at a good shop and get a good boss , youll do well . You get paid for what you get done , not by the hour , so if youre fast you can rock and roll , you can make money. If you dont and havnt lived and breathed cars as long as you can remember , sell insurance or swing a hammer but you gotta, work anyway !
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Old 01-09-2013, 09:08 PM
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One thing else to consider.

When I took an early retirement offer from At&T I had several people wanting me to build cars for them. I had the shop space and decided that I would do restoration work for a living. I was never without work and was never cheated out of a dime ....BUT......In less than a year I lost all interest in my own cars. I realized that I could have a career or I could have a hobby but could not have both. I went to work at a heavy truck dealer and went back to playing with my cars for fun.

There are a few people who can work on a customer's car all day and go home and work on there own but they are few and far between. There are also guys who would just as soon work on a customer's car as their own.

For me, My old cars and my social life are all tied together and I don't want to turn it into a living. There definitely is a demand for good technicians. Unfortunately not many of them are earning what they deserve.

John L
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Old 01-09-2013, 09:17 PM
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I know one thing, this industry is NOT going anywhere! Some dude in India isn't going to fix Mrs. Smith's Lexus that she wrecked over the weekend.

Brian
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Old 01-09-2013, 09:31 PM
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I know one thing, this industry is NOT going anywhere! Some dude in India isn't going to fix Mrs. Smith's Lexus that she wrecked over the weekend.

Brian
That is true. On the other hand I laid my Harley down last summer when I man made a U turn in front of me. The replacement fairing came prepainted from the factory. Maybe this time 10 years from now those bumper covers may be molded in factory color.

John L
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Old 01-09-2013, 10:03 PM
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It's been talked about for years, it won't happen. For that matter, Volvo bumper covers have came painted for a long time but that is actually dying off. Think about the stock! How much more room would you need to stock all the colors of all the bumpers compared to just a few of each bumper?

No John, the cars are getting more complex and higher skilled technicians are getting more and more important. Believe me, we have a variety of skills at the shop and there are a couple of guys who are NEVER going to see a complex hit on one of these late model cars, they just couldn't handle it.

With all the different metals and welding needed, and the electronics, holy crap! Just today I had a car leaving and the windows wouldn't work from the drivers door. All that had been done was one rear door panel had been removed. But the windows wouldn't work. I had to reset each window. That of course is just a tiny issue but it's an example. SRS systems, accident avoidance systems. Heck we had an Infiniti G35 that the ABS was messed up because we put a different brand tire than it had from the factory!

It won't be long you will need a college degree to work on these things. It ain't the old hammer and dolly work anymore.

As far as restoration or collision, you make of it what you want to make of it. Personally, I look at doing collision repair on a 2012 Ford Focus the same as restoration on a 1958 Ford Fairlane. If you "restore" that Focus with the same passion as you would a vintage car for the concourse judges it is just as fun. That is how I look at collision repair. I love creating something that didn't exist yesterday, custom work is awesome. But if you don't have any at the time, putting the same passion into a Prius works for me.

Brian
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Old 01-09-2013, 10:10 PM
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I just re read my above post and decided it may be a little out of line. I believe Brian is correct that the skilled auto body tech will always have a job. There will always be a need for intelligent skilled people who can work with their hands. That will apply to many trades whether they are body men, trimmers, plumbers or carpenters. Years ago it was an apprentice's dream to learn a trade and someday own a business of his own. It is just so difficult for a small business owner to overcome the costs and regulations of doing business and have enough left to pay for health insurance and all the other expenses. I am very skeptical of what the future holds for a small business owners. I told a friend not too long ago who owns his own business, "I admire you but I sure don't envy you".

I was practically a high school drop out. Joined the Navy at 17 and was blessed to have worked for 2 large companies and retire from both. Not many young men without a college degree will be as blessed as I have been. In the years to come good jobs with benefits will become harder and harder to find.

John L
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Old 01-09-2013, 10:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MARTINSR View Post
It's been talked about for years, it won't happen. For that matter, Volvo bumper covers have came painted for a long time but that is actually dying off. Think about the stock! How much more room would you need to stock all the colors of all the bumpers compared to just a few of each bumper?

No John, the cars are getting more complex and higher skilled technicians are getting more and more important. Believe me, we have a variety of skills at the shop and there are a couple of guys who are NEVER going to see a complex hit on one of these late model cars, they just couldn't handle it.

With all the different metals and welding needed, and the electronics, holy crap! Just today I had a car leaving and the windows wouldn't work from the drivers door. All that had been done was one rear door panel had been removed. But the windows wouldn't work. I had to reset each window. That of course is just a tiny issue but it's an example. SRS systems, accident avoidance systems. Heck we had an Infiniti G35 that the ABS was messed up because we put a different brand tire than it had from the factory!

It won't be long you will need a college degree to work on these things. It ain't the old hammer and dolly work anymore.

As far as restoration or collision, you make of it what you want to make of it. Personally, I look at doing collision repair on a 2012 Ford Focus the same as restoration on a 1958 Ford Fairlane. If you "restore" that Focus with the same passion as you would a vintage car for the concourse judges it is just as fun. That is how I look at collision repair. I love creating something that didn't exist yesterday, custom work is awesome. But if you don't have any at the time, putting the same passion into a Prius works for me.

Brian
LOL I see we were both typing replies at the same time. I do agree with you 100%

John L
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Old 01-09-2013, 10:28 PM
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Originally Posted by MARTINSR View Post
It's been talked about for years, it won't happen. For that matter, Volvo bumper covers have came painted for a long time but that is actually dying off. Think about the stock! How much more room would you need to stock all the colors of all the bumpers compared to just a few of each bumper?

No John, the cars are getting more complex and higher skilled technicians are getting more and more important. Believe me, we have a variety of skills at the shop and there are a couple of guys who are NEVER going to see a complex hit on one of these late model cars, they just couldn't handle it.

With all the different metals and welding needed, and the electronics, holy crap! Just today I had a car leaving and the windows wouldn't work from the drivers door. All that had been done was one rear door panel had been removed. But the windows wouldn't work. I had to reset each window. That of course is just a tiny issue but it's an example. SRS systems, accident avoidance systems. Heck we had an Infiniti G35 that the ABS was messed up because we put a different brand tire than it had from the factory!

It won't be long you will need a college degree to work on these things. It ain't the old hammer and dolly work anymore.

As far as restoration or collision, you make of it what you want to make of it. Personally, I look at doing collision repair on a 2012 Ford Focus the same as restoration on a 1958 Ford Fairlane. If you "restore" that Focus with the same passion as you would a vintage car for the concourse judges it is just as fun. That is how I look at collision repair. I love creating something that didn't exist yesterday, custom work is awesome. But if you don't have any at the time, putting the same passion into a Prius works for me.

Brian
I got passion for a Prius, if it's a gravy job.
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