Body Shops To Be Busy For Months

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Scrapes, digs, bumps, even major wrecks.

"$35,000 repair on a brand new Toyota Avalon," said Jack Brown, pointing to the front of a smashed car-- the make and model are unrecognizable.

Auto body shops across Mid-Michigan are slammed. Not only from lots of recent car accidents, but more so from the previous ice storm.

"Small dings, maybe a hood replacement from a branch or tree hitting it--light damage," said Gary Miller, an Auto Body Technician, who's been working on the cars coming into Vision Collision in Grand Ledge.

Miller estimates the shop will be busy repairing damaged cars from the winter storms for about 5 months.

"Our HR guy is interviewing four people today, two people tomorrow," said Brown, the Owner of Vision Collision.

Vision Collision Auto Body opened its Grand Ledge location about two weeks ago. The owner is glad his local company now has five stores.

"It's backed up significantly," said Brown. "Even to get the tow companies to get cars to you, they are so busy clearing the roads, we have not seen all the vehicles come in yet."

Since Christmas Eve, the number of claims at Vision Collision has nearly tripled since the bad weather started. To keep up with demand, the shop is extending its hours and added a sixth work day.

However, the rush isn't just impacting the folks at Vision Collision, it's affecting tow truck companies, auto suppliers, part repair stores--pretty much everyone in the industry.

"We've had parts suppliers have trouble getting parts to us," said Brown. "There is huge demand on the parts-- every body shop in this area, so it's busy. They are all buying the parts and things are tight. You just deal with it."

Mickey Bruns' car got scraped while it sat in a parking lot.

"You pay a lot for insurance, so you like to use it," said Burns, who went to the shop to get an estimate.

Rather than wait, she's getting it fixed as soon as possible.

"Nobody wants to be in an accident," said Brown. "Unfortunately you had a bad situation. We do everything we can to make it better for them, but it is what it is. It is a damaged vehicle and takes time to get all the stuff together and do it right, and we do it as fast as we can."

Auto body workers are in high demand right now, not just because of the accidents. An instructor at LCC said the average age at repair shops is 50 years-old. The industry needs more young graduates to keep repair shops staffed.

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