Tech of the Month
I grew up just outside of Boston and I lived in the area until last winter when I moved to south western Tennessee to be closer to the girl who is now my wife. I met her last year while I was working down that way and I fell head over heels in love…like the making-other-people-want-to-puke kind of in love…we got married just a couple months ago and we now travel together for work. Moving from Boston to the deep, deep south was quite the culture shock but it’s been well worth it.
Before PDR I was a foreman for a lightning protection company in Boston. basically what that means is that myself and a small crew of guys climbed all over buildings and different structures installing lightning rods, grounding cables and surge protection in order to keep said buildings and structures from being damaged by lightning strikes. It was fun at times, it paid relatively well and it was definitely challenging. I got to climb some pretty crazy stuff and see my home city from some unique vantage points. After 7 years of it though, I was ready to move onto something else.
A good friend of mine from high school had been pushing door dings for 7 or 8 years for one of the large dent companies. After several years of seeing how much he loved his job I started asking more questions about it and getting really interested. I loved that he was basically on his own most days but still had a good support structure to make sure he got paid for all his hard work. So eventually I took the plunge and went off to St Louis for training. I soon found out that PDR was MUCH harder than it looked. Eventually though, I squeaked by the certification test and became a real-live dent guy. I spent two years working for that company before I decided they weren’t providing me the kind of support they had promised me and that I’d be better off moving to a new market and starting my own one man show as a self-employed route tech.
I started off as a route tech and I did that for 7 years, 2 years for the big company and 5 years on my own. Then early last May I got the opportunity to work a hail storm with some friends of mine who are phenomenal techs and who were willing to help me make the jump from door dinging to full-on hail chasing. They spent a total of two full months training me on the ins and outs of the hail world. It was a great opportunity and I’m proud to say that I took full advantage of it. I was a half decent dent guy when I got there but they really helped me become a very solid hail tech.
What changes do we need in the industry? EDUCATION EDUCATION EDUCATION! Not only do we need better technical training but we as an industry also need a much better understanding of the business side of things. Specifically in regards to the hail world; if more techs understood how to manage money, then I think there’d be a lot less broke dent guys filling spots at poorly bid and poorly brokered deals. I feel PDR Nation has a very good shot at raising the bar and making this kind of knowledge readily understood by more techs.
Due to its steep learning curve, I think that as long as cars are made of metal then PDR should continue to be a lucrative business. Again, if we can raise that bar through education then PDR and PDR techs should be able to maintain or increase their livelihoods for years to come.
Promoting Your PDRN Certification
Tim Rapa of Tailor Made Paintless Dent Repair in Agawam, Massachusetts is using his PDR Nation Certification to the fullest. Tim has been in the PDR Industry since 1998 and working independently since 2007. Tim was certified on January 24, 2014 and is using the tools of the certification to promote himself and his business.
Tim’s market predominantly is route based, servicing various body shops, dealerships, and wholesale vendors. Since he does not have a brick and mortar shop for retail business, Tim utilizes his most well know body shop and largest account for this area of work. Since he began working with this shop he has been able to help them upsell PDR for additional revenue. This also saves their customers money by not sending their cars through the traditional body shop for repairs.
Tim has incorporated the PDR Nation Certified Seal into his logo. It is on his business cards, invoices, flyers, and t-shirts. Tim also has a large banner that hangs on the front of a large carwash and detail center he services as well as having a large poster inside by the register that promotes Tailor Made PDR and Tim’s PDR Nation Certification. Both the PDR Nation Certified and Green Certified seals are displayed on his truck. Tim also sends out mailers to local body shops, dealers, and detailers promoting his business and certification. PDR Nation Certified is also all over Tailor Made PDR’s Facebook page.
I asked Tim how using PDR Nation has helped promote his business. “PDR Nation has helped show that I’m part of a group of techs that care about their trade and want to be held to a higher standard and accountable for the services we perform. In my area, it is very rare that hail hits but it has in the past. I service a very large body shop and I have reassured them that if a storm hits I can call upon fellow PDR Nation Certified techs to have it covered. I let customers know ahead of time about PDR Nation by handing them a review card. I explain to them how they can leave a review when the repair is complete. It’s actually part of the way I sell a repair to customers. They seem to feel more at ease because I’m holding myself accountable.”
Exciting Times for the PDR Industry
In the grand scheme of things, the PDR industry is very young. It was the late 80’s to early 90’s when PDR started to become a widespread service, tools were often homemade, the lighting and reflections used were often times archaic by today’s standards and no one was out there talking business and sharing ideas. This was like the Wild West and all of the original technicians blazed their way through it to help get us where we are today.
Fast forward 25 years or so and we have watched our industry grow from an infant through those awkward teenage years and now to what I’d like to think of as a young adult. The Facebook community of PDR technicians is a very solid tight knit one that I would say for the most part has a very good finger on the pulse of the industry. The purpose of this article is to give everyone else a little view into what some of the great things going on for our industry are right now.
The tools for PDR are really coming into a great era. Not only are the larger companies like Ultra, A-1, Dentgear, and Dentcraft constantly innovating and adding to their already impressive offerings but over the last few years there has been an explosion of specialized tool companies that have sprung up. Carl Stuckey with Dent Specialists International has an entire line of cordless LED lights, Bill Hulett of Pro PDR solutions has not only a great selection of LED lighting but also some great carts and custom tools available, Drew Lechtenberg launched Druz Toolz with some specialty hammers, carbon fiber tools and quite a few other specialty tools that are arguably the best on the market. These are only a few of the most recent innovators and more keep popping up almost monthly.
The business side of PDR is now being talked about freely between techs from all over the world and 2 of them have started the first podcast dedicated to the business side of PDR. Keith Cosentino and “The” Shane Jacks have launched PDRCollege.com and have at the time of writing this 31 episodes of their podcast that is put out weekly. These guys have opened the eyes of hundreds if not thousands of techs to the real business of PDR.
Two of the founding members of PDR Nation, John Highley and Myke Toledo have moved on to a project of their own. Earlier this spring they launched DentTrainer.com as of this writing they have over 170 videos available online to help PDR Technicians learn new techniques and improve their overall skills.
Last but certainly not least PDRNation.org has grown into the largest group of independent PDR technicians united in the pursuit of bettering the industry through continued education, marketing, networking and working with the guidance of our members. We have the largest CSI review system dedicated to only PDR technicians which make our technicians accountable to everyone. Our searchable tech finder continually gets great rankings in online search engines. We are constantly working to add more content, solutions, and benefits to our members.
The PDR industry is really coming into its own and the resources available for technicians now is unlike anything the first PDR technicians could have ever imagined. Take some time and familiarize yourself with all the great offerings I mentioned in this article as well as search out the dozens that I didn’t have space to write about!
Gene Fetty Chairman PDR Nation