PDR Tech of the month Anthony Spencer.
Anthony Spencer, originally from Charleston WV, now lives in Charleston, SC with his wife Vladia and their 2 year old son Oliver. Anthony attended college at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington where he received his business degree in marketing in 1991. Anthony owns his dent company, Dent Dynamics and also manufactures some great tools. He also owns a video editing business called Palmetto Sky Media.
Anthony got his start in PDR through the Dent Wizard franchise in Charlotte in 1993. He was working in the corporate world like you would expect of someone with a business degree in marketing, but truth be told he hated it, until he received a call from his fraternity brother, Dan Allen. Dan told him he had quit his finance job “ To take dents out of cars for these guys that bought this franchise called Dent Wizard in Charlotte.” He first thought Dan was out of his mind until a few months later Dan told him how much he was making and that they were looking to hire more people. So in January of 1993, Anthony went with Damon Mills to the Dent Wizard school in Miami and was trained by Natalio Balderrama, the founder of Dent Wizard from Argentina. The two of them were employees’ number 5 and 6 for the Charlotte franchise. When Anthony left Dent Wizard in 2000, the Charlotte franchise had over 180 employees.
At Dent Wizard, Anthony did route, auction, retail shop, and some hail work. After leaving he spent a short time in Seattle and finally ended up working mobile retail in Charleston, SC. His mobile retail was pretty successful and life was good until the economy tanked in around 2009. He realized he was doing larger and larger dents for the same money; people were getting tighter with their money. In 2010 he received a call again from Dan Allen. Dan tells him DW’s hail team had just blown apart and CSI had rose from the ashes. There was a hail storm in Phoenix and CSI need some techs. Anthony has been doing hail with CSI ever since.
Anthony also manufactures a great slide hammer and the Twin-Tip Knockdown which you can find on his website, www.dentdynamics.com. The slide hammer came from his experience with working his retail business and getting some hail here and there. He was carrying around two slide hammers, one for large, nasty damage and one for hail and smaller dents. He wanted something that was weighted for both types of damage and that’s where the Dent Dynamic’s slide hammer was born. The Twin-Tip Knockdown came from the thought of how he could carry one knockdown that would work for precise high spots as well as crowns. After carrying around two knockdowns for over a decade the Twin-Tip Knockdown was developed. Anthony tells me there will be some modifications to his slide hammer coming soon, so keep your eyes out for the new design.
Anthony’s other passion is in photography and video editing. His interest in photography began in the early 80’s. He remembers working in his father’s grocery stores during the summer and saving every penny to buy the latest and greatest in cameras which, at the time was the Minolta Maxxum 7000. He used that camera as the school yearbook photographer for 3 years. Now, he says you can buy that same camera on Ebay for $30. Several years ago, Anthony really got into video editing. There really wasn’t many people doing it, especially in HD. Along the line he met Myke Toledo and really liked Myke’s style of editing. Anthony and Myke connected more on the video editing than PDR. His wife, Vladia is a publicist and Anthony started doing video editing for her clients. That is where his business Palmetto Sky Media got started and has now evolved and taken on a life of it’s on.
I asked Anthony about his vision for the future of the PDR Industry and here are his thoughts. “I think the future looks bright for the PDR Industry. The last several years in this business have been amazing. It seems to be exponentially becoming more unified. Every year I am always excited to go to the Mobile Tech Expo just to see what’s new. Techs unifying can only be good because we have all seen prices go down over the years trying to compete on price only. I think what PDR Nation is doing is a great start in the right direction to keep this trend going. We can all only benefit from efforts such as these.”
The Art of Blending by Shane Jacks
Let’s talk about blending. It seems the last couple of years, all the rage at MTE and on pdr tool manufacturers’ websites have been blending hammers and the practice of blending itself. There are a lot of misconceptions out there, and a lot of myth that clouds the facts about the art of blending and what blending hammers are used for. Let’s see if we can unshroud the mystery of blending and look at what blending can do for you.
First, blending means different things to different people. Indeed, blending hammers can and are used extensively for much more than just blending. Knocking down crowns, alleviating pressure, and even using the hammer as a knock down are all uses for the blending hammer. However, the primary intrigue in this practice is in the blending itself. Sure, myself and others use the hammer as a primary source of a knock down, and for all crown work. It works extremely well for those applications for reasons we will cover soon, but the main focus will be on actual blending for this article. Although many will debate the facts, it is possible to blend damage to an acceptable and even superb standard, and it is profitable. So, let’s dive into it and discover what can be done with our hammers.
Let me say that blending has been done for many, many years at manufacturing facilities across the globe. I was taught the craft by Germans from BMW plants, and they were taught many years before that. I say that to state that blending will produce very good results on damage that is within limits. What is within limits? That depends on your skill level and the area the damage is located on. Convex areas are very accepting to blending, flat areas not nearly as much. Areas with body lines and/or edges are more open to blending also. Sail panels, with their natural curvature and small area in terms of width, are very forgiving and accept blending very well. I have personally documented a few cases where hail dents the size of quarters with little depth have been repaired to beyond acceptable levels with blending. This is not the norm, for me anyway, and shouldn’t be considered a standard. Your skill level, the panel you are working on, and the depth of the damage are all limiting factors in blending out damage.
Using the hammer as a primary source of a knock down is an uncommon practice, but one that I personally swear by. It is my belief that one can repair damage to a better level using a hammer as a knock down. Why? Simply put: distance. The farther you are from the damaged area, the better you can see the damage and work it out. Everyone should know this truth when using a dent tool, and when we position our lights for finish work. It applies to knocking down crowns, high spots caused by pushing and everything in between as well. When a tech is using a knock down with a hammer, he or she can only get so far away from the damage. He or she is also put in an uncomfortable position many times by having to use both hands to hammer. Knocking down with a blending hammer gets the tech farther away from the damage 100% of the time, and puts the user in a more comfortable position 90% of the time. Think about it: wouldn’t we all like to be as far away from the damage as possible when finishing work? If we were all very accurate with a hammer, wouldn’t we all like to be more comfortable? Comfort, for me at least, definitely leads to a better finished product.
So, how does one learn to blend like a master? Just like pushing, it takes practice, lots of practice. However, there are a few tips that can make the learning curve a little easier and faster. I will take for granted that all of us know how to knock down a crown or high spot. Using a hammer or knock down for either of those is only a matter of placing the face of the hammer in the correct position and applying force. Common sense, to say the least. So, we will focus on actual blending here, and some tips on how to perform it. First, and this should be used at all times with a hammer, is to anchor the hand. Anchor the heel of your hand to the car firmly enough that there is stability, but lightly enough that there is no tension in your hand. Place the end of the hammer in the palm of your hand. This will allow the hammer to pivot correctly and give you great control. Remember, we are blending, not driving 16 penny nails. Finesse is what we are after, not brawn. This light placement will also allow you to move your hand forward and back as needed. Now, the actual blending comes into play. This is a practice that is hard enough to explain in person, much less in words, but I will try. Start on the edge of the damaged area. Front or back, it doesn’t matter. The edge of the damage is where the first strike will take place.
One practice that I still use from time to time that should be used by all beginners is a practice strike that does no movement, but shows alignment. Lay the hammer down, and strike gently to be sure your aim is on and that you are loose, then another strike hard enough to move the edge. The damage should look slightly larger now. Not in depth, but in area. Keep moving the hammer face away from the damage, slowly and methodically striking and moving metal as you go. Often times, what will result is a “seedy” look. This is where you will want to “connect the dots”, bringing these lows together. Follow these steps for the front and back sides of the damage until the area matches the panel, lightening up the strikes as you move away from the damage, i.e. “blending” the damage. Multiple things are happening when this is done. One, you are technically making the damage larger. It is an optical illusion. Two, and more importantly, you are vibrating the panel, shocking the damage out to an extent. This shock is something that I personally contest cannot be done as efficiently with a nylon or even metal knock down. The hammer is the only object close to the damage, as your hand is a foot away. With a knock down, your hand is placed within inches of the damage. What this does is dampens the vibrations caused by striking, and lessens its effectiveness. If you are using the hammer correctly, it will bounce off of the panel quickly, and the metal has a chance to vibrate. This is one of the keys to blending effectively. So, to sum up the above points, I will focus on the most important aspects. One, anchor your hand. Two, swing loosely. And three, move and blend. Master these points and you will be blending out damage and knocking down highs with a lot of comfort.
Blending is a skill that is under used and at the same time over hyped. It is a tool that could be used in every techs arsenal to help them pick up speed, give them comfort, and make them money. Is it a mystical power that only few can possess? Hardly. Has it been overlooked as phony and as a gimmick that doesn’t work? Absolutely. Should you learn the skill and put it to use in your business? That is for you to decide
The tools are organized, the bags are packed, and the television is on The Weather Channel. Calls are being made, old contacts are being reconnected with, and new contacts are being sought out. The internet home screen is now www.spc.noaa.gov waiting on the reports to start flowing, the anticipation of that first storm is building stronger every day. Spring begins March 20th and hail season is coming soon.
Hail technicians across the country are getting ready for the chase. This time of year is one that exciting and nerve wracking at the same time. When will it be? Where will it hit? Who will land the best deal? Facebook is running rampant with hail techs making predictions, catching up with contacts, and getting ready to turn off their locators. The anticipation fuels emotions as rants and raves get posted, along with picking and poking fun with each other. Hail season is almost here.
Brokers are contacting the shops they’ve worked in the past as well as shops they wish to work with in the future. They are holding meetings and updating their list of technicians, making sure they are ready for whatever spring may bring. They are contacting their insurance contacts to get fresh in their mind, working every angle they can. Hail season is almost here.
All hail chasers know the feeling and thrill when the first storm hits. It’s the feeling that makes you go back year after year; it’s in your blood. As the anticipation rises, bags get packed, and tools get loaded, PDR Nation wishes all of you a great and prosperous hail season. Be careful on the road and go find that honey hole that will be hiding somewhere soon. As you sit there with anticipation, happy chasing from PDR Nation!
By Stephen Padgett
Next Month the Art Of Smash Repair by Sal Contreras