If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
Andy Powell never expected to make the cover of a trade publication, but there he is, on the cover of the December issue of Fender Bender magazine.
Powell, who moved his business from Brownstown to Vandalia two years ago, consented to an interview in early 2020 when COVID-19 hit, and really “didn’t think much of it at the time. I never thought that someone from a small town like Vandalia would ever make the cover of a magazine,‚“Powell said.
Fender Bender is the trade magazine for auto body shops, insurance companies and adjusters, and others, and is distributed to nearly 40,000 subscribers across the county.
Powell and his wife, Michele, began the business on Feb. 14, 2000 in Browntown. After a successful beginning, Powell says, “We were just trying to grow the business and eventually ‘maxed out’ for Brownstown.“The business just celebrated 21 years in business this past Sunday.
“Each year we would send out Christmas cards to all of our customers, and the Vandalia pile just got bigger and bigger,“ Michele said.
Eventually the business grew so large, the couple debated whether to expand in Brownstown, or invest in a better location.
“We were the very first building permit issued in Brownstown,‚“Powell recalled. “There just isn’t a lot in small towns anymore.”
The couple purchased a lot in Vandalia, and listed it on Facebook, and Vandalia customers began patronizing the business even before it relocated. With those results, the couple never questioned the move.
“The city has been so amazing; I am surprised they didn’t throw us a parade,“ Michele said. “They were just so welcoming.”
And the business continues to grow.
“Four years ago we were a two-man shop. Today, we have seven full-time employees,‚“Powell said. The shop concentrates on collision repair, and Powell has reinvested in equipment and training for his employees.
In the article, Powell discussed time management. Being a small shop, Powell says that he wears many hats in the operation of the business, which necessitates being able to multi-task and use times efficiently, while still devoting time to the customers.
“Customers come in and they have already had a bad day, and we are here to put things back the way they were, to bring them back to normal‚“he said.
Since COVID started, he said that business has not suffered, but parts have been difficult to obtained when the factories converted over to producing ventilators, and some have been back-ordered. But once they are received, the employees are on the job.
“I always tell the guys it’s not how fast you work, but efficient and organized they are, and the shop reflects that,‚“he explained. “I don’t know why they singled me for the article. I do a lot on social media and that’s probably where they saw us.”