The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

The Danville News

June 5, 2014

Dent-busters begin repairs in Danville

DANVILLE — Jesse Whitson was slowly massaging hail dents from an SUV Wednesday.

The Minneapolis resident has been doing paintless dent repairs throughout the country for the past six years.

“It’s a great career. I enjoy it quite a bit. It’s definitely an acquired art. Being a perfectionist, it suits my nature,” he said as he worked on an SUV in an Iron Town Commerce Center warehouse being rented by Hi-Tech PDR, or Paintless Dent Repair, based in Chicago.

Hi-Tech’s Ryan Hampton arrived in the Danville area the morning after a May 22 hail storm damaged thousands of vehicles in Mahoning Township and other areas along with homes.

His company is a subcontractor with Hawkins Collision Repair.

A St. Louis resident, Hampton worked with Hawkins following hail storms in 2007 and in 2011 in the Danville area. “The hail was smaller from those storms,” he said.

There are 10 others with him.

As of Wednesday, they had removed dents from a dozen vehicles.

The director of business development, Hampton travels anywhere they are needed. “We were in Australia in January,” he said.

“I plan to be here six to nine months,” said Hampton, who manages to get home to see his family.

Some of the people with him are employees and others are subcontractors depending upon the demand for work.

A Hi-Tech employee for 13 years, Hampton spends much of his time in the Southeast and Midwest of the U.S.

“We do paintless dent repair where we get behind the dent and push it up real slow,” he said.

The technology they use has been around since the mid-1980s.

“There’s a tool for every dent,” he said of the special stainless steel hand tools and cart they use. “Depending upon the location, there’s different tool.”

The paintless method is cost-effective, faster, less intrusive on the vehicle, maintains a car’s value and appearance and allows the factory finish and warranty to stay intact, he said.

The amount of time to remove dents depends upon the number of dents and the size of the dents.

Trim technician Matt Branham, of Wichita, Kan., first takes the vehicles apart.

Then the certified PDR technicians go to work.

Mike Chitwood, of Missouri, was finishing a hood and making sure there weren’t any high spots Wednesday.

They take off hoods to work on them.  Side panels are left on while removing dents.

Hampton and two others from his company have been assisting with delivery and drop-off of customers’ vehicles at Hawkins collision office.

“We have let customers come in and watch” in the warehouse, he said.

As for dents removed by grinding, filling, sanding and painting, they let that up to the Hawkins body shop.

The paintless dent workers’ slow time is when hail season is over which is from October to February.

“That’s when we plan our vacations and do work around our houses,” Hampton said.

Email comments to kblackledge@thedanvillenews.com.

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