The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

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June 4, 2014

Experts work to put a dent in 7,000 hail-damaged cars

DANVILLE — The hail had hardly melted when Ryan Hampton arrived in Montour County, ready to spend the next six to nine months repairing dents on some of the 7,000 vehicles damaged in the epic May 22 storm.

Hampton, of St. Louis, works for Hi-Tech PDR, or Paintless Dent Repair, based in Chicago.

The company is renting space in the Iron Town Commerce Center warehouse and is a subcontractor with Hawkins Collision Repair.

Hampton worked with Hawkins following hail storms in 2007 and in 2011 in Montour County.

“The hail,” he said, “was smaller from those storms.”

Among the 10 others with Hampton is Jesse Whitson, who Wednesday was slowly massaging hail dents from a sport utility vehicle.

The Minneapolis resident has been doing paintless dent repairs across the nation for the past six years.

“It’s a great career,” he said. “I enjoy it quite a bit. It’s definitely an acquired art. Being a perfectionist, it suits my nature.”

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

Hampton, Hi-Tech’s director of business development, travels where 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 those 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.

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

The technology Hi-Tech uses 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 depends upon the number and 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.

While vehicle hoods are removed, side panels are left on while removing dents.

Hampton and two others from Hi-Tech have been assisting with delivery and dropoff 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.

 

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