PDR. For us, it’s a family affair.
We have a cozy home in what a lot of people consider the “boonies,” off a back road in a town that has one stop light, one gas station, a (new) Dollar General and a drag strip. My husband has been a “dent guy” for 20 years; the 1st 19 he worked for someone else, and this last year he fulfilled his dream of starting his own business. He commutes just over an hour to Chantilly to run Dent Group of VA, a Paintless Dent Removal shop, which we started on January 1, 2019.
I left my career as a Probation Officer 5 years ago to raise our now preschooler and 1 year old daughter. My stay-at-home-Mom status recently changed to work-mostly-from-home-Mom, and we have a 19 year old son who works for the family business as well. It’s been a crazy year starting a business in January, and having a new baby 2 months later (lets just say “maternity leave” looked a little different this time around), but it’s been so rewarding, well worth the sacrifices and hard work, and I’m honored to be a part of this alongside my husband.
Before I met Richie, I had never even heard of PDR (Paintless Dent Removal). You may be just like me, and maybe even had your car repaired this way and don’t even know it. It’s a win-win, as your car is repaired to its original finish without paint or fillers, which means it saves everyone money (the body shop & insurance company included) and it’s eco-friendly.
I certainly didn’t know what a lucrative business it was. I remember how surprised (maybe almost puzzled) my former boss seemed when I told him I was leaving work to stay home and raise my baby (4 months after I had returned to work from maternity leave, mind you. Even I was a little surprised).
He commented that business must be going well for my husband. We definitely had to start a new budget and change/omit some spending habits, but yes, I’m so thankful for this business and what it has allowed us to do, especially being able to stay home with my babies.
I learned about PDR 10 years ago, when Richie and I were on our first date. When we met, a hail storm hit a large dealership in Pennsylvania, so he left town for a few days to work on the damaged cars.
Hail is huge in the PDR industry, as hundreds or thousands of cars may get dinged with hundreds or thousands of tiny dents. The dents are removed one by one with special tools held by the specially-trained hands of dent guys like my husband. They may stay out of town for days, weeks (or even months) on end, working extremely long hours, but when the hail damage is fixed, the payout is worth the temporary stretch of sleepless nights.
Some dent guys, hail-chasers, base their entire career on hail storms, tracking the weather and going to wherever the hail hits to find their work. They may work 6-9 months out of the year this way, but that part of their life is spent away from their homes and families.
My husband worked what was considered the Hail Catastrophe of 2010, where every one of his dealerships and every car on the lots was hit, which is unheard of as hail tends to be pretty sporadic. He was only traveling to his usual area in Northern Virginia for work, but for months he was oftentimes gone until 3 am, only to leave again by 6am.
We barely saw each other, and it made me so thankful that it was only temporary. I cannot imagine being a hail wife, and I have major kudos for the wives and moms who hold down the fort while their husbands chase hail to provide for their families. My sister-in-law, who is a mom of 3, is a hail wife and she is a strong woman! Her husband is actually how my husband got into this business. The two met while he was in town working a hail storm, and the rest is history.
Now here we are. 10 years ago, if you told me I’d be helping to run a new company, especially this business, with my whole family, I’d have probably laughed. Even a handful of years ago when my husband started thinking of the possibility of starting a company, I was thinking more of the extra stress and headaches he’d be taking on, and kind of tried talking him out of it. (Not very supportive, I know.) It just seemed crazy and a little impossible to me. But I’ll be honest with you, in the 10 years I’ve been with Richie, I never realized just how smart he is until this!
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think he was a dummy, I am just truly amazed at this genius side to him that is coming out as a business owner. He’s always been detail oriented, organized and meticulous, but the policies, ideas and business concepts he has been coming up with over the past year are amazing. I think he’s going to take Dent Group of VA (and maybe even the PDR field itself) far and I’m so proud of him. I’ve come a long way from trying to talk him out of starting a company, and now I’m just thrilled to be a part of this, proud to have him call me his business partner, and excited to see what happens next.
So, welcome to our blog! I just wanted to share a little glimpse from my viewpoint, and I hope you’ll check back and see what shenanigans we get into next!