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Collision work job offer advice

jlcustomz

evil painter
#1
Been just an occasional car painter/ customizer & Part time painter of entrance doors at my day job, which is door/ window install repair, etc. I'm really good at most of what I do at the day job, but some stuff these days is really getting heavy for a 47 year old to be doing, plus baking out in the sun a lot of the time, etc. Been wanting a way out for years, but haven't run across any good options for me. The custom car business in North Fla isn't exactly the most stable business. I've gotten a lot of possible job offers from people seeing my custom car at large shows, but all from out of town or state.
Well, picked up part of my first SPI paint order from our fairly new local SPI distributor & in a brief conversation between 2 busy people just meeting, he mentioned coming to work for them, so now I got something to think about. Looks like part of what they do is painting for a large local Toyota dealership.

I know collision work is more fast & less perfect than what I'd like to be doing. Also know it's not the easiest job for someone my age to start into, but my current job many times involves some insanely heavy stuff that I just shouldn't be doing anymore. I fully know there will be a learning curve going to full professional, which I'm not, but my possible employer says they need reliable people, which I am.

Figured I'd see what advise I get here before I speak again with my potential employer. Any advise or thoughts are appreciated.
 

Chris_Hamilton

Trying to be the best me, I can be
#2
Here are my thoughts having worked in collision repair since I was 19 (43 now). First off it is a big jump from doing resto/custom type work at your own pace to working in a Insurance shop, especially if it is a busy one. Yes it is fast but also jobs have to be close to perfect (in its own way) Panels have to be straight, paint has to look at least as good as OEM, panel fitment needs to be spot on. Ans you're measured in hours not days. A good bodyman can turn out top notch work in about 1/2 to at the most 2/3's of the rated time. If you spend much over the estimated time on something too many times you are going to be looking for another job. A lot of pressure. The buzzword that everyone likes to use is returning a car to pre accident condition. So a 2015 needs to look like a 2015 when you are done. In many ways it's much more difficult than resto/custom type work. Work at a busy shop and any enjoyment you get out of this work soon fades away. New cars are very different than older stuff now. New F150's are all aluminum, require a completely different method to replace panels such as bedsides etc. Most Unibody's are made of High strength steel in structural areas which require unique methods to repair. Never mind having to develop an eye for seeing the damage and being able to find all of it without missing areas. One of the hardest things for a lot of the young guys that I have taught to pick up.
It's a lot to learn (I'm still learning 24 years in) and really the learning curve never stops as OEM's evolve with technology. Best if you could start somewhere where they will let you do what you are comfortable with and gradually learn the rest. I would highly recommend you enroll in ICAR, https://www.i-car.com/ and start taking some of the courses they offer. If you can get a employer to pay for it all the better, but it's worth the money and will help you find employment at the higher caliber shops which is where you want to be. Low end Insurance shops are not pleasant places to work at. (ask me how I know:))

If you can find a job at a nice Custom/Resto shop I think you would be much happier than jumping into Collision Repair. Good Luck and if I can help let me know.:)
 
#3
Chris_Hamilton said:
Here are my thoughts having worked in collision repair since I was 19 (43 now). First off it is a big jump from doing resto/custom type work at your own pace to working in a Insurance shop, especially if it is a busy one. Yes it is fast but also jobs have to be close to perfect (in its own way) Panels have to be straight, paint has to look at least as good as OEM, panel fitment needs to be spot on. Ans you're measured in hours not days. A good bodyman can turn out top notch work in about 1/2 to at the most 2/3's of the rated time. If you spend much over the estimated time on something too many times you are going to be looking for another job. A lot of pressure. The buzzword that everyone likes to use is returning a car to pre accident condition. So a 2015 needs to look like a 2015 when you are done. In many ways it's much more difficult than resto/custom type work. Work at a busy shop and any enjoyment you get out of this work soon fades away. New cars are very different than older stuff now. New F150's are all aluminum, require a completely different method to replace panels such as bedsides etc. Most Unibody's are made of High strength steel in structural areas which require unique methods to repair. Never mind having to develop an eye for seeing the damage and being able to find all of it without missing areas. One of the hardest things for a lot of the young guys that I have taught to pick up.
It's a lot to learn (I'm still learning 24 years in) and really the learning curve never stops as OEM's evolve with technology. Best if you could start somewhere where they will let you do what you are comfortable with and gradually learn the rest. I would highly recommend you enroll in ICAR, https://www.i-car.com/ and start taking some of the courses they offer. If you can get a employer to pay for it all the better, but it's worth the money and will help you find employment at the higher caliber shops which is where you want to be. Low end Insurance shops are not pleasant places to work at. (ask me how I know:))

If you can find a job at a nice Custom/Resto shop I think you would be much happier than jumping into Collision Repair. Good Luck and if I can help let me know.:)
Well put!!

What about getting a job with the SPI distributor selling product?
 
#4
we had a rusted out bottom of the front fender on the 03 monte carlo. Did it like a collision job, bought a fender, prepped, painted, put it back on, was so much easier than blowing an entire car apart and lining up every single gap. Most of it was still in place from the door, the hood hinge had to be removed to get the skin off, but went right back on their washer marks. You can make it as difficult as you want I guess, Bottom line is if you got into Collision at least you have work history to apply at a custom place. I think thats the main thing, building a resume.
 

Chris_Hamilton

Trying to be the best me, I can be
#5
This is the kinda of stuff that has sucked away my soul and made me hate collision repair. I'm counting the days though.....:)

This is a 2014 Jeep Cherokee that got slammed in the front. The front unibody rails are made of High Strength Steel which you can't use any heat on. The rails when I pulled them didn't hardly budge. Ended up sectioning both rails. Ughh.
 
#6
I'm a restorer but when It's time for a new car I buy wrecks. Chris, that has to be a total right? It's a fun change but I doubt I'd like it everyday. I bought a 12' Lacrosse for the wife last week that needs some front end work and a 11' CTS4 assender for my folks. Coming from restoring I think the time crunch would be stressful. Some of the cars I restore have a deadline and can be stressfull but collision is like that everyday.

I'd probably go collision before I worked outside though. I will melt when it's hot and freeze when it's cold. I did roofing from early teens through graduation with my uncle. I'm a fair weather outside worker now.
 
#8
dhutton;n83146 said:
To be honest 47 is too old to get into collision work. Better to stick with your current job and keep looking for something better.

Don
Too old? You are talking to the generation that is gonna have to work til they are 80.
 
#9
My grandfather in law is 90 and just did a Fusion wreck. He's slower now but in his 70's would outwork most guys. A lot of it physical makeup. (Most big guys body's don't hold up like a little guy) I have friends in their lower 40's that would be worthless at this type of work and also guys in their 60's that are still going strong.
 

Chris_Hamilton

Trying to be the best me, I can be
#11
I believe Don is talking about the learning curve as opposed to physical age. If a guy is motivated it wouldn't be a real problem, but jumping into it can be a little overwhelming at a big/busy shop.
If you can find a small shop it would be a much better fit for someone getting into it. A lot of it depends on how management or the owner is. My experience nearly every shop owner I've worked for had issues. Some demanding, some outright crooks. Worked for one shop on commission until I found that they were shaving the workorder and only giving us about 2/3 time versus the estimate.

Brad that's awesome that your Dad is still going strong at 90! Reminds me of my Dad. Enjoy every moment you can with him while he's still here.:)
Oh and yeah it's a rebuilder. We do a lot for one big company.
 

MikeS

The New Guy
#12
Chris_Hamilton;n83160 said:
......................Enjoy every moment you can with him while he's still here.:)
Having recently lost my father to bone cancer at 85, I can not begin to describe how wholeheartedly I agree with this statement.
Enjoy it every day and never forget to tell them how much you love them.

Mike
 
#13
While I agree with a lot of what everyone has said the real big thing for me would be the pay would not be real good at all for someone just starting in the shop especially at 47. It takes a couple years before you can prove yourself to a shop owner and Co-workers that you can do what ever comes your way and be able to get it done in a reasonable time frame and done with customer safety.

I have been working on cars since I was 14 and I'm now 48 I have been with my current employer for over 25yrs (everyday I think good Lord how long have I been here?). I have seen a crap load of changes in the industry the Insurance Co.'s have cut the times to where you had better haul ass to make rate, no screwing around B.S.ing with others you have to be able to react to the damage you don't have time to stand there and study what has to be done.

I, like you think what else could I do that would be easier (you beat your body doing this too) and would still allow me to live the same way I am now, not that we're setting the world on fire making money hand over fist. I think everybody goes through and thinks the same thing from time to time. What helps me is doing things on my own sometimes more of the same but I also do other things that have nothing to do with the day work that helps except now the spare time gets sucked up so there is a trade off but it kinda helps.
 
#14
Haven't talked to him again, but they list a st Augustine address & are doing painting at Arlington Toyota. Actually he just said painting , which may not mean the mechanical aspect of collision work.
I'm not thinking this to be a fun job or something, or I wouldn't be asking.. But my current door & window job has it's full share of rushing all the time, do more for less, etc. Also you don't remove an opening from someone's house or business & leave at a certain time either.You leave when you're done, may be in the dark & raining . May be lifting more than you're own weight by yourself. Other than running some jobsite, which is not my thing , room for advancement went away probably 15 years ago.

I agree money to start may be the biggest issue, Current job not high hourly, but includes driving their truck home, their phone, most tools these days, etc .Probably this may be a back up plan at best.
 

Chris_Hamilton

Trying to be the best me, I can be
#15
I hope it works out for you JL. If you are comfortable painting that may be a good fit. Definitely the easier side to start on. Probably your biggest issue (just assuming you haven't had a lot of experience in this area) would be blending. It's not hard to pick up though, plenty of us here could walk you through that.
 
#16
Tubro Finish??? I called him 3 times a few months ago and left messages wanting to buy SPI product... almost a $800 order. No call back. Went with ******* and HOK instead.
 
#17
Beobob said:
Tubro Finish??? I called him 3 times a few months ago and left messages wanting to buy SPI product... almost a $800 order. No call back. Went with ******* and HOK instead.
turbo finish. Reese is who I spoke to a few times & briefly met. Need to check back on the rest of my order.

Think they need help distributing it. Hmmmm.
 
#18
Beobob said:
Tubro Finish??? I called him 3 times a few months ago and left messages wanting to buy SPI product... almost a $800 order. No call back. Went with ******* and HOK instead.
turbo finish. Reese is who I spoke to a few times & briefly met. Need to check back on the rest of my order.

Think they need help distributing it. Hmmmm.
 
#19
Chris_Hamilton said:
I hope it works out for you JL. If you are comfortable painting that may be a good fit. Definitely the easier side to start on. Probably your biggest issue (just assuming you haven't had a lot of experience in this area) would be blending. It's not hard to pick up though, plenty of us here could walk you through that.
If by chance I would go this direction, it wouldn't be just yet. Collision repair isn't a favorite job choice, but nobody seems to make it in the custom market around here & many of those guys made lesss$ than my day job. Bunches of former older customshops have went to collision around here.
You hadn't said anything yet I couldn't agree with, blending skills included. I deal with staining wood & woodgrain fiberglass at work , which is sort of the equivalent of a tri-color paint system. I have a certain mental level of color understanding, but haven't fully developed that skill yet, forgot a lot of what I once knew fooling with enamels
 
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