The Silent But Deadly Dent-X
Dent repair technicians are not, broadly speaking, known for their humility. Repairing mashed metal in such a way that no one knows it was once mashed requires a cerebral approach, a high level of concentration, and a commitment to precision not prevalent in many professions. At the Mobile Tech Expo every year, the pros all gather around the ropes, watching for anyone whose talents might present an inkling of a challenge, but over the past decade and a half, they all mostly know each other and the new guys? Well, they keep one eye open for up and coming threats, but among those who are veterans at it, better to worry about the cocky ones first.
The irony is that when Ivan Sklaruk, owner of Dent-X on Long Island, NY, entered the Dent Olympics at the Mobile Tech Expo back in 2014, he was just one of those non menacing newbies who seemed to offer no threat to anyone, having competed three times before and never having placed higher than seventh in the competition.
When I walk into Mobile Tech, no one knows who I am, Sklaruk says. I'm a pretty low profile guy, used to working alone so I am shy and nervous and unaccustomed to standing up in front of crowds to do my work. I don't interact with many dent techs on a daily basis, but I always push myself to do my best.
What no one knew back in 2014 and discovered again in 2016, is that when Sklaruk trained for dent repair work with Dent Wizard's Tom Price, Price saw a natural ability that could have predicted Sklaruks rise among the ranks. Tom said I was one of the top five dent techs he had ever trained and that if I ever competed at the Dent Olympics in Orlando, I would win.
No one doubts the credentials of Price who is also president of the Dent Network, but no one knew who the silent, but deadly challenger was.
Perhaps thats because Ivan Sklaruk isnt like most dent techs. He majored in economics, is an entrepreneur, restaurateur, Long Island policeman, and owner of several businesses on Long Island including an ATM distributorship and an upholstery business run by his girlfriend Danielle Gerecitano and her brother Vincent. He works the midnight shift patrolling the highways of Long Island and works full time as a dent technician for his company Dent-X, while renovating a restaurant he plans to open soon.
Repairing dents is his passion, one of his favorite pastimes, but as a practical businessman, he realized that police work is a dangerous job and since he was never able to narrow all of his interests down into one lump, he decided it best to diversify those interests.
I think it is an immigrants mentality, says the Ukrainian-born Sklaruk. I am naturally ambitious when it comes to business and I think creatively. If I ever broke my arm or found that I couldn't repair dents anymore, I needed a back-up plan for making a living. I have always given myself plenty of options by being diverse in business.
Eight years on the Long Island police force, Sklaruk watched a buddy of his repair a dent in a car and found it fascinating to watch. He made a very nice living, stayed busy, and lived a comfortable lifestyle doing that kind of work, so I asked him to train me, says Sklaruk. He wasn't comfortable training and was too busy besides, but he recommended Tom out in Longmont, Colorado.
I am a very detail oriented person so my progressions for getting good were fairly quick, he says. But what I discovered is that it is relatively easy to get that dent to 90 percent. At 90 percent, the customer is perfectly happy, but the difficult part is finishing it. From 90 to 100 percent takes a great deal more skill, but I am sort of like Keanu Reeves in the movie Matrix where he sees everything in terms of ones, Xs and Os. It is just easy for me. I guess I have a natural instinct for it.
It took him about six months to get comfortable with his new trade, but upon returning from training, he approached a Jeep dealership on Long Island and offered to do their dent repairs free for a month to accelerate his skills. After five weeks, he began billing them for the work and they became his first paying client. That was six years ago and that dealership is among dozens of dealerships where Sklaruk now stays busy fixing dents forty to fifty hours a week.
Sklaruk says he uses four of his favorite dent tools to fix 75 percent of his dents, but he adheres to Price's advice. He said you have to have the humility to walk away from an unfixable dent. It is less about the size of the dent than it is the energy behind it, how it happened, what it will take to fix it, and whether it can be fixed. I like a good challenge but some dents aren't completely fixable. If the result of your efforts isn't good, and you know it isn't good, then it leaves a lasting impression that you aren't very good. You are better off to walk away if you can't do it right.
The result is a two-time Dent Olympics winner who won first place in 2014 and won first place this year in 2016. I now have a new goal of being the first person to win the Dent Olympics three times. A couple of people have won it twice, but no one has won it three times so I am on a mission next year to hit it for the third time.
It is almost certain that competing dent techs and past winners are taking note of the new challengers quiet competitiveness. Sklaruk is mostly silent when he arrives, but quite deadly when it comes to action!
For info contact:
Ivan Sklaruk, Dent-X, Inc
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