Andrew Kinsey Scoops
On Dent Olympics &
15 Years In The PDR Business
Andrew Kinsey Scoops
On Dent Olympics &
15 Years In The PDR Business
The life of a hail dent technician requires a love of the open road, a willingness to pick up and go on a moment's notice, and a passion for fixing dents. The nomadic lifestyle is not for everyone but the beaucoup of cash to be made, and the freewheeling reputation of those who do it, invites speculation that all hail dent techs pile eight to a room at Motel 6 to save money, while spending their bucks on cheap wine, loose women, and bad karaoke.
That is not so for Andrew Kinsey of Superior Impressions in Walls, Mississippi! Instead, he and his wife April, who joined him in the business three years ago, as well as their two cats, pile into their fifth-wheel camper and use the time to work, enjoy family time, and see the country together. I much prefer to spend my money buying guns and vehicles than on strip clubs and whiskey, but that's just me!
April handles all of the administration for Superior Impressions while Andrew checks in with car dealerships and body shops to see what he can do to help repair damage caused by the rash of hailstorms that ravage the Midwest between March and October every year; and to fix any damage caused in transport. It's a more business-like approach when compared to the barker-like atmosphere attached to the circus coming to town!
I don't get into the circus-like approach the young techs enjoy, Kinsey says. For one thing, in states like Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, and Kansas, it is too crowded and oversaturated with dent techs. There is a lot of money involved and people get greedy. Today I work mostly the East Coast and up north. Fortunately, I can walk into a shop, a dealership, or an auction and say, Here's what I can do. They usually hire me on my merits, I do the work, April files all the necessary paperwork, we are paid, and we move on.
Starting out as a mechanical engineering student, a friend of a friend introduced Andrew to paintless dent repair (PDR). Brian Neely and I hit it off and we started hanging out. I noticed he seemed to be doing very well for himself, driving a new Tahoe and by all standards, successful, so I asked him what he did for a living, Kinsey recalls. He told me he did PDR work and showed me a little of it.
In 2001, Kinsey went through Dent Wizard training and although dent repair is a demanding skill, he believes his interest in mechanical engineering and passion for making things with his hands had a lot to do with his success.
Neely helped Andrew get some jobs and they took off to Europe with a goal of working in as many different countries as they could. We visited 8 countries, stayed in 30 different hotels, packing up our tools every night, and moving on until we hit 30 shops in 30 days. We had a great time.
Back in the States, Kinsey worked for Dent Wizard for a couple of years. It was there that one of the franchise owners who had been in the business for nearly 15 years commented that Andrew in just six to eight months, was doing work on a level comparable to many techs who have been in the business for more than a decade.
That got my confidence up and I admit, I did catch on pretty fast and it was never really difficult for me, he says. I was slow, but at the time, I was mostly pushing dents out of flat horizontal surfaces like the roof, front hood, and trunk. I had more challenges to overcome when we started doing panel work because there's an entirely different approach to repairing a vertical surface like a door panel.
After eight years, he realized the only way to make the kind of money he felt his skill was worth, was to go it alone. Opening Superior Impressions, Kinsey started out in Florida where he did mostly route work for car dealerships, rental car companies, auctions, and body shops in Ft. Myers, and later Ocoee, just outside Orlando.
Six years ago, Kinsey along with John Willis, took over running the Dent Olympics at the Mobile Tech Expo. The first year of the Dent Olympics, we used a screwdriver with a golf ball on the end to manually make the dents on the cars that the competitors repaired in the competition. There was a lot of complaining that the dents were inconsistent in their difficulty making it unfair, depending on the luck of the draw. In fact, I saw winners not compete again because they knew they got a lucky dent and don't want to take a chance on losing with a more difficult draw, he says.
In order to try and make the dents more consistent, I built an air cannon that shoots nylon bullets into the car to make the dents. We started out using 15 psi of pressure but last year, we increased that to 19 psi. Now the dents are consistent, but they are also deep and sharp, right on the border of what we call oil canning, similar to how you can pop the metal in and out on a Coke can. It is a difficult dent and the techs have to be careful or the dent will come out too high. We have occasions where one of the techs may unintentionally pop a fixed dent back in while leaning on the door fixing their own dent, but it is rare and we just have to deal with it.
Looking for some behind-the-scenes scoop at the popular competition, Kinsey wouldn't spill except to say that in spite of the huge egos involved, many of techs get a bit of stage fright, repairing their dents in front of the audience, which can be more than 100 people at any given time.
We let some of the competitors push their dents early on Friday morning before the show officially opens and before it starts getting crowded on Saturday, he says. That relieves some of the nervousness of trying to perform in front of a live audience. Dent techs rarely work in front of people, so that is a factor for some.
Kinsey says they have changed some of the rules as well to make it more competitive. You used to be able to buy as many dents as you wanted and dent companies would buy a bunch of dents for their team members in order to give them a better chance at winning. We changed the rules so that now everyone only gets one entry. Every year the competition gets stronger and I think this past year was one of the best Dent Olympics ever.
Much has changed in the 15 years since Kinsey got into the business. Tools and technology have introduced so much newness to the industry, he says. Things like glue pull and lighting has come a long way, and now, there is something on the market called a hotbox that may bring about significant changes in the process if they ever work out all the kinks.
The T-Hotbox PDR Dent Removal Unit is similar to an electric welder only with less power. A tech can sit there and tap on the dent and it will move the metal, Kinsey explains. Right now it is too easy to burn the paint, but since the first machine came out of France about three years ago, it has been subject to a great deal of technical input and I can see the day when we may be able to use electronic machines to push dents. On big dents, however, I still like glue pull. I have doubts that the hotbox will ever be able to fix big dents without burning the paint, but we'll see.
Contact Info: Andrew Kinsey
6961 Ginwood Cir
Walls, MS 38680
Tel: 901 485-5105
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