In 1989, Mark Gibson started painting Peterbilt hoods in his father’s garage - an inauspicious beginning to what would later become one of the premier heavy-duty truck body shops in the country; Diversified Body and Paint Shop located in Denver.
Later, Steve Wolfe would join the company, become a partner, and in 2002, buy-out Gibson’s share to become sole owner along with his family.
Autobody News caught up with Wolfe to discuss his growing business. Wolfe said 50% of their work is commercial Class 8 trucks, about 23% RV’s, 15% emergency vehicles such as fire trucks or ambulances, 10% are buses and 2% are food trucks. When asked which type presents the biggest challenges, he replied, “They all present their own special challenges. Much of what we work on are ‘one-off’ vehicles where body panels and other parts must be custom made. And you never know what you will run into.”
Wolfe noted that a few years ago they had two RV’s in the shop at the same time, made by the same manufacturer, same model year, same model, even the same color. Surprisingly, they were only three serial numbers apart from each other. When they started repairs, one had an aluminum body frame; the other was wood requiring two completely different repair protocols.
We posed a few other questions to Wolfe. Here’s what he had to say.
ABN: From how far away will a customer come to you for repair?
SW: Being where we are located, it’s not uncommon for a customer to travel 300 to 500 miles to see us. Denver is a city in a vast area of open land.
ABN: Given the type of vehicles you repair, it would appear that you do a lot of custom fabrication, something that I assume is not in the conventional estimating systems. How do you estimate that type of work? Are the insurance companies accepting of these types of estimates?
SW: There really is no system to accurately estimate the work we do. It is only through years of experience and knowing custom fabrication that we can create an estimate.