Monday, 06 November 2017 21:01

Levander’s Auto Body Business Expands North Platte, NE, Services

Written by Job Vigil, The North Platte Telegraph
Scott Hill, co-owner of Levander’s Body Shop and Service Center, stands in front of the expansion that houses the full-service shop across the street from the original body shop at 2306 E. Philip Ave. in North Platte. Scott Hill, co-owner of Levander’s Body Shop and Service Center, stands in front of the expansion that houses the full-service shop across the street from the original body shop at 2306 E. Philip Ave. in North Platte.

North Platte native Scott Hill saw an opportunity and, by stepping out in faith, has seen his business grow and expand over the past few years.

Hill met Brian and Annette Levander of Grand Island through networking with others in similar fields of business. The Levanders have a service department in Grand Island and body shops located in Grand Island, Hastings, Kearney, North Platte and St. Paul, and recently opened another shop in York.

“Brian and I were talking about opening a shop and we looked around town and found this building,” co-owner Hill said. “We bought it that same day---June 1---and we opened July 1, 2013. We scurried pretty fast to get things going in about 30 days.”

The shop in North Platte, at 2306 E. Philip Ave., began with just two people in the auto body business and now includes a separate building across the street from the original, where they offer a full-service automotive shop.

“One other technician, Roger Gies, and I started onsite at the auto body location, and in three years, we’ve added onto that building three times,” Hill said. “It originally was a 3,000-square-foot building to where we are just under 10,000 in the body shop now.”

Not only did the building size grow, but Hill said the number of employees did as well.

“Now we have 17 full-time employees,” Hill said. “It’s really done a great thing as far as jobs in the community [go].”

Hill said he and the Levanders did not seek out any business incentives, but were able to open with investing their own finances.

“We did not look at TIF or other incentive programs, but that’s the neat thing about Brian and Annette---they invest so much more back into the company,” Hill said. “It’s allowed for the growth and the retention of the employees.”

Another aspect of the business, Hill said, is the close relationship it has with Mid-Plains Community College.

“We’ve worked closely with the instructors in the automotive program at Mid-Plains Community College,” Hill said. “One of the things we have noticed in this industry is that there is a growing technician shortage.”

Hill said his company is trying to assist and co-op with programs such as Mid-Plains and Southeast Community College to try to expose the younger generation, and high school students, to the automotive repair world as a very good career move opportunity.

“Everything has become so automated with the technology and computers, and we’ve seen it in cars, too, with the autonomous braking, smart cruise control, hybrid or all-electric cars,” Hill said. “We’re hoping that part of it will pull some of the younger generation to car repair. It’s not greasy work anymore---it’s a lot of programming modules and scan tools and very technical type repairs.”

Hill said he has two employees who are Mid-Plains Community College graduates.

The expansion into full service began with the need for mechanical work generated by the body shop.

“The body shop itself creates a lot of its own mechanical type work, if we’re doing suspension or alignments and stuff like that,” Hill said. “We were farming a lot of that out. We were running around town getting mechanical work and alignment work done.”

In order to accommodate the automotive service expansion, a new building was required.

“The automotive side and towing was added about a year ago here in North Platte,” Hill said. “We bought the lot and put the building up and hired full-time mechanics mainly to service what was going on in the body shop, and it’s grown into a full-service center where we do tire work, suspension work and major mechanical work, engine replacement, diagnostics and all that stuff.”

Hill said the time in business in North Platte has been fulfilling.

“One of the most rewarding things for us on a daily basis is the team we’ve built with all of our employees,” Hill said. “This isn’t something just one person can do on their own. It’s very specific, unique training and certification that go along with this kind of work.”

He said one person cannot take all the credit for that.

“It’s just not possible without the team effort of everybody, whether it’s the gentleman who’s washing cars for us, the owners or the technicians, the customer service reps and staff,” Hill said.

We thank The North Platte Telegraph for reprint permission.

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