A Maywood, NE, native is using skills he learned through the Auto Body Technology program at North Platte Community College to turn a hobby into a profession.
Clay Chittick owns Clay’s Repair, LLC at 3566 S. Willow St., in North Platte, NE. He fixes damaged vehicles for private clients as well as for local dealerships. He also works as a lab assistant for his alma mater.
“I like taking a wrecked car that looks like it will never drive again and seeing the end product - repairing panels and making things look like new,” said Chittick. “I get a lot of fulfillment out of that.”
Chittick has always had an interest in vehicle repair. When he was a freshman in high school, he began restoring a pickup for his grandfather, Willis Roethemeyer, of North Platte. Chittick signed up for auto body night classes at NPCC to make sure he was doing the work correctly.
“That kind of got the ball rolling,” Chittick said. “I took the night classes all through high school then decided to get a degree to back up my knowledge. I learned about both collision repair and restoration at NPCC, which was good. Most of what I do currently is collision work, but the restoration side of things taught me how to repair stuff that is typically replaced these days.”
He used rust as an example.
“I toured other collision repair schools, but none of them taught students how to replace rust. Where we are located, rust is a common problem,” said Chittick. “I’ve replaced a lot of rust spots for farmers, and the Auto Body program at NPCC taught me those skills. I learned how to cut a 12-inch by 12-inch patch out of a pickup box and make it look like I never touched it.”
Chittick graduated in August of 2014 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Auto Body Technology, and the rest is history.
“I had always been interested in starting my own business,” said Chittick. “One day, my grandpa called me and asked if I still wanted to do that. He knew of an old farm for sale that had some buildings on it that he thought could be modified.”