Wednesday, 01 July 2020 22:02

Auto Body Shop Has a Woman's Touch

Written by Deborah Laverty, The Times
Charlyn Vlasic checks on a job at Lakeside Collision II. Charlyn Vlasic checks on a job at Lakeside Collision II. John J. Watkins, The Times


Two Region women in Indiana are smashing barriers by assuming the reins of a business that puts things back together.

Lake Side Collision II owner Brian Starcevich died at the age of 50, leaving the body shop at 8250 Whitcomb St., Merrillville, IN, rudderless.


"He was the heartbeat of the business," Brian's wife, Kimberly Starcevich, said of her husband.


Now two women---Kimberly, of Lakes of the Four Seasons, and Brian’s younger sister, Charlyn Vlasic, of St. John---have taken over an operation, often associated with male ownership, with the assistance of Brian’s dad, Chuck Starcevich.


But this is no man's world.


"We all three kind of fill all the holes," Kimberly Starcevich said."The three of us try to work like a team."


Chuck Starcevich, 73, came out of semi-retirement when his son died last year to help keep the business going.


But when COVID-19 hit earlier this year, he decided to step back and restrict his activities because of his health problems, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) from all the years breathing chemical-based fumes.


He coaches the women and offers his guidance with Zoom, FaceTime and occasional off-hour visits.


"We wanted to protect him so we have him stay out of here as much as we can," his daughter-in-law said.


The senior Starcevich opened Lake Side Collision I on Chicago's East Side in 1978.


That's where Brian Starcevich began learning his trade at the side of his father.

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