Winter weather travel advisories have lifted and shops are seeing increased traffic in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.
For Kelley Auto Group Collision, technicians have just begun to receive these vehicles, according to Nathan Nix, manager of body shops at 500 E. State Blvd. and at 633 Avenue of Autos in the 14/69 Auto Mall in Ft. Wayne.
Since the company services drivable and nondrivable vehicles, technicians have worked hard to get drivable vehicles finished in order to begin work on the nondrivable vehicles.
“The question is, how soon can we get to them without giving someone an expectation that’s too great?” Nix asked.
Besides dealing with insurance companies, Nix said non drivable cars take time to move into the shop from the lot.
“We use state of the art equipment to move the vehicle inside without creating additional damage,” Nix said. “We dissect the damaged parts of the car thoroughly. This shortens the repair time and ultimately provides a better service to the customer.”
With tow services two days behind schedule, both locations will continue to receive vehicles steadily the remainder of this week. Nix said technicians were working overtime and weekends.
Nix also said Hertz and Enterprise, two car rental agencies with which Kelley works, are pulling cars from other cities that are not affected by the snowstorm to help customers in need.
Mark Muntzinger, owner of Mark’s Body Shop, also reported an increase in business that he expects to last the next few weeks.
“We’re here to serve the community to get them back on the road,” Muntzinger said. “We smooth out the bad situation.”
People who have had trouble starting their cars have also flooded Gouty Service Center Inc. with calls. Owner Ron Katt said he was backed up about 8–10 hours because wrecker companies were backed up.
The lag time body shops were experiencing in receiving vehicles is directly related to towing services that are experiencing heavy call volume from distressed drivers and police.
Blue Eagle Towing’s operations manager said the company usually receives 60 calls in a 24-hour period, but was receiving 80 to 100 calls by noon.
The company, which services light-duty (cars) and heavy-duty (trucks) vehicles, has especially seen an increase in heavy-duty calls—from five to 10 calls a day to almost 150 calls a day.
Dan Parker, who owns Parker Service Inc., Kelley Wrecker, Hinsey’s Wrecker Service, Dan’s Towing and Allen County Towing, has doubled business because of the latest snowstorm.
The 24-hour towing service, which averages 250–300 tows a day, now is towing 500–600 vehicles daily, according to Dan Parker, third-generation owner of Parker Service Inc.
“The first two days we were getting 100 calls an hour,” Parker said. “Now we’re scheduling for Friday.”
Among the five towing services, Parker said, 80 employees using 55 trucks are doing their best to jump start and pull out stuck cars, tow vehicles and assist disabled semis.
“This is the busiest we’ve seen it in 20 years,” Parker said, adding that tow services are usually busy for about a day or so after a snowstorm – but not four days.
“So far everybody’s been pretty understanding,” Parker said. “We’re working through it as fast as we can.”