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Where Are They Now?

posted Sep 15, 2016, 7:18 AM by School Publications   [ updated Sep 15, 2016, 7:19 AM ]
            I interviewed Andy Powell, owner of Andy’s Auto Body here in Brownstown, Illinois. After he graduated high school he thought about working at a local factory, until his girlfriend and fiancee at the time Michele told him that since he liked to work on cars he should apply at body shops instead. Taking the advice of his wife of twenty-six years has always been a smart decision for him. He started out working at a dealership body shop before working at an independent body shop in Vandalia. He opened his own auto repair business eight years later after he knew that he could run his own business and have enough customers to keep the doors open. The first location was in a shed next to his house and when he left work in Vandalia he completed the tasks that needed to be done in his shop until sometimes past 9 or 10 o’clock at night.

Building a business from the ground up is never easy. The biggest challenge was for customers to bring their vehicles to the shop, followed by the financial toll from equipment and the building, and hiring quality workers to help in the shop. On Valentine's Day in 2000 he relocated his body shop to his current location in Brownstown at 221 W Cumberland Rd. He chose to establish his body shop in Brownstown because he was born and raised here and knew the community. The only thing that Andy would change about his business is the location because most of his customers come from Vandalia. There is no auto body that they strive to be like, they only give their absolute best on a daily basis.

The key to running a successful body shop is to treat customers with respect and to always perform quality work no matter what needs repaired. There are certain skills that you need to have when running an auto body business. Such skills including being able to talk to customers, knowledge of automotive technology, and an eye for the smallest details. If someone is interested in the auto body field, they can take auto body in vocational. If someone were to take a tour of Andy’s facility, they would see vehicles in different stages of the repair process, from being taken apart, preparing new parts, and putting the parts on the vehicle to look as good as new.

Andy graduated from Brownstown Jr/Sr High School in 1992 and he still remembers teachers like Mr. Humes, Carl Griffith (the auto body vocational teacher), and Mrs. Curll.  Andy had two years of vocational auto body in high school. After graduating he joined the workforce for eight years before opening his business. If there was anything that he would tell a student in high school, it would be that anybody can run a business, but to succeed in that business you must hold yourself to a higher standard, work hard, always do good work, and treat customers the way you would want to be treated.

By Andrew Powell Jr.