Snap Shop: Wheelhouse Auto Body and Paint
Shop: Wheelhouse Auto Body and Paint Owner: Daron Wheelhouse Location: Pierre, S.D. Staff Size: 3 full-time, with 3 part-time Shop Size: 3,000 square feet Number of Lifts: 1 Average Monthly Car Count: 25-30
1. Place You Want To Be
Following two months of work to outfit a former lawn mower rental facility into a top-of-the-line collision repair shop, Wheelhouse Auto Body and Paint opened with its sign firmly planted the weekend of Thanksgiving, 2018.
“I wanted it to be a place I wanted to go,” says owner Daron Wheelhouse. “I wanted it to be a clean shop, not dirty. [Customers] walk in and they think, ‘This man really cares about it.”
2. Signs of Progress
Though he’d found a location right on Pierre, S.D.’s, main drag, Wheelhouse says he had his reservations about the 3,000-square-foot space—he says he first walked into it and thought, “There’s no way this is going to work.”
Nevertheless, it had a good foundation and that frontage, so he says he got to work, gutting the building, putting up tin throughout, while adding small flourishes. In his office he has palm trees, flora not native to South Dakota, meant as signs of progress—he’s gone from a single palm to three.
3. Equipped for Success
Wheelhouse says a “big part of our success” was his investment in equipment. The shop has a chassis liner, a Chief smart spot welder, a Global Finishing ES semi-downdraft paint booth that uses PPG Deltron, and more.
Keeping up solid working relationships with vendors, such as PPG, has helped the shop succeed, says Wheelhouse.
4. Plans to Expand
“I’ve lived in this town forever and our name is pretty good in this town,” says Wheelhouse, whose father also has a shop in Pierre.
That foundation and word of mouth buzz has helped Wheelhouse Auto Body and Paint outpace Wheelhouse’s two-year goals for the business. Wheelhouse recently purchased land south of the shop, with plans to build another shop space there in spring 2022.
For now, what can’t fit in Wheelhouse’s current and admittedly “tiny” space resides outside the shop in five shipping containers, which contain parts and equipment.
“I’m not in a hurry,” Wheelhouse says of the planned expansion, pointing out he wants to do it right.