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Family-Run Body Shop in Georgia Celebrates 50 Years

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May 10, 2022—Modern Body Shop in Athens, Georgia is celebrating 50 years in business.

According to the Athens Banner-Herald, the collision repair shop was started in 1972 by Gene Sapp, who passed away last August at the age of 88.

“We want to honor his legacy and what he built,” says Gene's son Lamar Sapp. "He was a self-made man. He came from poor beginnings in south Georgia,”

Gene Sapp joined the U.S. Army at age 16. After he met his wife, they decided to move to Athens because her father had a farm there. Once they moved to the town, Sapp started working in the body shop department of a J. Swanton Ivy Chrysler Dodge dealership.

He got a business administration degree from the University of Georgia in the 1960s, and he purchased a body shop and then used that shop's equipment to start Modern Body in 1972. 

“He worked in the business actually until he passed away. He turned it over to me about 35 years ago,” says Lamar. “I’m 65 years old and I was 15 when we started the business, so this is all I’ve ever done. When I’d come home from Cedar Shoals (High School) in the afternoon, I worked here. When I was 16 years old, I was driving a tow truck in the afternoon and washing cars.”

In addition to Lamar, Gene Sapp's sons David and Jeff have been with the body shop since the 1970's. Gene's grandson, Jake, is also involved with the shop. 

In recognition of a half-century of business, Modern Body is hosting an anniversary celebration on May 13 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. There will be coffee, donuts and biscuits from local restaurants. 

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