Reflecting on the Past
It’s an exciting time at FenderBender. After years of steady growth, we maxed out our old space in a multi-tenant office building in St. Paul, prompting a move in August to a new building that is all our own.
Company President Jay DeWitt worked with a local design firm to create a space that is remarkably modern and functional, with an automotive flare. That last bit is a nod to the industry in which we work, but it’s also reflective of our building’s past.
More than four decades ago, the space was the site of Schoonover Bodyworks, a family-run collision repair and mechanical service shop. The Schoonovers ran the business at the site from the early 1950s to the early 1970s, until moving to Shoreview, Minn., where they have thrived since. To offer a little taste of their growth path, Schoonover Bodyworks did $300,000 in annual sales before relocating in 1973. Today they generate $4 million.
Owner Mike Schoonover and his father, Dick, who owned the business previously, stopped by our new headquarters in September to reminisce. Mike, now 51, was just a boy when he experienced the space as a shop, but he remembers the way it was—the building jammed full of cars, trips to the shop with dad on cold winter days to make sure the heat was working.
As Dick, 79, walked through the space, he remembered everything vividly—where each piece of equipment was, the people and all of their mannerisms. And there were more specific recollections, like the spot in the shop where he stood when he found out President John F. Kennedy had been shot.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t think of something or some person from that time,” Dick says.
It’s humbling for us at FenderBender to work every day within the walls that once housed one of Minnesota’s premier body shops. And it’s a fitting spot from which to serve the greater industry, to help others achieve the same success that the Schoonovers have.
A big part of our effort in the next year, much like in 2015, will involve extending strategies and inspiration for business success beyond our print and online offerings. Following the overwhelming success of our first FenderBender Management Conference this past May in Philadelphia, we are gearing up for our second conference, planned for Sept. 19–21 at the Westin Lombard hotel near Chicago.
We hope you’ll be able to join us for another few days of high level networking with like-minded peers, business-building sessions from top industry pros, and some serious fun. Registration will again be capped to provide a better experience for attendees. To be the first to know about FenderBender Management Conference updates and discounts, sign up to be an Insider at fenderbenderconference.com.
And finally, I’d be remiss not to mention the special nature of this issue, which features the winners of our eighth-annual FenderBender Awards. Selecting the winners from a nationwide pool of peer-nominated candidates is one of the most difficult, yet rewarding, things we do each year. This year’s winners symbolize the very best of this industry. It is our privilege to share their stories.