When we look back at the last 12, even 18 months, the resounding theme for body shops across the country has been adaptability. Along with the day-to-day challenges that shops face in any given year, this year they’ve had to contend with dramatically lower car counts due to COVID-19 and now parts and technician shortages.
To not only keep the business afloat in these past 12 months but to be successful wasn’t easy. We’ve heard from many shop owners confirming that. So when we took on the task of choosing the 2021 FenderBender Awards winner, we knew it needed to be someone who embodied resilience and adaptability. With that focus, no shop owner stood out more than Scott Fabel, owner of Fabel Collision and Repair.
Fabel was born into this industry. His father owned a heavy-duty truck dealership and it quickly became his playground. It’s where he grew up, where he learned, and it’s where he decided that his career would be in the automotive industry. That story isn’t unique to Fabel. It’s how many shop owners got their start. But Fabel’s journey to collision repair deviates from that point.
Fabel has always been a “truck guy.” So when he went out on his own, he started in the heavy-duty world. It’s a space that still occupies a large majority of his business, about 75 percent. From truck wash to mechanical repair to collision work, Fabel developed a one-stop shop for commercial vehicles. That has been his bread and butter. And he could’ve stayed there. Except Fabel hasn’t been content to stay put.
In 2000 he expanded into collision repair of everyday vehicles and in 2017 the shop became part of the CARSTAR network. He’s maintained excellence in both the heavy- and light-duty aspects of the business while remaining the cutting edge. Fabel recently became the second shop in the state of Wisconsin to become Tesla certified, coupling it with many other certifications including Ford, GMC, Jeep, Nissan, Infiniti, Subaru and Kia. Fabel has also invested in state of the art equipment like a gas catalytic dryer.
That diversification has allowed the business to have the ultimate adaptability. When COVID-struck and the light-duty collision repair business grinded to a halt, Fabel moved all of his regular body technicians over to the heavy-duty side until the CARSTAR location rebounded to ensure they weren’t laid off. That allowed Fabel’s entire business to grow by 23 percent over the past year.
But being an award winner is not just about the business. It’s about being a top all-around shop owner and a pillar in the community. Fabel donated roughly 70 percent of his mask inventory to the local hospital. When he saw several of his family members who work in dentistry were struggling, he sent sanitizer to them and surrounding local dental offices.
And be on the lookout for more content with Fabel and the runners-up in the near future!