‘Dingman Difference’ rings true amid family’s culture of structural integrity

Oct. 30, 2017
At Dingman’s Collision Center in Nebraska, family patriarch Boyd Dingman’s title is simply that of “teammate,” underscoring a management philosophy that’s totally driven toward delivering the highest quality service and repairs. They call it the “Dingman Difference.”

At Dingman’s Collision Center in Nebraska, family patriarch Boyd Dingman’s title is simply that of “teammate,” underscoring a management philosophy that’s totally driven toward delivering the highest quality service and repairs. They call it the “Dingman Difference.”

“We are a family owned and operated business that has roots in the auto body industry since the 1930s,” Boyd says, reflecting on the company’s longstanding commitment to top performance in each of its four locations – plus a newly minted mechanical shop – throughout the Omaha area.

At a Glance:
Dingman's Collision Center
Main location
The Dingman family
4 body shops; 1 mechanical shop
No. of shops
Years in business
No. of DRPs
No. of employees
18; 22; 24; 17
No. bays per shop
Paint supplier
CCC and Audatex
Estimating systems used

Many others agree: Dingman’s numerous accolades include an Integrity Award from the Better Business Bureau and a Business of the Year designation bestowed by the local Chamber of Commerce along with category-clinching Best of Omaha honors for 13 years running as voted upon by the readers of Omaha Magazine.

“When you win stuff outside of your industry it’s particularly nice,” says Boyd in response to the public’s acclaim. Industry-oriented stature is an equally appreciated achievement as son Andy has garnered a lot of professional accolades as immediate past-chairman of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS).

A strong sense of family is seen throughout the bustling enterprise established by Boyd and his wife Diana, who oversees office operations. Daughter Darcie directs the marketing strategies while assisting Diana with accounting and other administrative duties in support of Andy’s day-to-day operational oversight. Another son, Travis, is a repair process manager at the Maple shop.

Andy has recently been promoted to president of the company, moving up from general manager. “He takes the biggest load of the headaches,” according to Boyd, an avid Facebook poster widely known for his pithy quips along with constructing, customizing and collecting exotic envy-inducing chopper motorcycles. (His award-winning “Blackbird Bike” was profiled in the January edition of Easyriders Magazine.)

“Our motto at Dingman’s is: ‘We would rather be the best than apologize for anything less.’ We expect this from each and every position; we are always striving to be the best in everything we do.”

Each of the shops displays yet another Boyd quote stating that “If Better is Possible, Good is Not Enough!”

“We embrace change and stay ahead of the curve in the industry by being involved nationally, and we work to create change locally as well,” he explains.

More than 15 OEM certifications have been obtained, including Tesla. “Our dedication to state-of-the-art technology and the latest vehicle education has resulted directly in our status as the first and only Certified Tesla Service Center in Nebraska.”

Engineered with groundbreaking technology and design, a Tesla is incredibly complex to fix. “An improper repair at one point could cause mechanical or digital errors elsewhere.” A variety of unique components requires strict protocols and OEM-only parts to avoid cascading issues – the technicians achieved expert instruction by traveling to the automaker’s training facility in Fremont, Calif.

Large-volume orders

“We are an independent shop that does not depend on DRPs (Direct Repair Program affiliations); we believe in repairing vehicles to the manufacturer standards, and we do not take shortcuts,” Boyd says. “We are known for going to bat for the customer with the insurance company to ensure proper, safe repairs.”

He elaborates by emphasizing that “our customer is the vehicle owner, not the insurance company. We not only repair your vehicle to look like it did before the accident, but we make sure that the safety is put back in as well. We make your vehicle whole again.”

In working with insurance providers, “Over time you build a relationship and a trust. They understand that we are going to be fair to them and we expect the same from them. We ask to be compensated only for the repair procedures that we do and are necessary to the repair.”

Vendor relationships are likewise characterized by stressing cooperation and adhering to internal competence regarding production procedures. “We do our best to be a good partner in all working relationships. We work hard to have accurate parts orders so that there are fewer returns, which makes everyone happy,” Boyd says.

“We also work to have all locations ordering from the same vendors, resulting in large-volume orders to our suppliers from Dingman’s. We try to be loyal to our vendors, resulting in positive relationships with suppliers.”

Continuity and excellence are enhanced by having a stable, contented staff. Advertisements are placed when an opening does become available. “However,” according to Boyd, “word of mouth by our current employees is a great recruitment tool. We have consistently busy shops, when other shops are slow and sending home their techs, ours still have work coming in the door. We have created a great name for ourselves in our industry, which leads to great employees coming to work for us as well as bringing work through the door.”

Making a good move

“I grew up in Ding’s Body Shop,” says Boyd, referring to his father Francis’ business in Garner, Iowa. “When you have a name like Dingman…” Well, yes, it does invite a series of not-always-flattering nicknames, and Francis nicked that situation in the bud by cheerfully embracing “Ding” as the moniker that proudly adorned the embroidered label affixed to his uniform shirt.

Boyd and Diana decided on Dingman’s when opening an eponymous shop in Waverly, Iowa. After 11 years in business, though, the highway out front was widened and eminent domain claimed the property.

“We got less money for the building than we had put into it in the last five years,” he recounts. Boyd hired on at Sherwin-Williams, rising through the ranks and earning an offer to relocate to a choice of several out-of-town locales. “We chose Omaha, and it was a good move.”

Subsequently Boyd and Diana opened their first Omaha shop over on Saddle Creek Road in 1997 after totally remodeling a structure that had served as a water bottling company.

Ambitious expansion was a key goal, and in 2006 they purchased a former mechanical shop at the corner of 120th and Maple, adding an addition to house the paint booth. A bowling alley on the corner of 144th and Industrial Road was the next acquisition in 2010. “This was a big undertaking,” Boyd recalls. “There were many different contractors working to transform the bowling alley into a body shop.” This is where the main office is headquartered.

In 2013 an old Chrysler dealership was purchased in downtown Papillion, Neb. “The majority of the building needed repaired and replaced. The steel framework was about the only thing not replaced.”

Last year the Dingmans bought a convenience store next door to 120th and Maple. “We demolished the convenience store and built a brand new building that would better serve our auto body needs. We moved our body shop into this new building, as it has about twice the amount of working space. In the original building we opened Dingman’s Mechanical Repair.” The body shop was up and running in the new building in May of 2017 and the mechanical shop started operations in June.

“We advertise through radio, television and billboards along with a few specific local print magazines,” Boyd reports. “We are very involved in our community and sponsor many local events that also bring about brand awareness.”

A customer testimonial attests to the effectiveness of the overall focus on operational organization, attention to detail and marketing presence. “I had heard about the ‘Dingman Difference’ on the radio but hadn’t experienced it first-hand until my recent car accident,” the pleased patron posted.

“It’s hard to put into words how extremely satisfied I am about the tremendous job your company did repairing my damaged Mercedes and returning it to me in even better shape than I could have imagined,” he continued. “Your personal advice and professional expertise, while not unexpected, was very much appreciated. You and your staff certainly exemplified the integrity, honesty and customer service that your company has long been known and recognized for.”

About the Author

James Guyette

James E. Guyette is a long-time contributing editor to Aftermarket Business World, ABRN and Motor Age magazines.

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