Snow = fender-benders = auto body business |

Snow = fender-benders = auto body business

SUMMIT COUNTY – When snowfall came fast and heavy last week, and highway officials shut down the roads leading to Summit County, it wasn’t good news for business owners. Unless you’re Gabby Lane, that is – in which case, you didn’t see snow, you saw dollar signs.

Lane, owner of Silverthorne Auto Body, said Thursday that business is booming. In fact, his garage is booked through April, and he’s now booking into May for repairs.

“This has been pretty much a normal year,” Lane said. “Up here, people don’t need an excuse like weather to crash up the car – it’s party time, you know. But about this time, things get to slowing down. We might be busy a little longer now.”

The car repair business suffers like other enterprises when the economy sours. When people don’t have enough cash, small automotive fixes drop on the priority list. Inclement weather has a way of motivating drivers to get their cars into safe condition, as well as leading to accidents that necessitate repairs.

“It could snow till August, personally,” Lane said. “For the auto body business, snow is dollars floating down from heaven.”

Heavy snowfall isn’t all good news, though. Breckenridge Auto Body’s Cathy Lambert said a flood of motorists all needing help and needing to get somewhere – all at the same time – can put a strain on mechanics and other staff. Lambert said the shop didn’t see a huge increase in the number of accidents last week, but the Interstate 70 closure concentrated business.

The highway closure also kept parts deliveries away, said Ronny Mondragon at the Jim Hudson Cheverolet Olds body shop. Business is good, thanks to the snowstorm, he said, but the parts situation is driving him crazy.

“It’s resolving itself this week, but it’s been a fiasco the last 10 days,” Mondragon said.

Mondragon said, like in most other things in life, moderation is best in snowstorms. In a light storm, he said, drivers don’t pay attention and continue driving fast and close to other cars – leading to more accidents. In severe storms, “people panic, pay attention and slow down,” he said.

Heavy traffic in the shop and a tight economy also can force mechanics to get creative. With so many people dependent on their cars for jobs, Lane said, a fender-bender can be a catastrophe.

“Most folks are out there working two jobs, and they can’t be without a car,” Lane said. “We try to keep everybody mobile. I’ve lost count of how many cars are duct-taped and wired tight, super-glued – whatever it takes to get them to their job. You’ve got to find some humor in this type of work.”

Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237, or

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