Downtown Autobody & Wrecker Service to open in new location
By Iva Butler | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Downtown Autobody and Wrecker Service will open Monday in a new 17,000-square-foot, energy-efficient building at 2906 U.S. 411 South.
“Everything in the business is energy efficient,” said owner Dave Clark. “You can turn the lights and alarms on and off using cell phones,” he said.
“All the rooms have motion detection. When they are not in use, and no people are in the rooms, the lights go out. Every room has its own heat zone,” he added. The person using the room can set the thermostat to the preferred temperature.
The old location beside Maryville High School at 600 W. Broadway Ave., Maryville, will remain open as a service center for tires, oil and mechanical work.
“We try to do everything in-house,” said Clark.
The site of the original Downtown Autobody, located at the corner of Lincoln and Wright roads in Alcoa, will likely be sold.
Clark said it will be great to have all of the auto body work done under one roof. They have currently been repairing vehicles at the Maryville location and driving them to the Alcoa business to paint them.
The Alcoa business opened 11 years ago, while the Maryville location opened five years ago, but the business needs more space. “We’ve been very blessed to grow every year,” Clark said.
The business has 15 employees, none of whom have worked there for less than 6 years, and will likely add more with the new and larger location. “We’re lucky we have no employee turnover,” he said.
The business is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Clark said they may stay open until 7 p.m. a couple of nights a week to accommodate people getting off from work. The business draws customers from Blount, Knox, Loudon, Monroe and Sevier counties. Recently, they picked up a car in Georgia because the local resident didn’t want her vehicle worked on at a body shop there, he said.
Downtown Autobody offers 24-hour wrecker service, being on the tow lists for Alcoa, Blount County and Maryville police jurisdictions.
The new building was designed by Lewis Group Architects in Knoxville, while the contractor was RTC of Knoxville. The facility offers amenities for customers and employees. The waiting area has a 55-inch television, couches, chairs and stone floors, while decorations include an antique Coca-Cola machine with cartons and bottles.
Vintage Texaco and Red Crown gas pumps are in front of the entrance. “Gas was 36 cents a gallon when they were taken out of commission,” Clark said.
There are two offices for estimators and the shop contains a frame machine that aligns vehicles to factory specifications by a computer.
The paint booths are all state-of-the-art, utilizing Blowtherm 1.5 British Thermal Unit (BTU) heaters that recycle existing air, which cuts energy costs in half.
After being painted the cars go straight outside under an awning so they are out of the weather, Clark said.
The body shop has monitors that keep employees informed about the production schedule. As one job is completed, the next in line is on the computer.
The business has security cameras and a full kitchen for employees.
Clark moved here 12 years ago from the San Francisco Bay area in northern California with his wife, Victoria, and girls, Katelyn, now 22 and working at Clayton Homes, and Macy, now 19 and a student at Pellissippi State Community College.
Victoria’s father, David Bailey, was from Blount County and retired back here from California and her sister also moved here.
Clark sold the shop he owned in California and joined the family in Blount County. “I was lucky to sell the body shop just before the crunch hit,” he said.
“It was the best move I ever made. You can’t beat this place to live, plus I couldn’t afford California.”
“We’ve been very blessed. Blount County has been good for us,” said Clark, who lives in Friendsville.