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Auto body shops are 'essential' during pandemic. Here's what they're doing to keep customers safe

Posted at 3:22 PM, Apr 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-05 23:03:55-04

No one is supposed to be doing much traveling right now, but auto repair shops remain open throughout Ohio and Kentucky for people who have no choice but to hit the road — “doctors, nurses, law enforcement, firefighters,” among others.

Gregg Smith, who owns Boruske Brothers Collision Center in Dayton, Kentucky, said staying open during a pandemic means working much harder to protect customers and workers from potentially contracting COVID-19.

“We disinfect the vehicles when they come in,” Smith said. “Door handles, gear shifts, all that. The guys wear gloves, the guys wear respirators.”

In Alexandria, Kentucky, Community Car Care owner Scott Fleckinger closed his office to customers and now communicates with them over the phone, even when they’re parked outside.

“We use seat covers, steering wheel covers” on every car his crews work on, he said. “And then, when the car is finished, we sanitize the HVAC system and the heating and air conditioning ducts.”

Both businesses also offer options for customers who don’t want to physically visit the shop themselves. Instead, the customer can call in and ask a worker to come to their home, pick up the car, service it and drop it back off.

Smith also uses mobile estimates, encourages customers to schedule repairs by phone or email, and accepts remote payment methods via phone or internet.

Fleckinger said the pandemic represents the biggest change his business has seen in its entire 32 years of operation.

“The crash in 2008 was pretty big, but nothing to have this type of impact,” he said. “Lot of people staying home. Lot of people are afraid.”

But, he wrote in an email to WCPO, he’s never laid off an employee and doesn’t plan to start during the crisis.

Other local auto repair shops that remain open during the pandemic include AUW Customs Auto Body and Repair in Wyoming, Ohio, Superior Imports Ltd. in Burlington, Kentucky, and all Midas locations.