Automotive body shops get a business boost from icy roads

ST. MARTIN, MS (WLOX) - Icy roads over the past week caused hundreds of fender-bender accidents. And while those banged-up cars may be a headache for the owners, it's an unexpected bonus for those in a certain automotive trade.

Mother Nature's wintry mix gave a business boost to automotive body shops. Icy road fender-benders mean job security for workers at automotive body shops.

"We're definitely seeing the impact of the ice, for sure," said Marcus Muller with Ferguson's Automotive.

Ferguson's on Lemoyne Boulevard is among the South Mississippi shops that felt the economic impact from the winter storms.

Hundreds of slippery road accidents definitely increased the car count.

"Friday it was pretty bad. We had upwards of 15 to 20 cars get dropped off due to the ice on Friday. I think more people stayed off the road this week, due to the ice," Muller explained.

Wayne Pitalo has seen some 20,000 damaged cars come through this shop during his two decades here. This past week's damage inventory was typical icy road bumps and bangs.

"We're seeing a lot of fender benders. A lot of front end collision. And pretty good sized wrecks. With the bridges down, the traffic got congested so that caused more wrecks," said Pitalo.

Pitalo says weather events can trigger a business boost for auto shops. He recalled all the vehicles that needed fixing in Hurricane Katrina's wake.

So, the recent forecast for icy roads certainly sent a signal to Ferguson's management team.

"It was kind of like, hey, we'll definitely get some business due to this. And we certainly have," said Muller.

Even though all those fender-benders boosted the numbers this past week, the workers were ready.

"We're a direct repair shop for a quite a bit of insurance companies. So we are used to the high volume. Now granted, getting more cars dropped off, it took more time for tear downs and stuff. But we were prepared," he said.

As WLOX News reported earlier, coast law enforcement agencies responded to more than 350 traffic accidents over the past week. Most of those wrecks, were minor fender-benders.

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