Here I am in the Mile High city. Denver is such a cool spot with all the geographic splendor and culture one could hope for. It also for some reason seems to be the auto body consolidation mecca of the world. As I traveled around the city, I saw every one of the major consolidators on practically every other corner. I was almost tempted to write an industry consolidation article, but I persevered and stayed the course to bring you my usual snapshot of an interesting shop.
Luckily, I was tipped off by a Porsche enthusiast that there was a unique shop in Englewood. I jumped on the phone and ended up talking with Valerie, who said she could get me an appointment with “the surgeon.” Surgeon? Yes, his name is Jon Bingham and he runs the business called the Metal Surgeon with his wife, Valerie. So off I went. The doctor was in.
I was greeted at the door by the creative sign on the right. I knew right away I was in a creative laboratory. Anyone who could dream up that marketing idea had to be a creative genius.
I found out Jon’s creativity is way beyond marketing. He’s what we call in the trades an artist. His craft is so precise that it’s in a league all by itself.
Jon got his training in England with a four-year degree in fabrication. That landed him apprenticeships at such renowned nameplates as Jaguar, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Land Rover and Volkswagen. Then, it was off to America to work for Metal Crafters in California. During that time, he started the business. He and Valerie moved it to Denver and the rest is history.
Wandering through the shop was like a trip to an automotive museum of the strange and different. It had everything from a beautiful 356 Porsche Cabriolet to an ultra-rare Jeep panel delivery truck. Of course, there were all the usual big fendered ’20s and ’30s cars too, but all of them shared one thing in common: they were all in bare metal form. You see, there is no paint in this shop. The surgeon does not do coatings, just pure perfect metal fabrication and preparation.
Jon and his three technicians have a pretty good backlog of work, with many customers waiting. There just are not that many guys out there who can fabricate a right fender for a 300 Gullwing using the left one as a pattern. I was absolutely awestruck by his ability to recreate a metal part out of a pattern or a rusted out remnant of a part.
Jon charges an hourly rate of $67 and works on a time and materials basis. Customers are invoiced weekly, and a very accurate estimate is given prior to beginning any project – which helps prevent any surprises that can come along with this type of work.
The beauty of this kind of shop is that it shows that there are so many avenues for our business to be channeled in. If you like production collision work, there’s plenty of it out there. If you like the more specialty type of work, there’s a spot for that, too. That’s what is so great about the automotive aftermarket. It’s a $290 billion business, and there is a spot for all of us.
Drop me a line if you know of a shop I should visit and I’ll put it on the list. Thanks again to Jon and Valerie! Check them out at www.themetalsurgeon.com.