By Steve McLinden
On a fateful Sunday night in October, Barrett Roush was at his Dallas home following TV coverage of the multiple twisters that laid low blocks of homes and businesses in Dallas and caused extensive damage in suburbs Garland, Rowlett, and Midlothian, when he got a dreaded text from his landlord.
His two-year-old, full-service body shop on Shady Trail in central Dallas, Dent Mavericks, had been pummeled in the strongest of the twisters, an EF-3 storm featuring winds up to 140 miles per hour. Damage was so massive that the building was not be fixable, Roush was told.
Upon inspection, Dent Mavericks’ large sliding doors had been ripped away in the Oct. 29 storm, sections of the roof and walls had given way, and two customer cars had been totaled, among other damage. Not far away, an entire Home Depot store had been ripped to pieces, with dozens of other businesses suffering similar fates.
Two ensuing heavy rains within a day’s time essentially finished off the body shop. Only small tools were salvageable, Roush said.
Roush’s world, like the walls of his shop, seemed to be crashing down. In a little over two years, the shop’s business had grown steadily and the future was looking rosy. Then the worst happened.
But Roush, by nature an upbeat person, quickly pulled himself together.
“Right away, I told everyone, Let’s just figure this out,’” he said. Meanwhile, Roush quickly decided to keep paying his workers’ as they waited to occupy a new shop space the owner hoped to quickly find.
After a short site search, Roush found a spacious new location in an industrial area about a mile and a half away “that just kind of fell into our laps,” he said. “[The owners) hadn’t even advertised the space yet.”
Work didn’t screech to a total halt after the storm. Roush’s staff was able to repair dings and perform other cosmetic work, but the bigger jobs had to be outsourced to four shops that Roush had found to be reliable partners in the past. Dent Mavericks would have recouped more of its losses if the city wouldn’t have taken more than 10 weeks to issue a certificate of occupancy (C.O.) for the new location.
“It’s been difficult,” Roush admitted. “We missed out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in business.”
While insurance, including business-replacement coverage, took care of most of the damage, Dent Mavericks really wasn’t made whole. By its nature, such coverage doesn’t fully compensate lost work, he said.
Barrett and his vice president of sales and marketing, Tyler Pence, even appeared on local ABC Channel 8’s “Good Morning Texas” to talk about the catastrophe, its aftermath, and the new shop.
Flash forward to a mid-January day recently. The crew finally had its C.O. for the new location and was awaiting delivery of office and reception-area furnishings from Nebraska Furniture. The decidedly upscale chairs and desks and other accoutrements arrived just a half hour into Automotive Report’s visit.
Despites the tornado losses, Roush didn’t pinch pennies on new decor.
“People want to come in and feel welcome here and see people who have a drive for success,” he said, as delivery men carted in several chair costing $400 to $500 apiece. “We want the place to look like [the upscale car dealership] Park Place and want customers to feel like we will do the best possible work they can find.”
The shop’s informal motto, in fact, is: “Your car-repair concierge.”
Roush vows to not cut corners on any customer repair and get repaired cars back in the hands of owners in a five-to-seven-day window. Many turnarounds are shorter. The staff can work on nearly any size vehicle, evidenced by the shop’s repair of four buses for a large local church Roush said.
The brunt of Dent Mavericks’ business has come by referral. It is also one of the rare body shops that hasn’t suffered a single bad online review. Google reviewers give Dent Mavericks a perfect 5.0 rating.
Wrote one woman: “Quality of work, service and customer experience were beyond anything one could wish for, the absolute best. The whole experience was effortless and stress-free — they’re almost too good to be true these days!” Noted another reviewer: “What a great experience — I took my truck in on Monday afternoon and got it back by end-of-day Thursday. This was a painless process.”
Hail-damage is the shop’s founding specialty, though it can now do any body-repair job. Roush got into the business after he became disillusioned with a short-lived career in medical-device sales, which he exited after a friend asked him to partner with him in a body business that would go on to generate $600,000 in revenue in Roush’s first six months.
Roush proved to be an active partner with an aptitude for repair work and for pulling in new customers. But the “friend” pushed him out, leaving Roush to seek other opportunities. He pulled together enough funds to start his own rented hail-specialty shop, which soon broadened its services to include all body repairs.
“I have a customer-service background and I love helping people, so I feel at home doing this,” he said.
Because the industry’s reputation had suffered from a small percentage of unethical operators who take advantage of people or are excruciatingly slow to repair their cars, Roush set out to make Dent Mavericks the exact opposite of that.
“I found that if you repair a car right and do it fast, customers will always come back and refer other people to you,” said the Tulsa native. “They like ‘fast.’”
Later in the month of February, the shop will is slated to take over 12,000 square feet of space next door that was previously home to Prime Limo. That gives Roush’s operation a total of 21,000 square feet to work with at its new address of 9233 Denton Drive, which is a few hundred yards from Love Field airport. Future plans may include additional locations and a separate roof-repair/remodeling business, tentatively titled Maverick Construction.
Next to Denver, the Dallas-Fort Worth area is the second most hail-prone market in the country, which bodes well for future success, Roush said. What’s more, the area produces more than its fair share of accidents.
“Frankly, there are a lot of terrible drivers here,” he said.
Add to that the relative poor performances of large national body-shop chains, sending many frustrated customers to Dent Mavericks’ door, “and we will stay really busy.”
One other thing seems likely: the worst is over for Dent Mavericks.
“It’s been a rough three months,” summarized Roush. “But now there is light at the end of the tunnel.” •