The North Bend Eagle

  Ray's Body Shop
Ray Wesch, a life-long North Bender, stants in the paint booth of his auto body shop.

Wesch making transition to shop owner

by Nathan Arneal
Published 7/31/13

In 1974, Adolph Wesch was painting his John Deere tractor when he decided to let his teenage son have a shot at it.

“He handed me the paint gun,” Ray Wesch said, “and I’ve been hooked ever since.”

That first experience with John Deere green led to a career for the younger Wesch. After graduating from North Bend Central in 1979 and two years of tech school in Milford, Ray Wesch has been painting, buffing, and pulling dents ever since.

He spent his early career working at body shops in Fremont, David City and North Bend before he latched on with Matt’s Body Shop in his hometown 16 years ago.

When Matt Shaw wanted to get out of the auto body business, he turned to his long-time employee.

“I’ve always talked about opening up my own shop, but I’ve been a little afraid to do it,” Wesch said. “The opportunity came up and (Shaw) said, ‘I’ll rent the building to you for so much a month and you can take over.’ It was a no-brainer for me. Instead of going to another shop and starting over from the bottom of the pole and working my way back up again, here’s my kick in the butt to go in that direction. I decided to do it.”

Wesch took over the business on April 1, renaming the business at 6th and Hickory “Ray’s Body Shop.”

Wesch said the transition from being an employee to a business owner has been an interesting one. Adding the administrative work to the body work has been an eye-opening experience.

“I didn’t realize how much time it took to write the estimates and deal with the insurance companies, order parts and stuff like that,” Wesch said. “When Matt brought a car in here, I’d tell the customer, ‘Yeah, I’ll have it for a day and a half.’ Now, it all depends on how many phone calls I got to answer, how many estimates I got to write. It ends up being three days I have the car. I feel bad, but I’m the only one here doing all the work.”

Eventually, Wesch would like to add an employee to share the work load, but for the foreseeable future, he will be the sole employee of Ray’s Body Shop.

“Starting out right now, it’s kind of like you see the last rung on the ladder, but there’s always something down below you saying, ‘No, you’re not reaching that goal yet,’” he said.

Wesch’s love of cars started at an early age, when he used to draw cars in grade school. Now, his favorite part of the business is restoring old cars to their former glory. Unfortunately, that side of the business is a small one.
“I’d love to have strictly restoration shop,” Wecsh said, “but insurance (work) pays more bills than restorations do.”

Work has been steady since he took over the business four months ago. Most of the work paid for by insurance companies is spot repairs, but he also does complete body repair and paint jobs as well as the occasional restoration project. He has also used his paint booth to for some non-automotive jobs, like painting metal doors to match new construction.

“I’m getting used to it,” Wesch said of his new business venture, “but I’m trying to transfer from employee to owner. It’s working out pretty good so far. It could always be busier, but there’s never a lack of things to do.”

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