My name is Ray Stalnaker, this is my very first blog post ever. I have zero experience writing but I do have experience in reconditioning vehicles. My goal with this blog is to write about Making Cars New Again by various reconditioning process’ like Paintless Dent Repair, Interior Repair, Wheel Repair, Headlight Restoration etc etc.
I have lived in Middle Tennessee my whole life, I was born in Nashville, TN at the Baptist Hospital on August 1st 1984, We lived in Murfreesboro, TN until I was about 9 years old when we moved to Cookeville, TN for about 6 months and then to Byrdstown, TN for about 1 year, we then bought a house on 7 acres in McMinnville, TN when I was about 11 where I lived until I moved to Albuquerque, NM and got married in 2004. My Dad owned a Paintless Dent Repair or (PDR) business that serviced McMinnville, Manchester, Cookeville and Crossville, I started riding with him when I was around 10 years old and was able to pick up a lot about the automotive industry at a very young age. I started attempting to make my own PDR tools in 2002 (factory made tools were just gaining popularity at the time). In 2003 the Nissan dealer in Cookeville bought about 150 severely hail damaged Nissan Altima’s that my dad got the contract to repair, it was on these cars that I got my initial training in PDR learning by doing, working on quarter panels and practicing some on the roofs while also doing all the R&I (Remove & Install of headliner, taillights etc) on all the vehicles. In 2004 one of my Uncles offered me a job with his PDR company in Albuquerque, NM, I was 19 years old and ready learn more! I packed up and flew out there and started working on cars right away, first in Albuquerque and then in Carlsbad, NM where a hail storm had hit. I worked for 2 months honing my skills and saving up money before I asked my girlfriend Jill to fly out and marry me. She flew out and we were married in my grandmothers living room by my Dad in a very simple ceremony. We rented an apartment in Albuquerque, bought a couple of puppies and started our life with nothing but a borrowed card table and folding chairs, borrowed couch and a mattress on the floor that we owed my aunt and uncle for, I can still remember when we decided to splurge and buy a TV, we got one of those fancy flat screen models; CRT they were called, we borrowed a VHS player and were good to go! After working for about 6 or 7 months out west I convinced my brother to join us and learn the PDR trade, he and his wife and new born baby moved out soon after and started training with my uncle, shortly after my brother and his family arrived in town a massive hail storm hit Albuquerque, we (my uncles company) ended up bringing in about 15 sub contracted PDR technicians to help repair thousands of hail damaged cars. All of those hail damaged vehicles gave me the opportunity to get a lot of hands on experience repairing hail damaged vehicles while also keeping up my service route which included the local Dodge dealer, Nissan Dealer, Chevrolet Dealer and some wholesalers. When we found out we were going to have our first baby we started thinking about moving back to Tennessee. In late 2005 we packed up and moved back to Cookeville, TN where Jill had grown up. After a brief time working in construction there was a hail storm in the McMinnville area in 2006, so I decided to go work with my Dad helping him repair the damage done by this storm in the area. In 2007 my uncle from Albuquerque asked me to work for him again in Nashville, TN and I agreed, we built a service route in the Nashville area that I worked with my brother until 2011 when I decided to start my own company Dent Therapist LLC, so we packed up the family (3 kids by this time) and hit the road chasing hail storms for 2 years. After 2 years living on the road we decided to settle back down in Nashville and build a service route, we moved to Franklin, TN in 2014 and continued building our PDR Service business in the Nashville area. In 2014 we hired and trained Brad, our first technician, When I got Brad trained we decided to chase a few hail storms in 2014 and 2015. After we had our 5 child we decided it was time to settle down for good, we sold our house in Franklin and bought 18.64 acres in Buffalo Valley, TN ( a few miles west of Cookeville). We lived in our 40′ 5th wheel RV for 1 year on our property before moving to an apartment that Jill’s parents had available where we are currently living while we prepare to begin building a house on our property in Buffalo Valley. In 2015 we hired Derek, a 18 year technician to run our Nashville Shop and had to let our first technician, Brad go. We are currently in the process of training Scott to be a world class PDR technician and run a service route to our regular wholesale customers in Nashville and Cookeville. In August 2016 we decided to lease a location in Cookeville to provide automotive reconditioning services to the public in Cookeville.
This has been a long winded post but I just wanted to give y’all an overview of my background so that you’ll better know whos writing in future posts. In my next post I plan to talk a little bit about the basic trades within automotive reconditioning.