interviewed and written by Richard Routson
Ryan Hampton has been repairing hail damaged cars for 14 years. Similar to other guys in the industry, Ryan’s paintless dent repair journey has been a long winding road of personal and professional growth. Those that know the talkative PDR networker now, would hardly recognize the timid quiet painter back in 2001.
Ryan discovered PDR when a body shop he was painting cars for in St. Louis, Missouri was hit with one of the largest, most expensive hail storms to ever hit North America.
“It was softball sized hail. Every car in our lot was destroyed. It was so bad I called the police in the morning and told them we had been vandalized.”
The body shop contracted the PDR work to a hail chaser who taught Ryan the basics of the trade over the next year in exchange for paint work that was required on the damaged cars. The following year Ryan made the difficult decision to leave his day job and work his first hail storm pushing dents 5 hours from home. After his first hail gig, that was just okay, Ryan returned home and tried to establish a local PDR route. He struggled all winter trying to find work and provide for his family.
“I had one good dealership account that I was able to bill five to eight hundred dollars a week. Everything else was random rock lots and wholesalers. I was broke. I sold everything I could on ebay; paint guns, grinders, my Rusty Wallace Snap-On tool box. By February it was grim. I was three months behind on my mortgage. I even thought about selling the house and going back to painting cars.”
When he was literally down to his last dollar, Ryan’s one dealership was hit by a perfect hail storm.
“It was the best hail damage I have ever worked. You’re talking 60-75 dime to nickel sized dents on 2002 Cavaliers, Malibus, Colorados, Silverados. It was perfect.”