Hitting back at hail damage

‘Modern-day cowboys’ chase hail storms across country for profit
Monday, April 3, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:47 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008


Ashley Bishop, a master dent technician from Memphis, has been doing paintless dent repair with a set of his custom-made tools since 2000. (SKY GILBAR/ Missourian)

Ashley Bishop’s corner of the Maaco garage is filled with hundreds of tools — tools for pushing, pulling and carefully tapping dents out of cars. He and his team of four travel the United States looking for their next job. They found good business in Columbia after a series of storms that hit March 11-12.

“We’re kind of like rock stars or modern-day cowboys,” Bishop said with a grin. “Instead of slinging guns, we’re slinging dent tools.”

Bishop will be in Columbia for the next six months with his company, Dent Genie, that he started in 2000. His business is contracted through Maaco Collision Repair and Auto Painting at 1007 Big Bear Blvd.

Genie Bishop — Bishop’s wife — is in Memphis, Tenn., with their two children: Nicole and Courtney. Dent Genie. Genie Bishop. No, it’s not a coincidence.

Bishop said his limited time with his family is important.

“Last year we went to Disney World for 10 days,” Bishop said. “Make the vacations long and good; make them worth it.”

The days when Bishop is not with his family, he’s usually in a garage somewhere, doing what he does best: pushing dents.

Bishop, born and raised in Memphis, saw a man come to town in 1987 after a hailstorm hit and damaged cars. That’s when he first saw the craft that would become his life and living.


Gary McLellan, a technician from Michigan, concentrates on fixing a dent on a car. McLellan and the other technicians work with a set of around 150 custom-made tools to work and finesse the dents out of body panels without affecting the paint job. According to McLellan, it takes dent technicians a couple of years to become proficient enough to do the job. (SKY GILBAR/ Missourian)

Since then, he’s worked with five paintless dent-removal companies, observing the methods used by each, and has traveled to nearly every major city in the United States working on damaged cars.

“There’s an art to it,” Bishop said. “It’s very difficult to take a car that looks like a golf ball and make it look original. Fixing one dent at a time, you’ll eventually get there.”

The worst damage Bishop witnessed was in New Mexico, while he was working in Los Lunas.

“The hail was the size of bowling balls and totaled every car in town,” Bishop said. “It beat the roofs of the cars in about a foot.”

Bishop said the extent of hail damage on Columbia cars in March is about the limit of what he will fix.

“The storm here is about as bad as I’ll go into myself,” Bishop said. “Anything worse than this, and I won’t mess with it.”

Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.