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New collision center offers body repair

Webber Collision Center and Webber Dock & Lift are up and running in a new location on County Highway 6 near Detroit Lakes. Work began on the building last summer, opening up in January. DL NEWSPAPERS/Paula Quam

Major accidents to door dings — Detroit Lakes area motorists now have a new place to take their vehicles to get them shined up like new pennies.

Webber Family Ford has recently extended its branches of service to include a new collision center.

The facility is located at 24901 County Highway 6, which is a few miles away from its dealership and service center on Wenner Road by Menards.

Crews have been working since July on transforming the building from a trucking facility, which is what it last was, into Webber’s new body shop.

In charge of the operation is manager Mark Larson, who has owned and managed similar body shops for about 20 years.

Larson says the facility is designed for customer convenience, starting with a drive up bay that takes them right inside in front of the desk, where professionals can instantly take a look at the damage for an on-the-stop estimate.

“And we handle all the insurance work,” said Larson. “The customer just has to get us the insurance information and we’ll take care of the rest.”

Larson says not only does the body shop work with all insurance companies, but despite Webber’s relationship with Ford-Chrysler-Dodge, they’re also qualified to work on all makes and models of vehicles.

Technicians at the body shop will take on anything from complete crunch-ups to hail damage.

“We do PDR touch ups, too,” said Larson, explaining how a paintless dent repair technique can save motorists a lot of money. “We can massage out door dings and things like that rather than having to do a whole paint job.”

But if a big paint job is needed, the collision center is set up for it.

A 1,700 square foot addition was built into the facility to accommodate a paint department, which includes a prepping area and a down-draft bake cycle.

“This is where we bake the paint so that once we’re done painting a vehicle, it heats up to 160 degrees, and it’s cured within 30 minutes,” said Larson, who adds that the number one goal is to stay on top of the ever-changing technology that the auto industry is known for.

“Gone are the days where you can just fix things at home,” said Larson, and even changing out a window switch requires reprogramming the vehicle’s entire computer system.

“Things have changed so much in the past five years, and that’s why we are constantly going to a different type of training here or there,” said Larson, adding that technicians at the Webber Collision Center are currently working on getting certification to handle an upcoming trend in all-aluminum bodies.

“And I am an airplane mechanic by trade with the Air Force, so working on aluminum isn’t a new thing for me,” added Larson, noting that vehicle makers are going this direction now because of fuel economy.

“So we’ll be certified to work on all-aluminum body vehicles,” said Larson, adding that the Webber Collision Center has an advantage over some others in the field because they are connected to a service center, so they’re able to handle just about any problem efficiently.

The collision center also sells a variety of accessories, including floor mats, running boards and bug shields.

It’s open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but Larson says because the Webber dealership is open longer and on Saturdays, they can get in touch with him for emergency situations to handle some things after-hours.

There is also a secured drop box located on the outside of the building for customers needing to drop their vehicles off before or after closing — they simply need to fill out a card with who they are and what their vehicle needs, along with leaving the keys.

Docks & Lifts

Also located in that same building is the Webber-owned boat lift and dock company. They were previously running that operation out of locations near their dealership, but manager Keith Skalin says the new facility gives that operation the space it needs.

“I have lots of room here,” said Skalin, who does the dock and lift sales out of the facility on County Highway 6, while also offering install, winterizing and storage services.

“And it’s nice because if I’m gone doing that, they (collision center employees) can help out and answer some questions that customers walking in here might have.”

For more information on Webber Dock & Lift, call Skalin at 218-847-2108 or to reach the Webber Collision Center, call 218-844-7400.

Paula Quam

Paula Quam is the editor for Forum Communications Co. newspapers in Detroit Lakes, Perham and Wadena, all in Minnesota.

(218) 844-1466