SHERIDAN — HAILUSA, which is operating a paintless dent repair service out of the parking lot of the former Little Big Man Family Restaurant on Coffeen Avenue, had people drive by Friday when technicians were working on Sheridan Police Department squad cars and yell at them.
“People are driving by yelling, ‘Taxpayers money!’ or something. We don’t pay much attention. There’s not much you can do when they come flying through your lot,” HAILUSA Manager Michael Cornelison said.
“I think people want to keep the money local, and I understand that, but when a storm hits of this magnitude, a local shop can’t handle everything. When you have thousands of cars that are damaged, you’re going to have to outsource somewhere,” he added.
HAILUSA, which is based out of Missouri, has been in Sheridan since June 18. The company does paintless dent repair, which involves getting beneath the metal and slowly massaging the dents out until they go back to normal.
Cornelison said he feels he and his technicians have added to the local economy by leasing the parking lot, staying in local hotels, eating out every night, paying for advertising with local media and paying Wyoming taxes.
Cornelison said HAILUSA also buys all its parts at Sheridan Motors and works in conjunction with Jack’s Auto Body Specialists for larger body work and painting repairs.
He said they are bonded and have a license to operate in Sheridan and the state of Wyoming.
Capt. Scott Chandler with the Sheridan Police Department said the department sought estimates to fix damaged patrol cars from Hammer Chevrolet and Jack’s Auto Body. Hammer Chevrolet said it was too busy to do estimates at that time. Jack’s Auto Body squeezed in 12 damaged patrol cars for estimates, Chandler said.
The choice to use HAILUSA rather than a local shop came down to price; speed of service — both in total days of down time for each car and total length of wait time to get in for repairs — and HAILUSA’s partnership with local vendors and body shops, Chandler said.
Jack’s estimated a completion date of February or March for the hail-damaged patrol cars versus September with HAILUSA.
“As a taxpayer, if I saw a police car driving around that’s less than a year old that was all beat to heck, I’d be upset. That’s not a positive image for the Police Department, I don’t think,” Chandler said.
Price also played a factor.
The total estimate for repairs on the 12 damaged cars came to $63,902.87 at Jack’s. The department decided not to repair some of the damaged cars that were estimated at more than their worth. A 2012 Dodge received an estimate of more than $15,000 in repairs from Jack’s versus $7,950 at HAILUSA.
So far, the police department has received estimates on five cars from HAILUSA and plans to get two more estimates. On the five cars already estimated, HAILUSA can offer $9,324 in savings, Chandler said, which he sees as a savings for taxpayers, too.
The city of Sheridan is part of two insurance pools that are established by state statute, city Clerk Scott Badley said. Property damage is covered under the Wyoming Association of Risk Management. City property is insured under the Local Government Liability Pool.
“Everybody pays a premium based on the amount of assets they have in the pool, and then the pool pays for repairs minus the deductible per occurrence,” Badley said.
The deductible for WARM is $5,000 per event, Badley said. For example, all cars damaged in a single hail event will require a $5,000 total deductible to be met on repairs and replacements resulting from that one event.
The department has purchased two windshields and some mirrors and tail lights locally for three separate cars, Chandler said. Additionally, HAILUSA has partnered with Jack’s Auto Body for bigger repairs such as painting new hoods or replacing entire panels on cars.
Jack’s gets paid for the work it does for HAILUSA, Chandler said, adding that Jack’s said it would support and cover work done by HAILUSA.
“The city’s policy is to promote buy local. Local vendors are to be given a shot at the business. No local vendor has asked for a guarantee of business, only fair consideration,” Mayor Dave Kinskey said.
“The police department assures me and the council that they did solicit local firms, and the company selected is working with a local firm on all of the vehicle repair,” Kinskey continued. “Still, we welcome any suggestions for improvement to our buy local process. We want to shop local, and it helps if local firms, interested in the city’s business, work with the city as well to advise it of their interest and abilities.”
County Administrative Director Renee Obermueller said the county repaired one vehicle that was parked at the sheriff’s office that was damaged by hail. A few others were damaged, but the county has decided not to repair them. The one vehicle that was repaired was taken to Jack’s Auto Body, Obermueller said.