Body shop keeps success revving for 30 years

REED CITY — For more than 30 years, Russell’s Body Shop has been a staple in the Reed City area, and one that is expanding more than owner Russell Koepnick ever imagined.

He began the business after high school and never looked back, putting time and care into his projects, which now range from replacing parts to fleet work. He said he always had a love for cars.

“What got my attention in the business is watching color go on the car, whether it was red, green, yellow, blue or whatever,” Koepnick said.

A fan of muscle cars, the business logo is a blue 1969 Camaro, which Koepnick has an exact model of at the site. To this day he is working on its restoration.

After three decades in business, he said he is grateful to the community for their support and is happy to provide the best service possible.

HERALD REVIEW: Give a brief explanation of what your business does or specializes in.

RUSSELL KOEPNICK: We do multiple things. We have an auto body collision repair shop, which originally started in 1980 and also the restoration shop. We’ve grown into a fleet division that my son operates and we’ve gotten really big into spraying truck bed liners. We stay pretty busy.

How did you come to establish your business?

KOEPNICK: I started in a co-op program and right out of high school in 1979. I had nothing to do. My dad had a pole barn he let me borrow and we started right there. I think the first thing I painted was a wheelbarrow.

What sets you apart from other similar businesses?

KOEPNICK: I think our diversity. We just have so much we can do, like sandblasting, polishing aluminum on semi trailers, a fleet division where we paint equipment and of course the bed liners. We also have the body shop here.

How do you give back to the community?

KOEPNICK: We give back to anybody we can. We’ve given heavily to the Susan P. Wheatlake Regional Cancer Center and to a lot of 4-H stuff. Several people join our golf outings for different causes. We do our best to try and give back. It’s only fair. We get from the community so we like to give back.

What is a trend you’ve been seeing with your company or customers?

KOEPNICK: High deductibles. People don’t realize that when they have to get their car fixed they have to come up with $500 or $1,000 until they need it done. Everybody has raised their policy deductibles and I don’t think customers believe they’re ever going to need it, but it happens every day. I try to tell them they might want to think about fixing their car, because in the long run it might not be worth it. They’re not saving any money.

What is the best and worst part of being in the business you’re in?

KOEPNICK: The best part is when somebody leaves here telling us we’ve done a great job and they tell somebody else we’ve done a good job. Being able to make enough profit to help charities is also a good thing. It really sucks, though, when somebody’s not happy. It doesn’t happen very often, but when somebody is not happy with what you’ve done, that really hurts. We do the best we can for anybody and everybody. You strive for that.