Independently owned Stark County company has put more than 75,000 Northeast Ohio cars and trucks on the road again by mastering the art of auto body repair.
For 57 years, Custom Auto Body has been lending a helping hand to Stark County residents — and people throughout Northeast Ohio — involved in minor fender benders and major accidents.
The collision repair shop, located at 7726 Whipple Ave. NW in the North Canton Industrial Park, has even repaired cars for Muhammad Ali and Michael Douglas.
The Ali and Douglas served by Custom Auto Body were not the heavyweight boxing champion of the world or the Golden Globe nominated actor. But the local body shop has indeed proudly worked on more than 75,000 cars and trucks since its inception.
Custom Auto Body was founded by Ron Tietze in 1961 as a side business inside a small garage. He was working full time as a sheet metal fabricator at Timken at the time.
“My dad did a lot of custom body work, including race cars,” said Ron’s son, Randy, who’s now vice president of operations. “That’s one reason he didn’t name the shop something like Ron’s Auto Body.”
Ron Tietze left Timken altogether when his small body shop quickly began to grow.
Today, Custom Auto Body employs 25 people and is one of the leading independently owned auto body repair shops in Northeast Ohio.
Custom Auto Body provides paintless dent repair, collision repair, complete auto body detailing work and rust proofing. The shop also assists customers with securing tow trucks and rental cars in their time of need.
The body shop is one of few in Northeast Ohio with I-CAR Gold Class certification, the highest training achievement recognized by the collision repair industry.
Vice President and General Manager Lance Runion started working at Custom Auto Body in 1973, and Randy Tietze began in 1980, after graduating from high school. Both started at the bottom and worked their way up.
Custom Auto Body has developed a series of standard operating procedures to regulate every job that comes through its doors — whether it’s a simple fender bender, rust repair or total collision repair.
“Every car we work on goes through the same process,” Tietze said. “Consistency is just one way we differentiate ourselves from our competitors and deliver exceptional quality.”
Combined, Tietze and Runion have more than 80 years of experience, Automotive Management Institute (AMI) Master Technician Certification and I-CAR Platinum and Gold certifications.
Custom Auto Body estimators and technicians go through rigorous training in their areas of expertise including Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) and I-CAR.
Custom Auto Body’s experienced management and technicians plus attention to detail plus state-of-the-art equipment equals quality auto body repair.
“There’s a certain standard that’s associated with the Custom Auto Body name,” said Tietze. “Plus, there’s the peace of mind that all of our repairs come with a limited lifetime guarantee.”
Customer comfort is of the utmost importance. Custom Auto Body works hard to make every step in the process as comfortable for customers as possible.
“That includes how they’re treated when they call, the amenities in our waiting room and their satisfaction with our repair work,” Runion said. “We also provide mobile estimates and door service for rental cars to help differentiate us.”
Tietze and Runion spend most of their days running the business. But both can do just about every job in the shop, which enhances their perspective.
Today, processes are more computerized, and materials are more technologically advanced.
“But there’s still an art to auto body repair,” Runion said, “and a place for true craftsmanship.”
There’s no evidence any particular season brings a surge in business to the auto body repair business. But there are trends.
“Harder hits happen in warmer months, as people begin to drive faster,” Runion said. “Minor fender benders happen in colder months, when people drive more cautiously.”
Deer season — primarily November and December — is a busy one for technicians.
Custom Auto Body supports many local organizations, including Wishes Can Happen, Timken High School, various Little League and golf teams, and the East Central Ohio Pilots Association. The company also has worked through the Stark County Career & Technical Center’s Creative Rehab program to find and employ technicians.
Moving forward, there will surely be a few minor dents and scratches for the body shop.
But Custom Auto Body has the people, processes and equipment in place to drive toward another 55 years.