‘FLOODGATES OPENED’ – OLD DOMINION COLLISION THRIVES AS CENTRAL OREGON’S ONLY TESLA-CERTIFIED REPAIR CENTER
* Shop owner Dustin Caldwell is available for interviews, either through Zoom, phone or in-person.*
EUGENE, Ore. – In 2018, Old Dominion Collision owner Dustin Caldwell faced a turning point.
His shop had worked on a handful of Tesla vehicles and met challenges with each job. Complications in the repair process, lack of specialized tools and difficulty acquiring parts were common with Teslas at the time.
A thought crossed Caldwell’s mind. “Is working on Teslas worth it?”
Because of Old Dominion’s reputation in the community, an opportunity came to join the Tesla Approved Body Shop (TABS) network. It would require a sizable upfront investment in equipment and hundreds of hours of training for his employees but Caldwell knew electric vehicles were the future and he believed, despite some early struggles, his team could embrace and handle the challenge.
“I knew being in TABS could set us apart,” Caldwell said. “We had a chance to be the first and be the best when it came to repairing Teslas, so we jumped at the opportunity.”
He made the gamble and Old Dominion became the first and only certified Tesla collision repair center in Central Oregon.
“Once we were approved it was like the floodgates opened,” Caldwell said. “We had Teslas showing up to the shop every day and we’ve been able to make a lot of new clients happy.”
The bet continues to pay off, as Tesla delivered nearly one million vehicles to customers in the United States over 2019 and 2020. With more and more Teslas, and electric vehicles in general, on the road, Old Dominion is ahead of the curve.
“Our technicians are excited to be part of an exclusive group, working on the newest vehicle technology,” Caldwell said. “They’ve gotten better and better with more experience and continue to train and improve.”
Being a Tesla Approved Body Shop gives Old Dominion access to the most up-to-date repair procedures from Tesla, support from the company’s training technicians and the inside track for hard-to-find replacement parts and equipment. That access came with some up front risk.
Old Dominion’s investments in tools included everything from the newest freon machines and aluminum welders to a Tesla-specific scissor lift and battery table. A Tesla battery runs from tire-to-tire, front-to-back, under the vehicle. The battery table allows Old Dominion’s technicians to properly and safely remove the high-voltage battery to ensure proper repairs.
With all the additional training, tooling and support, Old Dominion embraced the complicated task of repairing Teslas and has grown because of it.
“We had a brand new Model X come in,” Caldwell recalled. “The front end was completely destroyed. Bumper was gone, headlights gone, hood was pushed in two feet. It was a daunting job, there was a lot missing and a lot damaged, but it went really smooth and we delivered a really well-repaired vehicle. All the time we spend on research and all the investments we make in tools saves us time during the repair process.”
One look at the Tesla-filled lot on 1st Avenue shows that taking the necessary steps to join the TABS network has been a big part of Old Dominion’s current success. Caldwell believes it could pay even bigger dividends down the road.
“More and more car companies are producing electric vehicles, we could see that coming and we thought this program was a way to get us ahead.” Caldwell said.
Proof of that has been Old Dominion’s investment in a Nissan Leaf as a rental vehicle. The Leaf gives customers an option to drive an electric vehicle while their own is in the shop or experience an electric vehicle for the first time.
“We’re now well prepared for the future,” Caldwell added.