Dustin Caldwell is the 2nd generation owner of Old Dominion Collision Repair. He grew up in the body shop that his mother and father started the year he was born. Old Dominion Collision has always been home, and its team members have always been family to Dustin.
Returning to the Body Shop
Like any rebellious teenager, he left the nest to try out some other industries. However, he always ended up back in the body shop. “In my early 20’s it dawned on me,” said Dustin. “While taking courses at Lane Community College, I realized that businesses that have been around for 20 years or more are better suited for survival in today’s economy and so rather than start something of my own, I started to think that I could help grow the business that my parents had already invested so much in.”
Working His Way Up
When he was 21, he became a full-fledged employee of the auto body business. He spent time washing cars in the detail bay and cleaning up around the shop and office. His mother, Patricia McConnell, thought it was very important for him to earn his way into the business, just like the rest of the car repair team. After tackling several positions over the years, he worked his way up and became Vice-President of Operations in early 2005. When his mother decided to retire in 2015, Dustin became the sole-owner and President of Old Dominion Collision Repair.
Dustin learned a lot from his mom and wants to continue to apply those principles to run Old Dominion Collision. He also uses some new ideas of his own to help shape the future of the family business. His focus on lean management and the Kaizen principle of continuous improvement have helped Old Dominion grow and thrive. In addition, his entrepreneurial mindset has helped the business keep up with a constantly evolving industry.
Adventuring in Oregon
In his free time Dustin loves to go on adventures with his wife, Cheri, and their Bernedoodle, Huxley Xolo. They love to explore the natural wonders in Oregon with their VW Vanagon Syncro Westfalia, @VioletTheVanagon.
“My favorite thing about #vanlife is getting behind the wheel and driving,” says Dustin. “The freedom of letting the road take us where it will take us is very appealing.” Over the years Dustin has spent a lot of time customizing his van. This lets them hit the road whenever they like. Along with some friends, he engineered and manufactured the front and rear bumpers. He also added custom interior and exterior lighting, and upgraded the house battery system with solar & lithium. He worked with Van-café.com to install a Subaru engine and an exterior swing away spare tire carrier. His buddy, Dave, at Vanagonlife.com provided custom storage & a Vanagon Overland Window (VOW) and he added a custom roof rack with accessories from Frontrunner Outfitters.
While he and Cheri are traveling, they love to hike and snowboard. “When I am out in the wilderness, I feel such a connection to nature,” said Dustin. “I think that is one of the most grounding, important things in life. Standing in the middle of an expansive mass of trees or on the top of a mountain calms my mind and feeds my soul.”
Growth In and Out of the Body Shop
As he does in the body shop, Dustin constantly strives for growth and development in his own life. This mentality is something that initially attracted him to Cheri. “I was drawn to Cheri because she is constantly driven to live life as her best self,” said Dustin. “Her motto is I am not what has happened to me, I am what I choose to become, and this really clicked with me.” Dustin and Cheri dabble in financial investing, cryptocurrency, and have always focused on creating a life of freedom. “To be able to do whatever we want, whenever we want, with whomever we want at the drop of a hat while also having the freedom to give back is especially appealing,” said Dustin.
Dustin and Cheri also love working out together. They train at Genuine Fitness with owner/operator Aaron Orton, a results-oriented personal trainer in Eugene. Pushing his health to the ultimate level has helped Dustin thrive in all areas of his life. Together they are self-described “Fitness-Addicts” and Cheri recently competed in and won a fitness competition and now has her Master’s Bikini Pro-Card in the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation (WNBF).
An Eye for Composition
If you run into Dustin in the body shop it is likely he is carrying his camera around, capturing shots to post on our website or social media channels. “Ever since I was a little boy, I have had an eye for composition, something that a lot of photographers struggle with but comes second nature to me,” Dustin said. “In my early 30’s I really discovered my passion for it and haven’t stopped taking photos since.” His love of photography also pairs well with his love of the outdoors, and many of his pieces are hanging in our lobby.
For more on why we love our body shop, check out our other blogs!