Paul Guye, the founder of United Bumper Repair started experimenting with spray painting at the age of 14 and practiced his newly discovered artistic paint skills on his friends and families cars. Paul was spraying entire cars with spray cans and was able to reach amazing results “I was hell with a spray can… until Charlie Gill showed up” said Paul. Charlie was a retired auto body shop owner and painter that lived down the street. He had real automotive paint guns and was willing to show Paul a thing or two.
Charlie worked with Paul on cars at his dad’s garage in the evenings and weekends, showing him the “tricks of the trade”…painting, wet sanding, buffing, prepping, priming, etc. Getting frustrated with Paul from time to time “If you would just shut up and listen!” he cried. As stubborn as he was, Paul caught on quickly using real auto body shop tools and materials. Paul did not know it at the time, but he was learning a massive amount of information and experience that would catapult him past most people that were just entering into this type of career. “Give Rocky Balboa a paint gun and don’t change damn thing about his trainer Mickey and that was me and Charlie.” Paul was happy that Charlie was teaching him how to “really” paint, “Remember Paul…I never taught you…I only showed you” said Charlie.
After high school, Paul was only able to get a job as a “car washer” at a local auto body shop. The only thing Paul was lacking was the confidence of the shop owners. “I guess they thought I was too young to paint cars” said Paul. He took the job anyway and knew he now had his foot in the door. Over time they allowed him to buff, prep and cut in parts. “I know how to paint… why won’t they let me!” Paul soon found a better job but this time he was an official painter’s helper and was now able to paint. Lee Poor was his boss and did not mind letting Paul paint. Lee later left that shop and bought his own body shop and Paul was then given the chance to take lee’s place. Paul was 20 years old at the time and it was a big deal. Someone that young running a busy paint shop at such a young age was almost unheard of. Paul hired his own helper and was able to make it work out, not to mention the help of a 2 inch Charlie Gill sitting on his shoulder.
At the age of 22 Paul heard of a new high paying job opportunity and at one of the busiest and biggest auto body shops in the state. “I heard about this place back when I was a just a car washer and it was a very…..Very intimidating place”. Paul was used to the average shop…one painter, maybe a helper if it was busy enough and a few body men. Paul’s soon to be place of employment has 2 downdraft spray booths, 2 Painters, 2 helpers, 8 to 9 body men that all had huge egos, so may cars and so much work that it boggled the mind, and a whip cracking boss that wanted it all completed…”yesterday”. One week before Paul’s 23rd birth day one of the painters was fired and Paul stepped in as a painter at one of the busiest and biggest auto body shops he had ever seen.
Paul had made it to the top of his career at the age of only 23. “I was scared-to-death! I looked to my shoulder for Charlie and there was a note…Sorry bud you’re on your own!” That was a day for Paul to remember, in tears on the drive home. Paul hesitated going back after the 1st day. He then thought about all what he had accomplished, his reputation, and of course what Charlie would be saying “I’m not here to hold you by the hand anymore, don’t throw away what you worked so hard for. Now go show those bums what you’re made of”. Paul worked there successfully like a tiger for 3 years gaining more skills, knowledge, and respect from his boss and co-workers. But something happened on that last year of employment. He noticed a lot of the cars could have been spot blended and did not have to have bumpers unnecessarily removed for the repair. This was something that was driving up the cost of minor repairs for unnecessary reasons. Paul thought to himself that if the customer dealt directly with him they would save a ton of money. A lot of the cars would go directly to Paul for the repair. Indirectly, the customer was dealing with Paul anyway, they just didn’t know it.
At the age of 26 Paul gave his 2 weeks’ notice, bought his first van for $1900.00, custom painted it and started his very own mobile paint repair service. “Now I make my living doing what I love while saving other people money. They say… do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. Well, I guess I haven’t “worked” since I was 20 years old. I’m glad I didn’t give up on myself and Charlie. Some guy once told me…A big shot is really someone who was a little shot that kept on shooting. I encourage everyone to do what they love and not give up. And Charlie…you are gone but sure as hell not forgotten!”
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