Photo by Tracey Wolfe
BLAINE –It’s been 25 years since Jerry Dalton began his business in the garage behind his parents’ house. Dalton began by fixing wrecked Hondas and selling them on the side. He completed repairs and the sale of the vehicles during his off time from his regular job, at SeaRay. He said he worked atSeaRay on large cruisers, 30 feet or longer, making repairs to fiberglass, gel coat and paint that had been damaged during the construction process. Those who purchased the vehicles Dalton repaired and sold started coming back to him for repair work to their vehicles if they were damaged, and eventually he struck out on his own. He stopped repairing and selling vehicles as a side job and made auto body repair his full-time occupation. Dalton said he grew up on a farm in Blaine, where he learned to do a little bit of everything, from working on cars and trucks to farming tobacco. His parents, Tandy and Helen Dalton were both school teachers. Dalton said at one time they had 10,000 chickens. “Back in the day we sold eggs to a lot of the grocery stores,” he said. Dalton Eggs sold eggs to area grocery stores until the larger chain stores started bringing eggs in, rather than buying them locally. He said when he grew up he didn’t want to be a farmer. “I wanted a job where I could work, even when it rained,” he said. Dalton said he worked in the 40X40 garage behind his parents’ house from about 1991 until 1998. During that time, he expanded the garage to 40X60. In 1998, he built the current location. He said he chose Hondas to repair and sell because they were easy sellers in the early 90s, and they were easy to work on. “I kind of decided kind of early in my career that people with all these wrecked cars would probably be good job security,” he said. He started out with one body man, John Shelton, and today employs 18 people. Dalton Collision is factory certified for Honda, Acura, Nissan, Infinity, GM, Fiat, Chrysler, Ford and Hyundai and can be found listed on manufacturers’ websites as certified repair specialists. The company is also certified for aluminum repair. To achieve factory certification, a shop must be inspected to ensure it has the necessary equipment to perform repairs to factory specifications. Dalton Collision has all of the necessary modern equipment, such as various welders and frame correction machines. Employees must also complete factory training for body work and paint, and complete a certain number of hours of factory-required continuing education classes every year. Only OEM parts can be used for repairs. Repairs completed by Dalton Collision will appear on a car fax report as having been completed with OEM parts. Dalton Collision has been an I-CAR Gold Class Shop for 18 years, longer than any shop in the state of Tennessee, Dalton said. He also serves as the chairman of the Knoxville I-CAR committee. In celebration of 25 years in business, Dalton Collision will host a customer appreciation day Friday, May 19. Representatives of Enterprise Rent-A-Car will be on hand to cook hamburgers and hotdogs for guests, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. The business will also celebrate National Foster Care Awareness Month during the event.
Dalton said everyone is welcome to attend customer appreciation day. There is no requirement to be a current or former customer. He welcomes everyone to come by the 355 Rutledge Pike, Blaine location to have lunch, meet the staff and tour the facility.