How does one preserve a community land mark and protect a legacy while providing modern day service work to customers needing current technology in their modern day vehicles? That is the question Tim and Tara Wall of TNT Auto Body Repair and Service Centers in Glade Hill, VA, have been trying to answer with J. Lloyd Hodges of Lloyd Hodges Garage in Glade Hill, VA.
“We are so glad TNT is keeping Mr. Hodges’ place open. It’s close to home, and we’ve always had our inspections and service work done there,” remembers Norma Turner of Glade Hill. “When I was growing up, my Dad wouldn’t go anywhere else but to Lloyd’s, and now it’s become a sort of family tradition. It’s so good to see it stay open.”
Mr. Hodges’ Service Center is more than a place to get inspections or oil changes as you drive past Route 40. In business for over 60 years, Lloyd Hodges Garage is a pillar in the community, standing through decades and remaining steadfast through countless seasons. Many residents of Glade Hill can remember visiting the garage with their parents as their vehicles needed service work. Many still continue to stop by to say hello to Mr. Hodges while getting an inspection or set of brakes. At any given time, friends and customers can be seen visiting in chairs set out in the office and service bay as well. Truly, history has been made here, and memories fill the air.
When Tim and Tara Wall arrived in Franklin County in 2001, their main purpose was to attend Blue Ridge Bible College and begin their married life together. Little did they know, the plan was so much bigger than that. Tim used his 15 plus years of working on cars and experience in managing body shops in upstate New York to begin repairing any vehicles he could to make their way through Bible School. Shortly after they graduated in 2003, daughter Abigail was born, and within that year, they found themselves moving their new “official” TNT Auto Body Repair into 1200 sq. feet at Lloyd Hodges Garage. “We hadn’t really planned on opening an official business at the start,” Says Wall, “But doors just kept opening up, and we knew it was what we were supposed to do.”
Within two years of renting the four bays from Mr. Hodges, the Walls realized the need for expansion. “We were repairing cars around the clock, and running out of room for the technicians we needed to turn the work,” they remember.
Mr. Hodges was not ready to retire at that time, but he was willing to sell the couple his three acres across the road. They set to sketching a 60×100 steel building and by 2007 were running excavators and a body shop at the same time. “It was a crazy time, and an amazing time all at once” remembers Tara Wall. “By then, we had three small children, and our family was growing as quickly as our business. We just kept going, doing the best we could, day after day. Mostly just doing what was in front of us so often, we didn’t see the big picture. When we stopped to look around, we saw our beautiful, healthy children, and our business established and growing. It was a wonderful moment.”
Twelve years into their auto body adventure, the couple recognized the benefit of having a service center built in to their body shop: not only could they keep most repairs in house completely now, but they were also able to repair cars faster with everything on site, and provide a more complete auto experience for the customer. They explain: “Now, when Mrs. Jones comes here to get her car repaired, and you notice her inspection is about to run out, or her oil change light is on, one quick call for Mrs. Jones’ approval, and you’ve just taken two extra things off her To Do List. Or when you’re test driving Mr. Smith’s car before you deliver it to him, and you notice his tires are wearing, you can give him a quote on tires and rotating over the phone in minutes. It’s a wonderful advantage.”
“We had been discussing the added benefits of a service center for quite some time.” Says Wall, “But in all honesty, there was no room in the body shop to carve dedicated space out for a specific service center.”
Tim turned to Mr. Hodges to propose the option of renting the original four bays in his facility to establish a service center for TNT. This time, Mr. Hodges was ready. Wanting to be free for more time to travel and rest, Mr. Hodges began working with Tim to help him earn his inspection’s license and assume his business name. The original 1200 sq. feet has now become a dedicated alignment bay, freshly cleaned, painted, insulated and lit up. Together, they have begun cleaning out his front service bays, with the plan of cleaning and painting underway.
“With winter coming soon, and a sign of renewed action happening in Glade Hill, customers are coming and we are preparing.” Wall says. “We brought a full time mechanic on staff to supply the demand, and are so grateful he is there to do the mechanical work as we prepare to install more efficient lighting and insulation. We have such a competent team across the board at TNT, we feel privileged to have such positive feedback and support from our staff during this transition.”
Repainting the exterior of the building and continuing renovating the interior are on the top of the list before the cold weather sets in. Juggling an auto body shop and growing sales in the midst of the expansion is at times exhausting and exhilarating. There have also been many laughs and many rays of hope through the long hours.
The couple remains committed to finding the balance between honoring the Hodges Family business while updating the necessary equipment and facility repairs to modernize the building. They have captured a logo for Lloyd Hodges Garage, which you can expect to see out front for as long as it will stand. The building will also get a fresh coat of white paint in the next few weeks, and rest assured, it will have a stripe of TNT green paint across the front. Line upon line, they will figure out the answer to the question, continuing to preserve a landmark while celebrating a merging of two stories coming together to better enhance and strengthen the community.