Like father, like son

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By Ron Benningfield

Though John “Tommy” Gardner, owner and operator of Gardner’s Body Shop, has been in business at his present location at 2319 Lincoln Farm Road since 1989, his experience with his craft goes back much farther.

“I painted my first car, a 1964 Ford, when I was 15 working at Byerly Ford in Louisville,” Gardner said.

His father, Wilburn “Shorty” Gardner was body shop manager for 12 years at Byerly. Gardner learned the trade from his father and the other body men with whom he worked.

“I spent two years at Byerly’s and five years at Bill Collins in Louisville before we moved to Magnolia where I worked for Hinton’s there until I partnered with my dad, first in Magnolia and then here after he bought this place,” Gardner noted.

Just as no two snowflakes are alike, Gardner said no two body repair jobs are ever the same. Repairing those vehicles also varies with each job.

“It’s a craft that takes a good five or six years to learn the trade,” Gardner shared. The task involves multi-steps requiring the body man at times to wash, weld, and sand in addition to match and mix paint which can cost $120 a pint.”

Finding the closest-matching paint starts with his looking up the relevant paint code located on the car, then searching a catalog for the color that most closely matches that code.

“Everything about it is critical,” Gardner explained. “I mix it and pull the trigger, but I must also rely on the paint from the manufacturer matching the code.”

Patience is a key virtue to his job which is labor intensive.

“I always do my best and feel a sense of accomplishment when the work is done,” Gardner added.

Gardner has refurbished his shop that is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. For more information call 270-358-8484.