Daniel Van Reese’s interest in cars started in high school. “I like tinkering with cars or anything with a motor in it. When I was in high school I had a pretty good grasp on basic mechanical skills, but I was clueless when it came to the auto body side of things.” Lake Superior College was local, affordable and offered courses he was interested in so it was easy for him to sign up. He completed his Auto Body diploma in 2007. “My LSC education gave me the knowledge, skills, and experience I needed to get started in the auto body industry,” he noted.
He’s been employed at Arrowhead Auto Body in Duluth for four years, where he works as a painter, a scientific and artistic process much more involved than one would imagine. “When the body tech finishes his work, I take over and begin the refinishing process,” he explained. “It begins with color matching, prepping panels, cleaning, masking and then painting. Once painted, I am also responsible for any defects that may occur during the refinishing process. After all of this is completed, the vehicle is returned to the body tech for reassembly.”
Van Reese enjoys the unpredictable nature of automotive refinishing where nothing is ever the same with each job. He also appreciates seeing a damaged vehicle go through the repair process to have it restored to a gleaming finish. “Every day brings a new challenge. The hardest part about my job is having consistent results. You can have two of the exact same car model with the same paint code but have variants in color between the two. Products, vehicle colors, and even the weather constantly changes so I have to adapt to each and every job.”
For individuals interested in pursuing an auto body career, Van Reese emphasizes that the work is team-based and very detail oriented. “Learn all that you can about auto body work and have an open mind,” he advises. “Being a well-rounded team player will help you succeed in this field. It’s very rewarding seeing everyone’s work come together with great results for the customer.”