Brad Stovall Auto Body Repair Shop: 35 Years Of Gettin’ You Fixed Up

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

In 1989, when Brad Stovall was still what he calls “just a kid,” he took a huge risk and bought a piece of land in Tanner that he describes as back in the day just being “out in the middle of a cotton field.” A banker in Ardmore by the name of Mr. Whitford was the one who loaned Brad the money, and recently Brad came across the paperwork from that original loan, which he is thinking of having framed as a way of remembering his journey as well as his blessings. Since he was young, Brad’s burning desire was always to be his own boss. He set out to do just that, and he is “still after it.” No plans to retire; “I’d just get bored,” he said with a grin. However, Brad is not an “all-work-and-no-play” kind of guy. He loves classic cars and has restored many. He also is an experienced helicopter pilot and has a particular love for Hueys, which were made famous during the Vietnam War and are featured in Mel Gibson’s excellent and stirring film, We Were Soldiers, as well as others.

We sat down recently in Brad’s office in “the new building” to reflect on all that has happened in the last 35 years, and no treatment of recent history would be complete without a discussion of how Stovall’s did during COVID. “We kept going, and we got through it. We had no lack of business, but the hard part was getting supplies, so things took longer. People needed their cars, and we got that. Places were shut down all over, and people weren’t working, and there was nothing we could do about it. Everybody was going through the same thing, and now things are almost completely back to normal,” he said. One of the good things that came out of COVID was that during that time Stovall’s was able to give back to the community by donating and restoring an old Crown Vic, painting it pink for Breast Cancer awareness month each year in October. The Crown Vic “lives” at the Athens Police Department. It gets parked on the Hobbs Street side of Police Headquarters, and during that month is also seen around town, in 5Ks as well as in parades. It is always a crowd pleaser, and a reminder of what a wonderful place Athens is to live.

As of this year, Stovall’s has three buildings on the property which is located down the street from the post office in Tanner, and each building has a different function in the restoration process. The auto body industry has gone through huge changes, especially in the last decade, and as technology has changed, they have adapted. There has been an ongoing war between steel and aluminum when it comes to deciding which is better to use for repair, and that involved Stovall’s having to get a whole new set of tools. In addition, there is a much greater use of plastic, and beginning in 2017, this required new tools and training because some of the plastic actually gets welded as part of the restoration process. Who knew that plastic could be welded?

Brad has always kept up with the technology of the trade, but he is choosing not to have the shop re-tool and retrain when it comes to all-electric cars. “We can do hybrids; that is no problem, but all-electric cars are just not something we are going to get into,” he said. I then asked, “Who does do auto body repair for all-electric vehicles?” “There’s one place, and it’s in Atlanta,” he said. I can understand why, at this stage of the game, he is not planning on getting into that market.

Over the years, Brad Stovall Auto Body has fixed a number of our family’s auto body boo-boos, including a deer strike, some fender benders, my backing “oh-so-slowly-and-carefully” into a car that had just gotten out of the body shop that was slated to be sold, as well as the upcoming repair in July of what was a poor-quality paint job done by the manufacturer. Always we have been treated with kindness, professionalism, and old-fashioned service. As Brad has said for decades, “We’ll make it right,” and surely they will. Call them today, and discover it for yourself!

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner