Auto collision instructor makes industry jobs a priority

Abe sells is a collision repair instructor at Tidewater Community College in Chesapeake, VA, teaching in the dual enrollment program at the Chesapeake Career Center.

His students and industry partners—local salespeople and body shops—know that Sells is here to win when it comes to doing great things for everyone he meets.

It’s more than just a job for Sells.

“I love what I do and I guess it shows,” Sells said. “This industry has been good for me, and I want to help fill the void in the collision industry by creating career opportunities for them. When you see a young person adopting what I teach, that’s a good thing, and I want to take advantage of it as much as possible.

Sells, 51, is always busy and loves variety. When he’s not teaching, he’s running bump hunters, where he performs paintless dent repair (PDR) for his Chesapeake area customers. It works well in the summer months when he’s not teaching full time.

It’s remarkable that Sells ended up teaching collision repair because at first, carpentry was what he wanted to take at his local vocational school in Ohio. Auto body was his second choice and there was no interest.

After graduating from high school, Sells needed a job. His father worked two hours away in a steel mill. But Sells didn’t want to move and had to work as hard as his dad, so he thought maybe he should give collision repair another try.

Sales started at $4.25 an hour, or $170 for a 40-hour week. Then he was making $7 an hour, averaging 50-55 hours a week, earning $380 a week, which meant he was doubling his income and moving in the right direction.

When Sells took charge of its future…