Toy exchange makes a dent

Car ding removal business revs up program.

Turn that nasty ding into a positive thing.

Unless you’re hypervigilant, your car will get an annoying ding in a parking lot sooner or later. John Highley of the Dent Magic John business in Centerville will continue a holiday tradition that brings in toys for children during the Christmas season.

The program has been sporadic in the past, but it has been an annual giveaway program since 2012.

“I got the idea back in 2003 when I was working as the manager at Waterworks Carwash in Troy,” said Highley. “I was also a subcontractor for paint-less dent removal there, and I thought, ‘Why not trade dent removal for a child’s gift?’ ”

All dents, 3 inches or less, were removed for an unwrapped toy costing at least $25. They gave the toys collected that year to the Toys for Tots program. In 2012, after he had moved the business he owns with his wife Angela to Centerville, he offered the exchange again.

Highley said, “A number of other body shops had messages on their machines about it. We collected around 150 toys.”

Those toys also went to Toys for Tots. This year the toys will be delivered to the local charity Hannah’s Treasures Chest in Centerville.

The program will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5. Highley has scheduled this program right after the chaos of Black Friday shopping.

“It’s also a heck of a bargain to be able to get a ding removed for the cost of a $25 gift. It typically costs around $150 for a 3-inch ding,” Highley said. “We’re hoping that some people will bring gifts that cost a little more.”

The hailstorm in 2011 caused one couple to have almost 100 dings. Highley said since then they’ve come every year with a gift to get one or two dings fixed.

Highley learned the art of car ding removal from his dad, Gerald Highley when he was 13. His dad owned a car dealership/auto body shop in Piqua. When John was 21, he travelled to California to get advanced training in auto-body work. He indicated that this year, his 14-year-old son, John Jr., will start working at Dent Magic John, which is located in a large warehouse at 7993 Clyo Road. The phone number is 800-755-3368.

During the summer Highley has a mobile business and does repair work in the Cincinnati and northern Kentucky areas.

“We’re about getting as many gifts as we can for as many children as we can,” Highley said. “We would like to be an inspiration for other companies to do charitable programs like this and help out the surrounding communities.”

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