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Tuesday, 14 June 2016 22:27

75-Year-Old CA Technician Discusses Career, Why He's in No Rush to Retire

75-Year-Old CA Technician Discusses Career, Why He's in No Rush to Retire

Otto Nikoleyczik, 75, poses in front of J P's Paint and Body Works in Chico, CA. 

Otto Nikoleyczik began dabbling in the collision repair industry at the age of 13. He had just moved from Germany to Long Island, NY, to live with his aunt and uncle, who owned a body shop.

After cancer took his uncle's life in 1957, Nikoleyczik's days were split between school and apprenticing at the family business. This continued until he went into the service after high school.

Once Nikoleyczik returned from the naval reserves in 1961, he took over the four-man operation, which his aunt had been running.

“Our house was in front and the shop was in the back,” said Nikoleyczik. “I was the owner until 1976, and by that point, I was married with five kids.”

The close proximity between the house and the shop proved to be a hazard. When one of his sons accidentally lost part of his toe that year, Nikoleyczik decided to sell the business.

“We then moved to Montana,” he said. “Figured it would be better for the kids, and it was.”

Nikoleyczik and his family spent the next 26 years in Montana, where he worked as a combination man.

“I did everything on the vehicle; from the frame work to the body work to the paint work,” he said. “It's the kind of thing where if you're doing a job where you're doing everything, you get a certain satisfaction; but it's a little harder on you, too.”

After Montana, he and his wife moved to Hawaii for five years. From then on, Nikoleyczik stuck to body work, and let the paint department handle the rest.

“Our daughter was living in Hawaii,” said Nikoleyczik. “That was when we started following our kids around the country.”

Their next stop was Cheyenne, WY to live and work near their other daughter.

“We got to experience different states and different lifestyles,” said Nikoleyczik.

After five years of dealing with a windy, cold climate, the couple made their final move to sunny Chico, CA, and you can probably guess why.

“Our other daughter and her husband owned a business just north of Chico,” said Nikoleyczik. “I then got a job at J P's Paint and Body Works and have been here ever since. This will probably be my last stop.”

Out of all the shops he's worked in, Nikoleyczik said he's had the best experience at J P's.

“I like it because I'm a salary person; most collision repair jobs work on commission,” he explained. “When you're working on salary you don't have to worry about getting the job done to get paid, so you have the tendency to do more quality work.”

Nikoleyczik added that quality work is what J P's is known for.

“We complete the job at the highest standards - the paint and the body work,” he said.

Nikoleyczik plans to continue working at J P's for at least another five years, especially since he's been in good health.

“It's the kind of thing where as long as you like the work you're doing and you're able to do it, why stop?” he said.

Nikoleyczik added that he likes the challenge presented by new makes and models.

“I enjoy taking cars apart and putting them back together,” he said. “Every one is different, so you have to relearn every car every year.”

Nikoleyczik said the industry has changed a lot in the last 30-40 years.

“There are a lot of electronics, a lot of plastics, and nowadays, a lot more parts changing than repairs changing,” he explained. “For a door you might have previously repaired, you're now probably going to replace the panel or put a used panel on, and when you consider the labor involved, replacing it is usually the less costly option.”

Nikoleyczik added that because vehicles nowadays have so many electrical parts in the front end, they total out a lot faster.

“Modern technology brings part prices up quite a bit,” he explained. “When a vehicle gets a front end hit and the air bag goes off, the electronic parts - air conditioning units, cooling units - total out a lot faster. Years ago, you could do a lot more repairs on the vehicles before that happened.”

Nikoleyczik also believes that the industry today has stepped up to a higher level of repair and service.

“Shops are more responsive to the customer,” he said, which he believes is an important improvement.

To learn more about J P's Paint and Body Works or visit the shop, check them out on Yelp: www.yelp.com/biz/j-ps-paint-and-body-works-chico.

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