Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

Pittmans change helm at Colfax Body Repair

 

January 2, 2020

Scott Pittman; Bud Pittman

Scott Pittman, right, shares a smile with son Bud who took over operation on Colfax Body Repair after Scott retired from 32 years in the driver's seat Jan. 1, 2020.

After 50 years as part of the Main Street business scene in Colfax, Scott Pittman of Colfax Body Repair will undergo a change of status. As of the first of the year, Pittman has turned over the business to his son, Bud Pittman, who has worked at the business for more than 10 years.

"It happens Jan. 1. I'm out, and he's in," Scott Pittman said in an interview last week.

He expects the transition will take about a month, and he plans to remain at the shop where he will undertake a series of rebuild projects which have been put aside for years.

He is now finishing up a 1970 Boss 302 Ford Mustang. He plans to do the projects in what is known as the service station section of Colfax Body Repair.

The station at the north end of the complex was a former Union 76 station, one of approximately 12 servicestations to line Main Street at one time.

Scott is a member of the 1969 class of Colfax High School, a group which marked its 50-year reunion this year. The reunion was fun, but it was also a time marker.

The son of the late Jack and Ginny Pittman of Colfax, Scott was raised on a farm, but started working at the shop under Bob Luft when he was in high school.

He studied architecture for three and a half years at Washington State University. That included a study exchange in Europe.

Pittman decided a career as an architect was not for him and was hired on full-time under Bob Luft at the body shop where he had worked part-time in high school.

He learned all facets of the business and purchased it from Luft in 1987.

In 1990, a segment of the shop was torn down and replaced by a 40 X 60 addition. Three years ago a heating unit was installed in the shop area to allow the crew to bake paint on cars in a matter of hours instead of overnight.

Pittman also expanded the wrecker service to include three trucks, a fleet which has undergone multiple changeovers over the years of service.

The present large 45-ton heavy duty wrecker is the third to be in service since he has operated the shop. The rollback wrecker is number two. The medium-size wrecker is number four.

Pittman noted over the years he has seen some "awful things" at accident scenes. Sometimes a wrecker crew can arrive at an accident scene before an ambulance crew. He said the tragic scenes at accidents can take a toll.

"It was always tough to go home to your family," Pittman said. He realized how precious family life can be after seeing how accidents can instantly inflict tragedy.

Pittman's on-going interest in cars is reflected in the front office of the shop which is lined with stainless steel models of all kinds of competition cars. He said he doesn't know how many of the detailed cars are displayed along the walls.

"Some people come in here, and just stop and stare," he reported.

Pittman estimates the value of the collection is in the range of $15,000.

He believes skill in body repair is acquired though hours of "hands on" work, usually under the tutelage of experienced members of the crew.

Two people who taught him the trade were Dave Messinger and Gordon Paxton.

Pittman said he always enjoys seeing the reaction after a customer sees a damaged car or truck which has been repaired.

"A lot of it is sentimental value," he explained. "They would be better off to go find another car."

Mustangs, Challengers, Corvettes, Camaros and Barracudas are among the makes of cars which are brought to the shop for restoration projects.

Pittman and his wife Rhonda also have two married daughters, Shelby and Tiffany. Rhonda, also a CHS graduate, is a long-time secretary at Jennings Elementary.

Bud Pittman graduated with the Colfax High School class of 2002, and earned a degree in health and fitness with teaching credentials at Eastern Washington University.

He worked as a substitute teacher at Colfax for approximately six months, and decided he would rather go back to the family shop and make it a career.

The Pittmans now have nine grandchildren, seven boys and two girls, and another boy on the way.

Watching the grandkids grow and compete in sports will also be on the retirement agenda.

Pittman noted when the class of 1969 competed in sports, state playoffs were unknown.

"The football team rolled up a 9-0 record, and that was it."

When Bud graduated, the class of 2002 marked four state titles.

 
 

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