Derek Meehl wins three awards in auto body repair

The technician traveled to Kansas City, Mo. to compete

By Tina Snell, Staff Writer

Derek Meehl, employed at Czech’s Auto Body Inc. in Buckman, recently won three first-place awards in automotive repair.

A recent graduate of St. Cloud Technical College, Meehl’s second-year instructor, Dale Derung, talked him into entering the competition.

Derek Meehl, employed at Czech’s Auto Repair in Buckman, recently won two state competitions and one national competition in auto body repair.

“I really didn’t want to do it, but he said I had to,” said Meehl, who qualified with three others from his class to attend the SkillsUSA competition.

The state competition was held in Mankato in May. Meehl competed against 48 others from across the state. He received first place in automotive refinishing and first place in collision repair. The first he won by five points and the second by 15 points.

For refinishing, Meehl had to sand a fender, blend the color to the rest of the car and clear coat the panel. He had to also write an estimate and mix paint to match the car’s original color.

For the collision part of the state competition, Meehl had to pound out two dents in a fender, use filler on one of the dents and prep the fender for the primer. He also had to analyze frame damage on a truck, perform welding duties and work on plastic repair.

The next day he received his awards during a ceremony in Edina. For winning, he received a $500 tool voucher, wrench sets from Snap-on Tools, welding gloves and a jacket, both from Miller Electric.

The national SkillsUSA tests were held June 25-26, in Kansas City, Mo. Since all the automotive tests were given at the same time, Meehl could only compete in one. He chose automotive refinishing and vied against 28 others.

There were six categories in his division. They included covering a spot of primer on a panel, mixing paint to match a vehicle’s color, choosing the correct color of paint from various samples and taping one side of a vehicle prior to painting it. He also had to sand a scratch from a plastic bumper and prime it, write an estimate, take an Automotive Service Excellence exam related to finishing, take part in a job interview and write a resume.

In the national testing, 1,000 points were possible. Meehl received 878.5. He took first place.

“It was very gratifying to work so hard to be ready for the competition and then win it. It turned out about as good as it could,” he said.

From the nationals, Meehl received a Snap-on tool box with tools, training courses from paint companies in Chicago and a Sata spray paint gun. The total package came to approximately $5,000.

Meehl lives in Royalton and in his spare time he helps a friend work on cars. Also a graduate of graphic design, he does custom air brushing on the side, working with his customers on the designs they want.

“My most recent one was of gorillas,” he said. “I am self-taught and love to do free-hand designs.”

Meehl also does pinstriping on cars, trucks and motorcycles.