Harvey's Body Shop a family proposition

Ray Scherer

The Cramer family remains committed to ensuring Hermann area drivers get their rides handed back to them in renewed shape following some sort of vehicular misfortune.

The Cramers have announced plans for the next generation of the family to take over operation of Harvey's Body Shop Inc., located at Missouri Highway 100 and Sawmill Road. Current owner Merlin Cramer told the Advertiser-Courier the switch was being done low key at mid-December, with his son, Tim, taking over the reins. Tim has actually possessed shares in the corporation for close to a year, and can already boast of 20 years' experience in the business.

"We've been working on finishing the business end of it," said Merlin. "He's very capable....He knows what he's doing."

Merlin turns 65 in April, and is happy with the succession plan for Harvey's. He began working with Harvey Cramer, his father, in 1975. He took over the shop in 1998, and Harvey retired.

"This came up probably 10 years ago," he said of the change-over idea. "We've talked about this for a long time."

The shop opened at Fourth and Gutenberg streets on Monday, May 29, 1961 -- meaning the 60th anniversary is just five months away. Services back then were dent repairs, refinishing, and glass replacement. Today, Harvey's provides body repair, towing, and painting services. It moved to the current location in January 1988, after flooding left nine feet of water in the original building. Merlin said picking up stakes meant joining several other Hermann businesses in new growth on the south side of town.

"That was a great benefit to us," he said of the economic development.

Auto body shops continue evolving with the times. Merlin said specialty services keep growing, with more emphasis on technology these days.

He said he and the shop's staff realize how important it is for people to receive their vehicles back in correct driving shape, to handle their transportation needs. It's not the type of business where having a repeat customer is desirable. But the tow trucks are ready to roll as necessary.

As with all other local businesses, there have been burdens aplenty for Harvey's since the start of the pandemic.

"Still, we had a very strong year," said Merlin, adding that a hailstorm around Good Friday that included Morrison kept the shop busy. Vehicles striking deer, however, has seen a slowdown in 2020.