Faces of the Boom: Flying rocks help glass repair business take off

Preston Geving repairs a chipped windshield on Nov. 30, 2012, in Williston, N.D., The high volume of truck traffic in the Oil Patch helps his mobile auto glass repair business stay busy. Amy Dalrymple/Forum Communications

WILLISTON, N.D. – If anybody has job security in the Oil Patch, it’s Preston Geving.

Geving owns a mobile auto glass repair business in the Williston area, where he estimates he can find five vehicles in any city block that need windshield repairs.

The 25-year-old used to operate his business from Cody, Wyo., but moved it to North Dakota about 18 months ago.

“Up in Wyoming, things were just way too slow,” Geving said. “Out here, the sky’s the limit.”

When Geving first moved to Williston, he worked for Applebee’s to have some income while he dropped off business cards and fliers at gas stations to advertise Geving Better Glass.

After a few weeks, he was able to quit Applebee’s and focus on replacing windshields and repairing glass chips. He travels to customers in about a 200-mile radius around Williston.

“Before I knew it, I had more than enough business keeping me busy,” Geving said.

Truck traffic has exploded during North Dakota’s oil boom, making following a truck an everyday experience for drivers in Williston or on what used to be lonely rural roads.

Most often, rocks get stuck in the tires of trucks and fly off and strike windshields, he said. On his own pickup, Geving had to fix eight rock chips or cracks during a six-month period.

The demand for repairs is so strong that Geving has done little advertising other than business cards, shirts and hats with his logo and a logo on his vehicle. His busiest day was replacing 19 windshields.

“In the auto glass world, it’s just how hard you want to work,” he said.

Geving recently added a part-time employee to help him keep up. He is planning to open a shop west of the Williston Walmart next year that will allow him to expand and hire more employees.

The shortage of housing has forced Geving to live in a camper since he arrived in Williston. But he said more homes have come on the market and he expects to close on a new house in a few weeks.

Although starting a business and moving to Williston has been challenging, Geving said he recommends that people stick it out.

“It’s definitely worth it,” Geving said.

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