Lisa Dombrowsky likes cars. She has since she was a teenager.
“I’ve been in this business since I was 17,” said Dombrowsky, the owner of Dent Wizard on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, who’s 46 and has kids of her own now. “I started selling cars… I wanted a brand-new 300 ZX and the only way to buy myself a car was to go to work. I worked long enough to get that car.”
She lived in Miami then. Originally a Jersey girl, she moved to south Florida with her family at age 14, she said. She got her first job at 15, working in a restaurant. She’s worked at different jobs through the years, but kept coming back to ones that had something to do with cars.
“I’ve just always been into cars,” she said. “I love ’em. I love the feel of a nice car. I love the way a car looks. There’s nothing better than having a kick-ass car that you’re one with. … You can just drive.”
After she earned enough money to buy that first 300 ZX, she went into auto insurance, she said. Through the years, she worked with a car detailing company and for a mobile body shop supervising the guys who removed dents from banged-up fenders. “I started with two trucks and within a year, I have 12 trucks on the road, and 24 guys and 39 dealerships served,” she said.
When she met her husband-to-be, a neighbor in her apartment complex named Scott, he was in the dent-fixing business, too. “We lived in the same complex,” she recalls. “He lived downstairs with his little frou-frou Pomeranian and I lived upstairs with my two kids.”
They relocated to Atlanta and, in 2010, went into business running the car dent repair shop at 5717 Peachtree Industrial Highway in Chamblee. Scott, who had worked for years with Dent Wizard, knew the repair side of the business, Dombrowsky said.
“I’m the one who knew the business side,” she said. “He knew nothing about the business side. … He had the skill of paintless dent repair,” which she described as a method of fixing dents in car fenders by using tools on the inside and outside of fenders to push out the dent.
Getting settled in metro Atlanta wasn’t easy at first, she said. “I hated it here,” she said.
hen, in 2012, Scott died from an aneurism in his brain. Lisa suddenly had to take over the business, called Unique Auto Appearance, and run it by herself. “Solo,” she said.
It hasn’t been easy. She says other business owners think they can take advantage of her simply because she’s a woman owner in a male-dominated business. She hired her own staff and still operates her business from the repair shop located among the cluster of car dealers on Peachtree Industrial.
“It is a man’s world, but being in it since I was 17, I don’t look at it that way,” she said. “In Georgia it’s that way, but in Miami, it’s not. I take my business seriously. If something happens to somebody’s car, I fix it. I look at clients’ cars as if they’re my own cars.”