At the age of 26, Mel Donenfeld (pictured above with sons Eric, left, and Cory, right) opened Northwest Autobody and Towing in 1978.
The business provides major auto body collision repair and towing service in the northern Idaho region, and is Gold Class certified by I-CAR – an international organization which promotes the highest level of technical skill in the collision industry.
In 2014 Northwest Autobody, and Towing opened a second, Bonner County location, in Ponderay. That same year Northwest Autobody and Towing was named the Farmers insurance repair facility of the year.
Northwest Autobody is a participant in the Sandpoint High School auto body program, providing opportunities for local students to learn the business and the industry. In fact, Northwest Auto Body has employees who started in the SHS program and stayed. One of those employees is Vinny, a 20-year employee.
Northwest Autobody has deep ties to the region, and cares about the community.
The Donenfeld Family Story
In the late 1960’s, Mel Donenfeld was a young man with big dreams and a rebel attitude trying to find his own path in this world. He worked as a taxi cab driver in New York which gave him the inspiration to travel the world. Fresh out of high school, Mel set out on his own path with only a few bucks in his wallet and a big dream. As he got started on his journey, he passed an auto body shop in Boston that caught his eye. He thought he would ask the owner if he had any extra paint laying around. The owner of the shop gave him some paint and in return Mel helped the body shop owner wash some cars and clean the shop. The owner was so impressed in Mel’s work ethic that he offered him a job. Mel accepted the opportunity and worked there for about a year which enticed Mel’s curiosity in the auto body and paint profession.
My name is Kirk and auto body work has been my passion for most of my life. My first job started out on accident when I wrecked my car and needed it repaired. I began working for an auto body shop in lieu of repairing my vehicle. At that time, I was told I had a knack for the industry and was very skilled. Eventually, I went to school for auto body repair and was offered a job in Seattle, Washington. Once an employee, a family member and I became the owners. After selling our shop, I moved to Yakima and began teaching part-time as an automotive high school teacher, all the while keeping my hand in the auto body repair industry through education of my own. To be closer to my wife’s parents we moved to Portland, Oregon and I began working for Kadell’s Auto Body.
My name is Brian and I have been working in collision repair for about 12 years. Most of my career has been spent in Arizona up until my family and I recently relocated to North Idaho. From the beginning, I was always fascinated with the power of frame machines. As an apprentice, I spent much of my time working with and learning from the technicians who were performing heavy collision repairs. Over time, I was able to perform advanced pulling techniques because of the things I was shown by my mentors. One thing that has remained paramount with me is something that my uncle taught me: “This customer’s vehicle is like a diamond ring. Whether it’s dirty or clean, it’s still a diamond ring, you need to make it sparkle and shine.” I realize that every customer’s vehicle is potentially their second largest investment and they are entrusting this investment to me. I take pride in every repair I perform, from the least to the greatest.