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Woody Woodyard ‘has an eye for a wreck,’ celebrating 30 years in collision service

By Andy Furman
NKyTribune correspondent

He’s the man no one wants to see – ever.

“But when they leave me,” says Woody Woodyard, “I make them smile.”

Woody Woodyard is the Collision Center Manager at Jake Sweeney’s Florence location – Kia, Fiat and Alfa Romeo.

Woody Woodyard has an eye for a wreck.

“I’ve been doing this work for almost half my life,” said the 65-year-old Woodyard, who’ll celebrate 30 years with the Jake Sweeney Automotive Family this May.

He’s been with the Kia, Fiat and Alfa Romeo division for three years – prior to that he worked in Tri-County.

“Cars,” he said, “have always been my passion. Even as a kid. I loved cars, and loved fixing them,” said the graduate of Norwood High School.

“I knew at an early age, my passion for cars would eventually be my life’s work,” he said.

Woodyard got his first real test at Scarlet Oaks Vocational School.

“That’s where I first got a hands-on working knowledge with cars,” he said. “I was a member of the first graduating class of Scarlet Oaks, 1975.”

And after graduation, he started what would be his life’s work – auto body work.

“Kings Chevrolet was my first stop,” he said, “I can’t honestly remember the very first auto I worked on, what was wrong with it, but it was – and still is a labor of love,” said the 65-year-old now resident of Lawrenceburg, Ind.

Certainly, he adds, there are challenges in this work, and Woodyard was quick to remind the hardest part of his job.

“That’s an easy answer,” he said, “dealing with the insurance companies.”

Woodyard cites a recent Alfa Romeo in his shop with some $42,000 in repairs after a mishap.

“I had to negotiate with four different adjusters before we could complete the job,” he said. “That back-and-forth took about three weeks.”

Woodyard also has an eye for a wreck.

“I can usually spot what kind of accident the vehicle was involved in,” he said, “and, of course I can tell what happened to the car. Deer hits are pretty common.”

Woodyard works in the Sweeney shop with a staff of five, and he says they usually repair some 40-50 cars-a-month.

Following World War, I, Walter Sweeney Sr. became Cincinnati’s first licensed used car dealer, operating several lots, most notably on Gilbert Avenue near Peebles corner.

For the next two decades he established himself as one of the city’s premier used car dealers.

In 1988, ground was broken in Florence as the company expanded across the river with a new Hyundai franchise.

The purchase of the Kia franchise was in 2001 from the DeCastro group for the Florence location.

A new Fiat franchise opened at the Florence location in 2012.

Most recently, in January 2020, the group purchased the Bill DeLord Buick/GMC/Cadillac dealership in Lebanon, Ohio.

Woody Woodyard has seen it all during his tenure with the dealership.

He’s also seen many smiles on customer’s faces – but only when they leave.

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