Lehigh Valley

Supreme Auto Body sold after 85 years in Lehigh Valley

SOUTH WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. - You may have taken your car to Supreme Auto Body in Allentown, or seen their classic ads for the "fender dent-ist". 

"I've always had Supreme in my veins," Tina Mellenberg said. 

She and her sister have been operating the auto shop since taking over from their brother in 2011. 

"Our uncle Joe Fonzone, he started the business in 1932 at this location, and in '55 passed it on to our father Mike Fonzone," she said. 

Now, after all that time, they're selling to a growing national chain called Caliber Collision.

"What's really important to Caliber is being part of the community," said Caliber Chief Information Officer Janet DeBerardinis.

Deberardinis is from the Valley, but now works at Caliber's headquarters in Dallas.

The company is growing fast.

"Six years ago when I joined Caliber we had 86 locations and were in two states. With the acquisition of Supreme we'll have 539 locations in 17 states," she said.

She says they plan to keep the same location and the same employees, which is important to people like Harry Mericle.

"Some kids had yards to play in, I lived upstairs. This was my yard," Mericle said. 

That was in the 1950s, and since then he's worked at Supreme on and off for his entire life.

"There's always been changes in our industry," said Mericle. "Cars have changed, metals have changed, the way we repair has changed. And Supreme's always been on that forefront."

Now another change, one that's bittersweet for Tina Mellenberg and her family. 

"There really isn't a third generation that has interest so I think the time is very appropriate," she said.

The goal, still, is to keep the business at the forefront.

"With the partnership of Caliber, I think they'll be able to take it to the next level," said Mellenberg.  

The official day of the acquisition is Dec. 1.

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