Proactive body shops are recognizing the inexorable change to waterborne paint, especially in states where the laws are looming, but not yet a reality. Anticipating an advantage over their feet-dragging competitors in the next few years are forward-thinking shops like Old Forge Collision Centers, a 20-year-old company with two locations in Pennsylvania that together repair an average of nearly 200 vehicles monthly.
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Old Forge’s General Manager, Bob Scarpello, 54, is a 30-year veteran of the collision industry and a former painter. Three decades ago, his first job out of tech school was painter’s helper and by continually learning and improving his skills, Scarpello eventually progressed up the ladder into upper management.
One of the first things Scarpello did when he was hired at Old Forge, was to take a long, serious look at converting both of his locations to waterborne paint, he told Autobody News.
“We were one of the first body shops in Pennsylvania to go with waterborne paint. When I came here in 2003, after reading everything I could get my hands on about waterborne painting systems, I realized that it would eventually be coming here. I mean, Europe has been using it for decades, so what are we waiting for?”
Sometimes a negative or even tragic event can lead to a positive outcome. When a serious fire hit Collision Solutions in Indianapolis, IN, and destroyed its paint booth, management took the opportunity to make lemonade from lemons. The fire, bad as it was, gave the owners a chance to rearrange the shop’s layout and make some important changes—in this case waterborne. Instead of being paralyzed by the devastation, the shop made some moves. They bought a new cutting-edge ECO Expert paint booth from Global Finishing Solutions (GFS) and converted one of their locations to waterborne paint before any restrictions mandated it. Collision Solutions was soon turning out amazing paint jobs and their crew quickly became fully comfortable with waterborne and the numerous benefits offered by their new GFS paint booth.
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“We took a couple of the prep stations and replaced all of the old equipment with GFS equipment after looking at several companies. We went with GFS based on what people out there in the industry were telling us about the company and its track record.
Owner Aaron Clark, 40, is a second-generation body shop owner whose parents operated a shop more than three decades ago. “I started working in our family’s shop when I was 16 and worked my way up from porter to technician,” Clark told Autobody News. “In 1994, my partner and I opened our own shop in friendly competition with my parents’ company. It was a very successful operation that eventually grew into a two-location business in the Indianapolis area.”
When his customers are spending big money on vehicles costing more than $50,000, and sometimes well into six figures, Jim Frost, the manager at Prestige Imports Collision Center in Lakewood, Colorado, knows his paint jobs have to be top-tier every single time. That’s why he’s enthused on several levels about his conversion to waterborne paint. Frost is very pleased about the performance and the finished product he’s getting with Glasurit 90-Line, BASF’s waterborne product, and Prestige is proud to be a Colorado waterborne pioneer—the very first body shop in the Centennial State to adopt the green approach nearly three years ago.
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Frost, now 41, started working for his father’s shop at age 15. Now his collision center serves three Colorado dealerships: Prestige Imports’: Porsche Audi; Mercedes-Benz of Littleton; and Mile High Honda Acura Mitsubishi. Prestige Imports Collision Center will repair any type of vehicle, but primarily focuses on the European brands its dealership sells, as well as Ferraris, Bentleys, Maseratis and Lotuses, among others. With 19 employees, this 19,000 square-ft. facility has an average repair ticket of approximately $3,300 and at any given point it’s likely that the shop will have more than a dozen repair orders in-house averaging more than $20,000 each.
Frost conducted an in-depth study before he chose BASF as his paint vendor, he told Autobody News. “We decided to change to waterborne and adopt all of the California laws even before they went into effect there. We analyzed all of the waterborne paint lines that were out there starting a little more than three years ago. We discovered that BASF offered an ideal solution for us in our environment. Many of the cars we repair were originally painted with BASF waterborne from the factory. We liked the product and appreciate their support, so that was a big part of the decision.”
SCRS and its Repairer Driven Education (RDE) series created plenty of excitement on their own from November 1-4 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. One of the many reasons the Society’s booth was crowded with enthusiastic collision repair professionals was a series of prize drawings made possible through the participation of SCRS and its sponsors.
One such prize was the CM253 MIG/MAG Welder donated by Car-O-Liner®, and the lucky winner of the raffle for it was Glen Caudle, Owner of Glendale Collision in Saskatoon, Canada. “I couldn’t believe it when I received the call,” Caudle shared. “I’ve been coming to the SEMA Show for the past four years, but I’ve never won anything like this. I’m so happy to have won this from SCRS, and what makes it great is I already use Car-O-Liner equipment in my shop. We can’t wait to put it to work!”
To become eligible for the drawing, visitors to the SCRS booth had to pick up a “report card” listing all RDE sponsors and their booth locations within the show. The participant then had to visit each RDE sponsor’s exhibit, have a company representative stamp the card, and return the completed card to the SCRS booth for entry into the drawing.
The Girl Scouts of Citrus Council joined the industry on the NACE show floor Saturday, October 8th from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm.
The girls met with female leaders in the industry, learned about the influential and transformative work being done by women in this field and explored the expo floor searching for those unique “tools for success” our industry has to offer. Among the women who spoke to the girls was Cathy Mills, Executive Director of the Florida Auto Collision Alliance (FACA).
Mills stated, “I had the opportunity of giving them the opening talk on Saturday morning. With my mother, myself, and my daughter as Girl Scout troop leaders it was a privilege to speak to the girls about diverse career opportunities available in this industry. Speaking to them about a bit of my history in the industry and my journey from a parts driver to the executive director of the FACA. How as long as you give whatever you do 110% you can succeed at anything. I have always been passionate about education and supporting women in the industry.”
This year Collision Hub, who has put the event on for the last two years, also added a panel discussion and lunch hosted by LKQ where the Girl Scouts had a chance to meet with and hear from leaders in the industry on topics ranging from the science behind the collision repair industry to the diverse career opportunities available.
Girl Scouts: Tools for Success was powered by Enterprise Rent-A-Car and was made possible by the generous sponsorship of companies at every level of the collision repair industry.
For more information about this program please visit www.collisionhub.com.
Collex Collision Experts, a multi-shop operation with facilities in Michigan and Florida, was awarded CSi Complete’s “Clearly Elite” award for customer satisfaction at the 2011 SEMA Show.
“CSi Complete is blessed to have many outstanding customers, but Collex Collision is most deserving of our 2011 Clearly Elite customer of the year award,” said David Merrell, vice president of sales and service for CSi Complete. “Collex Collision Experts is a valued partner and an exceptional customer service organization.”
Merrell went on to say that the MSO won the award as a result of the company’s continuously high customer service indexing (CSI) and its community involvement.
“It’s a true pleasure to be in an industry that allows me to not just serve people, but give me the opportunity to get to know people’s needs on a much more personal level, always building effective healthy relationships,” said Amanda Gottschling, CSR at Collex in Clinton Township, MI.
Collex serves its surrounding communities by always giving back. Founders of the Wheels of HOPE Outreach program, Collex gives cars to families in need. They’re also platinum sponsors and partners with Safe Haven 4 Kids of Michigan, a program to help abused children.
For more information visit www.collex.com.
The National Auto Body Council (NABC) announced the winners of the 16th annual Pride Awards on November 2 at the 2011 SEMA Show. The NABC began bestowing the awards on deserving individuals in the collision repair industry to further their mission to create positive public awareness of the collision repair industry.
Jessica Anderson, a student of collision repair at Wiregrass Georgia Technical College, was the only student to receive a Pride Award this year. Anderson is a Skills USA participant who decided she wanted to use her collision training to help people in her community. She observed plenty of students in need of affordable, reliable transportation and saw plenty of cars in the area just waiting to be fixed. Utilizing the resources at her school, she brought a car in need of repair to the mechanical department of her school, then she and her team of dedicated students and instructors finished the collision repair work. That project went to a fulltime criminal justice student with a family of four, previously without transportation. This is to be the first in series of reconstructed vehicles that will be donated to Wiregrass Georgia Technical College students recommended by their instructors. Jessica is working with instructor Mark Tilson to procure more cars and expand the program into the community.
Other Pride Award winners included Jordan Hendler, Joe Gloar, Derek Willemson and Richard Henegar Jr. for heroic efforts in their individual communities. More information about each award winner can be found at www.autobodycouncil.org.
Service King Collision Repair Centers, a Texas-based multiple shop operator with locations in the Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston and San Antonio markets, acquired B&B Body and Paint in November. B&B operates five high-volume collision centers in Austin, San Marcos and Leander, Texas.
Service King says the addition of B&B Body and Paint positions the company as the largest independently and employee-owned collision repair organization in the United States. With 47 Texas locations throughout Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston, Service King is now able to serve 70 percent of the $1.5 billion total collision market in Texas.
“The acquisition of B&B Body and Paint allows us to start serving the people of South Austin, North Austin, San Marcos, Round Rock and Leander, Texas,” said Service King Austin Market Vice President Jeremy Lennox. “We’re thrilled about the addition of B&B’s talented employees and skilled technicians to our base of over 1,400 Service King teammates throughout Texas.”
“We are very excited about B&B Body and Paint joining the Service King Team,” said Craig Van Cleve, B&B Body and Paint’s owner. “For the past 32 years, our success has been driven by our unrelenting focus on complete satisfaction and respect for our customers and employees. Service King will continue on with these same core values.”
Cathy Bonner, president of Service King, added, “In DFW and Houston, Service King is known as one of the ‘best places to work’ by the Dallas Business Journal, and we plan to bring our same level of health, retirement and career benefits to all new teammates in Austin. The reason Service King is the largest employee-owned collision repair center in the United States is because the people in this company care about their customers and the trauma they go through after a collision.”
John Borek, general manager at Autocraft Bodywerks off South Congress Avenue in Austin, built a spaceship to put in his front yard especially for Halloween this year. The shiny flying saucer looks as if it has crashed into the lawn and is surrounded by yellow “caution: radiation area” tape.
Borek figures it took 80 to 100 hours of labor to put together his out-of-this-world contraption, according to the Austin-American Statesman. Although it’s made mostly of aluminum, the rounded top is a salad bowl. The saucer plays the theme from “The X-Files” and blows smoke.
“I put a fog machine in it. Every year I’ve added stuff, so now it has smoke coming out of it.” said Borek, 47, whose auto body refinishing skills came in handy when creating this Halloween masterpiece. “I could have put a crashed car in the yard, but that probably wouldn’t have been a good Halloween prop.”
The saucer, 8 feet in diameter, is in its second year as a Halloween special. Borek figures he spent $2,000 to put this year’s version together.
The Texas Independent Automotive Association (TIAA) presented a thousand dollar donation check to the Automotive Technology Academy on November 16 at a career fair for the North East Independent School District (NEISD) in San Antonio, Texas.
David Bailey, Director of The Automotive Technology Academy, received the check from TIAA’s Membership Director, Hunter Hooge. According to Hooge, the donation funds will be used for tools and uniforms for students. The Academy helps prepare high school students for work in the automotive industry by combining students interested in automotive technologies from several local area high schools into one statewide program.
The Automotive Technology Academy is a state of the art facility where students are challenged to become life-long learners in the ever-changing automotive industry. Any NEISD high school student interested in this curriculum can attend the facility for this two period course. Admittance into the program is by application which is reviewed and followed by an interview with an instructor. The Academy originally opened its doors for the 2006–2007 school year. Prior to this the four high school campuses in San Antonio that were teaching the automotive courses were Roosevelt, Madison, Lee and Churchill. The board’s vision was to have a stand alone magnet program, not only to reduce costs to taxpayers, but also to keep up with the ever-changing automotive technology.
ATA is a three year program designed for students starting in 10th grade and finishing with an internship program their senior year. ATA students have the opportunity to learn automotive brake systems, suspension systems, electrical and electronic systems and engine diagnostics, among other skills.
Having 27 donated vehicles in the program each year allows the students to apply academics with real hands-on experiences.
For more information about ATA and TIAA, visit www.neisd.net/auto and www.tiaa.net.