Items filtered by date: November 2011

The Right to Repair Coalition announced October 21 that it has collected 106,658 voter signatures, exceeding the 68,911 required for the initiative to appear on the 2012 ballot in Massachusetts.

Said Kathleen Schmatz, president and CEO of the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA): “We are very pleased with the growing support for Right to Repair on both the federal and state levels. The momentum building in Congress, coupled with the groundswell of support from voters in Massachusetts, demonstrates how important Right to Repair is to consumers, especially in a tough economy,” said Schmatz.  “Right to Repair will help alleviate motorists’ financial burden by ensuring a competitive vehicle repair marketplace, allowing car owners to patronize the repair facility of their choice.”

According to the Right to Repair Coalition, the voter initiative would, for the first time, allow consumers to access all of the non-proprietary repair information required to have their vehicles repaired where they choose, at a new car dealership or an independent shop. The proposed law would level the playing field between the big car manufacturers’ dealerships and independent, neighborhood repair facilities, allowing the latter to finally be able to access the same non-proprietary automobile diagnostic and repair information that is currently only available to the manufacturers’ dealers and their new car dealerships.

“It’s time that car owners have the right to get our vehicles repaired wherever we choose,” said Jeff McLeod of Marshfield, one of the signers of the ballot petition. “The growing support for this issue shows how important it is for consumers, especially in a difficult economy.”


ALLDATA, Future Cure, Hunter Engineering, Metropolitan Car-O-Liner, Mitchell, SAIMA/Accudraft and Subaru are among the exhibitors already signed up for the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of New Jersey (AASP/NJ)’s 35th annual NORTHEAST™ Automotive Services Show at the Meadowlands. NORTHEAST™ 2012 will take place March 9-11 at the Meadowlands Expedition Center in Secaucus, NJ.

“We’re pleasantly surprised with the early sign-ups,” says AASP/NJ President Jeff McDowell. Early exhibitors include Aeromotive, Audatex, Flemington Car & Truck Country, Hella, Integrity Security Systems, LKQ, Procut USA, Steck Manufacturing, Suburban Manufacturing Inc. / Tsunami Industries, Team PRP and the Radiator Store.

“Our show is kind of like the working man’s show,” McDowell said.

For more information on the show and AASP/NJ, please visit


A bill to ban texting while driving, amended in October to make it a primary offense, passed the House on November 7 and won concurrence in the Senate November 8 by a vote of 45-5. It now awaits the governor’s signature, according to The Harrisburg Times Herald.

Gov. Corbett is expected to sign the bill, pending a final review, Gary Miller, a spokesman for the governor’s office, said.

Pennsylvania joins 34 states and the District of Columbia that have banned texting while driving. Of those, 31 enforce the ban as a primary offense, meaning police can pull over a motorist observed texting while driving.

Senate Bill 314 bans reading, writing or sending a text message while driving. A provision to ban hand-held cell phone use for calls was previously stripped from the bill.

The bill initially called for texting to be a secondary offense—a motorist could only be ticketed following an accident or if stopped for a primary offense—but an amendment making texting a primary offense, sponsored by state Rep. Josh Shapiro, D-153, passed in the House Oct. 25 by a vote of 128-69. The full bill with the amendment attached passed the next day in the House 164-29. The final House vote on the bill November 7 was a near-unanimous 188-7.

Shapiro, who has sponsored several bills to ban the use of hand-held cell phones, termed S.B. 314 “a big win for safety in Pennsylvania.”

“After seven years of fighting we finally passed a ban on texting while driving in Pennsylvania and made it a primary offense,” Shapiro said. “This is the strongest bill possible.”


Toby Chess wants repairers to email him the details of ill-fitting or poor-quality parts—whether OEM or non-OEM, certified or non-certified. “I’m not against aftermarket parts,” Chess has repeatedly said. “My message is that all that shops want are good quality parts that don’t require margin-eating extra days or hours of returns and refitting. Where they come from is not the issue.” Email him with the details at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Published in INDUSTRY NEWS

As he has for the previous 30 years, Sam Mikhail of Prestige Auto Body attended the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of New Jersey (AASP/NJ)’s annual membership meeting at the Crowne Plaza Hotel of Clark in late October. Mikhail was expecting to appreciate that night’s presentations by Erica Eversman and Larry Montenez, but what Mikhail didn’t expect was the surprise announcement that he was the 28th member of AASP/NJ’s Hall of Fame.

“I am honored and thrilled to receive such a prestigious honor,” Mikhail said from his shop in Garwood, NJ. “It really never crossed my mind. To be acknowledged by my peers this way is very, very gratifying.”

Mikhail’s was one of several awards presented during the event. Flemington Auto Body (Flemington, NJ) was named the Stan Wilson / New Jersey Automotive Body Shop of the Year; Edison Generator Tire and Auto Center (Dayton, NJ) was named New Jersey Automotive Mechanical Shop of the Year and Deivy Planco was awarded the Russ Robson Scholarship, which is given each year to an automotive repair student in memory of the late AASP/NJ former president.

But the surprise Hall Of Fame announcement was clearly the highlight of the night. “Sammy has been an incredibly dedicated member to the association for what seems like forever,” AASP/NJ President Jeff McDowell says with a laugh. “Seriously, Sam is the kind of guy who is there anytime you need him. I don’t think he’s missed a meeting in decades. Sam’s a fighter. You might not agree with everything he fights for, but he you can’t deny that he has been and always be an asset to our association and our industry. We’re proud to have him in the Hall of Fame. It’s overdue.”

For more information on AASP/NJ, please visit


You can ring the bell as Round 2 of the “Battle of the Century” has ended. Yes, “NACE vs. SEMA, Part 2” was very different from the prior year. The battleground changed from a Las Vegas faceoff to an Orlando vs. Las Vegas showdown.

To view a PDF of this article please click HERE.

This year’s winner is in the eye of the beholder. NACE (the International Autobody Congress and Exposition) and its sponsoring organization, the Automotive Service Association, have staked their claim as the undisputed “Collision Industry Trade Show Champion.”

Meanwhile, the Society of Collision Repair Specialists has teamed up with SEMA and announced their contention to be the new “Heavyweight Champion.”

So who was this year’s winner? I personally think it was a draw—with one exception: There was a clear loser. I’ll give you a hint. It’s an eight letter word that begins with an “I” and ends with a “Y.” The collision industry is divided and stuck supporting two trade shows. The NACE and SEMA divide is all about “I” (rather than “we”) and the industry is holding the bag and left asking “Y?” So how and why is the industry losing in a fight it never asked for?

I was one of a small percentage of people who had the good fortune and fortitude to attend both shows. I experienced both the aging NACE and the upstart SEMA show. I was forced to dedicate two-plus weeks to accomplish what normally would take me one week. I successfully met with all the individuals and companies that requested my presence and knowledge.

Published in Insurance Insider

Clarkstown International Collision in Nanuet, NY, works hard to be an asset to their community. Their focus on customer service extends beyond community and environmental conscientiousness. Their concern for protecting the environment led to their decision to convert to BASF waterborne paints in early 2011, a decision that owners, Gene and Anna Cortés, have not regretted.

To view a PDF of this article please click HERE.

Clarkstown stays up to date with all EPA and OSHA regulations, for their own preservation in addition to the environment’s. In addition to recycling all metal, cardboard, headlights, bumpers, aluminum and alloy wheels, they have also gone completely paperless—all filing and paperwork is done electronically.

Recently, the shop also made the change to BASF’s Glasurit line of waterborne paint. Clarkstown  converted to Glasurit in March 2011, and Gene Cortés is very pleased with the results. He decided to convert because of environmental and health concerns, not because of any local mandate.

Additionally, the new paint is easier to use and allows for better color matching. Most of the vehicles Clarkstown deals with ale newer models, and they have not encountered problems with color matching because, according to Gene, “we work with a paint company that offers a lot of training and support, which all of our painters have participated in.” He praises the trainers at BASF for making the transition very easy. “They made the process painless and their support is excellent. They answer any and all questions promptly and effectively.”

Published in Shop Showcase

Blue Hen Collision Express in Dover, Delaware, prides itself on customer service and reputation. They are the longest established  independent body shop in central Delaware with revenue exceeding $2,000,000 annually. Blue Hen’s mission statement is we solve customers’ problems and that is reflected in their focus on customer satisfaction which owners Carl and Chuck Cimino say they have greatly improved since they purchased the business in 1997. The shop works on between ninety and one hundred cars each month, a significant number for the sparsely populated area in which they are located.

To view a PDF of this article please click HERE.

Cimino’s Collision Express was opened in 1983, and Chuck and Carl  purchased Blue Hen Collision Express in November, 1997. Both had been involved in the industry for years prior to the purchase. Their uncles owned an auto body shop where Chuck worked during the summers as a teenager. Armed only with an interest and aptitude for the business, Chuck rented two bays at a dealership owned by a friend of his aunt and opened his own shop when he was seventeen years old.

Carl owned a shop in the Philadelphia area, and after he became involved with the CARSTAR franchise in 1989, he met the then-owner of Blue Hen Collision.

Published in Shop Showcase

One of my customers asked me to provide feedback on an issue that I feel most collision repairers and insurance professionals would be interested in.

To view a PDF of this article please click HERE.

There was a three way discussion between two shops and an insurer concerning back taping along body lines on a vehicle’s roof. The question I received was concerning durability of the back-taped edge and/or should the shop clear up and over to the other side? Everybody reading this likely agrees that the technique of back taping a roof is common place and practiced industry wide. Most will likely not think twice about doing it.

To set the stage, I also assume that most people in the industry today have accepted that open solvent blends along the sail panel are not an acceptable repair and should not be performed. And those roofs without a well contoured edge to tape along should be cleared up and over.

So what about the rest? My answer to this comes in the form of another question. How lucky do you feel? The reason for my question is that this technique is a calculated risk assessment.

If the surface is cleaned and prepped expertly and no shortcuts are taken, back taping will result in a long lasting repair. The questions that are impossible to answer are how long a long time is and will this edge hold up longer then the vehicle is owned by your client or remains in active service? Given just enough time, the edge ultimately will deteriorate and break down.

High, long-term exposure to ultra violet rays, wear and tear, chemical exposure, as well as too much, or too little maintenance, all contribute to the unknown time before it will happen. Doing this type of repair is a judgment call that needs to be openly discussed between collision repairer and insurance provider.

I don’t have the latest numbers on how long the average American driver holds on to their vehicle before it is traded in for a replacement in the present economy, but I believe the odds are very much in the repairers and insurance favor. Although the odds may be favorable, the question that comes to my mind is concerning warranty.

From a fiscal standpoint this type of repair approach makes perfect sense, but from a manufacturer’s prospective, this repair doesn’t qualify for lifetime warranty coverage, as it is still technically considered an open blend.

I don’t claim to have a good answer to this debate. From a purely quality driven point of view, I have to side with the up and over crowd. From a practical, fiscal point of view, the tapers also make a strong case for themselves.

Are you taking a risk when you back tape along a roof line? Yes, but compared to elective risks some collision repair shops willingly take, like mixing and matching different brand’s paint products into a single paint repair for example, taping the edge will let me sleep well tonight. It all comes down to how you feel about this issue and let your best judgment guide you.

Published in Stefan Gesterkamp

Sooner or later you will pay for a faulty product, deliver a product or service that you did not get paid for, or have a dispute with another business. Regardless of how the dispute occurs, someone will owe you money but will refuse to pay. If the dispute is over a large sum of money, you will typically need to file a regular lawsuit which tends to be complex, cumbersome, and expensive.

To view a PDF of this article please click HERE.

However, there is a special division within each California court devoted entirely to resolving smaller disputes in a speedy, informal, and inexpensive manner—it is called the small claims court. This article explains the basics of how to sue in small claims court, and the steps you need to take to maximize your chances of winning. Keep in mind that this article provides general guidance only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. There may be facts specific to your situation that must be addressed by a lawyer or a small claims legal advisor.

Published in INDUSTRY NEWS
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Harrisburg, Pa.
Tel: (717) 564-8400


AASP-New Jersey
Neptune, N.J.
Tel: (732) 922-8909


Autobody Craftsmen’s Guild
826 Forest  Avenue
Staten Island, N.Y.
Tel: (718) 448-4075
Fax: (718)  448-4517

New York State Automotive Collision Technicians Association
Centereach, N.Y.
Tel: (631) 941-9647

Long Island Auto Body Repairmen’s Association (LIABRA)
Centereach, N.Y.
Ed Kizenberger
Tel: (631) 941-9647

Westchester-Putnam-Rockland Auto Body Association
Harrison, N.Y.
Tel: 914-698-4500  or  914-835-5688 aliases to:

New York State Association of Service Stations & Repair Shops (NYSASSRS)
Albany, N.Y. 12206
Tel: (518) 452-4367


Harrisburg, Pa.
Tel: (717) 564-8400

Pennsylvania Collision Trade Guild (PCTG)
Philadelphia, Pa.
Tel: (215) 342-1818

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