Chicago-based startup grows rapidly, fielding over 1,300 auto body damage reports and claming to save consumers an average of $750 per car repair.
BodyShopBids, an online and mobile platform that enables consumers to solicit custom car repair estimates by uploading a photo, announced on Nov. 10 that it has written $1.5 million in body repair estimates within its first five months of service.
The Lightbank-funded company launched in June 2011. Since then, BodyShopBids has partnered with more than 160 body shops in Chicago and saved its customers an average of 60 percent on each car repaired, the company claims.
Accessible for free via iPhone, Android and the Web, BodyShopBids is the first of its kind to connect consumers who need auto body repairs with body shops through a unique bidding system. Consumers upload a photo of their damaged vehicles and receive custom quotes from nearby body shops within 24 hours. A personal concierge also educates consumers on the repair process. From there, the consumer chooses an estimate and books an appointment with the body shop.
The Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) is again calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to take action against a carmaker—this time Mazda—for its policy statements relating to the use of aftermarket parts for vehicle repairs. Similar complaints were made by AAIA against Honda in 2010 when the FTC sided with the carmaker.
In a letter to the FTC’s Associate Director for Marketing Practices, Lois Greisman, the AAIA—along with the Automotive Oil Change Association (AOCA), the Service Station Dealers of America, and the Tire Industry Association—argue that Mazda’s claim in a recent brochure that “aftermarket parts are generally made to a lower standard” is unsubstantiated. The groups say this is misleading consumers and are calling on the FTC to require Mazda to either to provide substantiation of their claim or issue a retraction.
The letter states that “The wording in the Mazda release totally contradicts FTC’s alert by making the assumption that the aftermarket part would cause the warranty not to be honored rather than the fact that the use of the aftermarket part is permissible unless proven otherwise. Therefore, AAIA and AOCA further request that the Commission take immediate action to require Mazda to withdraw the release and issue a correction: that use of non-Mazda parts are permissible, and that it would be Mazda’s burden of proof to prove a non-Mazda part caused any alleged damage before denying warranty coverage.
The AAIA claims that statements made by Mazda are misleading consumers about the use of aftermarket parts and those statements are a violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, a law that says companies may not condition warranty coverage on the use of only original equipment parts.
The letter also takes issue with a statement by Mazda that “Only Genuine Mazda Parts purchased from an authorized Mazda dealer are specifically covered by the Mazda warranty. The original warranty could become invalid if aftermarket parts contribute to the damage of original parts.” The aftermarket groups contend that the wording of this paragraph, combined with the statements regarding the quality of aftermarket parts, is intended to misinform consumers about their vehicle warranties and are in violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
Daimler will further expand its U.S. plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama: as of 2015, an entirely new Mercedes-Benz model will roll off the production line as its fifth product. The plant has been the traditional production site of the brand's M-, GL-, and R-Class SUVs and will also build the C-Class for the North American market beginning 2014. For the production of the new model, Daimler will additionally invest US$ 350 million, and will create some 400 further jobs at the plant.
Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Daimler Board of Management and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars: "This new model from the Tuscaloosa plant is an important element of our growth strategy. It is one of the ten additional models which we will introduce within the next four years alone across all segments." Referring to the Tuscaloosa plant's role within the global production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Zetsche added: "At the same time, we are systematically broadening our manufacturing footprint in the NAFTA region."
Robert Bentley, Governor of the State of Alabama: "Since the time Mercedes-Benz chose Tuscaloosa County for its first US assembly plant 18 years ago, the company has proven to be an outstanding partner for the state. We join MBUSI in celebrating this milestone, and welcome the hundreds of jobs this announcement brings to Alabama."
A mid-year update reveals that the "Auto Angels" are on target for this year’s Christmas giveaway of reconditioned vehicles to needy recipients.
“Thanks to the support of many sponsors and the collision repairers involved in this program, thus far we have five vehicles which will be ready at the end of July," said David Stewart of Stewart’s Auto Repair in Winterhaven, Fla.
These include a:
• 2001 Ford Escort four-door
• 1999 Neon four-door
• 2002 Chrysler Voyager van
• 2001 Grand Marquis
• 1991 Nissan Pathfinder SUV
The National Auto Body Council (NABC) changed the lives of five Florida families on Oct. 7 at the NACE convention in Orlando by giving them each a newly refurbished vehicle through Recycled Rides, a national initiative that refurbishes donated vehicles and gives them to families in need and organizations dedicated to assisting others.
The Florida Autobody Collision Alliance contributed to the success of this program this year. With NACE being held in Orlando, Cathy Mills executive director was contacted to assist in the coordinating for this year’s program. What an absolute honor and privilege to have been involved in such a program where the gifting of these cars to these so deserved families would change their lives forever. These families where using public transportation and spending anywhere from 3-6 hours a day on buses. Going to the everyday places/appointments you and I take for granted. Grocery shopping, doctors appointments, and work.
The program works with charities in specific geographic areas to find qualified recipients that need a vehicle on which they can depend to continue leading productive lives.
Marenza Guyos and her four-year-old daughter from Jacksonville, Fla., received their vehicle in conjunction with the charity Community Connections located in the same city.
Wounded warriors currently taking part in rehabilitation programs at the San Antonio Military Medical Center took aim on October 1 at a free skeet shoot courtesy of Lone Star Radiator Company, an associate member of the Texas Independent Automotive Association (TIAA).
Lone Star Radiator Company honored America’s military heroes for their extreme sacrifices in combat by hosting the event. With the help of sponsors the wounded military personnel were equipped with shotguns, ammo and everything else needed to fire at the elusive clay birds.
The event was sponsored by Lone Star Radiator Company, Rio Skeet Mobile Skeet Shoots, Monterey Iron & Medal Company, Thompson Print & Matting Solutions, Pure Party ice, Triple J. Pumps Inc., Circus Bingo and Veteran Outdoors.
David Bippert, co-owner of Lone Star Radiator, said his company started the event a year ago because everyone at the company wanted to give something back to the men and women who have served and sacrificed for freedom.
At the skeet shoot, Bippert said there were many volunteers who gladly provided services, cooked and cleaned because they wanted to see the Soldiers enjoying this unique sport and be able to eat a brisket lunch with all the fixings.
Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon is retaining his elected post, according to Insurance Journal.
Donelon, a Republican from Metairie, was re-elected on Oct. 22. He defeated Democratic opponent Donald Hodge, who criticized Donelon for receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from insurance companies.
A former lawmaker, Donelon said he’s approached the insurance regulatory post fairly, increasing competition to the state and stabilizing a market ravaged by four hurricanes since 2005.
Donelon has been insurance commissioner of Louisiana since 2006.
Palladium Equity Partners, LLC, a private investment firm, announced November 7 that it has partnered with management to recapitalize ABRA Auto Body & Glass. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Founded in 1984, ABRA is a recognized leader in collision repair, paintless dent removal, and auto glass repair and replacement with 75 company-owned vehicle damage repair centers and 38 franchised centers in 12 states. ABRA distinguishes itself by providing a solution that seeks to enable its insurance company partners to substantially improve customer satisfaction and drive policyholder retention, while simultaneously reducing repair costs and realizing substantial efficiencies in the claims management process. ABRA's commitment to operational excellence allows it to consistently offer high quality service to its customers and insurance partners.
Rollie Benjamin, ABRA's founder, will remain Chairman of the Company and Tim Adelmann and Scott Krohn will continue in their senior executive roles. Duane Rouse, ABRA's President and Chief Financial Officer, was appointed Chief Executive Officer in connection with the transaction.
Rouse said, "We are extremely pleased to be working with Palladium, a firm with a strong track record as an investor and many years of experience helping companies grow. With this partnership in place, we are well-positioned to accelerate our national expansion plan, and to further our mission of becoming the leading auto body and glass company in America."
Luis Zaldivar, a Managing Director at Palladium, said "ABRA is well-known throughout the industry as a premier provider of auto body, auto glass and paintless dent repair services. But it is ABRA's innovative service model and deep insurance industry relationships that truly set it apart. The Company has a terrific management team that has guided its organic growth over the course of nearly three decades–including through the establishment of a highly successful franchise program. Palladium looks forward to partnering with ABRA on a range of new market opportunities in the months and years ahead."
The Right to Repair Coalition announced October 21 that it has collected 106,658 voter signatures after just 19 days of effort, well exceeding the 68,911 required for the initiative to appear on the 2012 ballot in Massachusetts.
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.”
The Pennsylvania Collision Trade Guild postponed their first collision industry seminar to March 30 and 31 of 2012, the event was originally supposed to take place in October. The Coalition for Collision Repair Excellence (CCRE) will be held at the Hilton Airport Hotel in Philadelphia.
The CCRE will focus on the legal aspects of running a collision business. Speakers will include attorneys Erica Eversman and John Parese and they will explain the proper use of authorization to repair and repair contracts, blueprinting and damage analysis, eliminating supplements, job costing profit including profit on paint and materials, final billing and collections, and assignment of proceeds.
The cost of the event is $495.99 per person. After Sept 15 the cost is $595.99. Cost includes breakfast and lunch both days.
For accomodations please contact the Hilton at 215-365-4150 ext. 33.