SOUTHEAST NEWS (367)
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MAACO announced its acquisition of Sprayglo Auto Refinishing and Body Repair’s seven shops located in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. Sprayglo, a 27-year-old company, is based in Hahira, GA.
"We are committed to growing our presence through acquisitions of other brands or independents which can accelerate our exposure and growth," said Jose Costa, president of MAACO. "Sprayglo has a compelling business model and outstanding unit economics in the region. We are excited about this addition to MAACO family and are confident this acquisition will result in a win-win for our customers and our brand alike."
MAACO franchisee Mulford Waldrop will purchase five of the existing Sprayglo shops—two in Georgia (Atlanta and Leesburg); one in Florida (Fort Walton Beach); one in Alabama (Saraland); and one in Mississippi (Gulfport). Each of these shops will be converted into MAACO centers within six months.
"I am happy to have the chance to expand my relationship with MAACO at this exciting time in the company's history," said Waldrop. "The brand's commitment to excellence, the franchisee family and the community at large, coupled with its plans and potential for growth offer limitless opportunity. I look forward to serving my new customers and helping them turn the cars they drive back into the cars they love."
Tesla Motors, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association have reached an agreement to allow the automaker to apply for a single dealership license, VADA CEO Don Hall. After the Virginia DMV denyed Tesla’s request in April to open a dealership in the area, Tesla appealed the ruling in Fairfax County Circuit Court.
Tesla has agreed to withdraw the lawsuit it filed after the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles rejected Tesla’s bid for a dealership license for its store in the Washington, DC, suburb of Tyson’s Corner, VA.
Now, after much deliberation between the company, state officials, and dealer representatives, the parties have decided to approve Tesla’s request to operate a dealership in Virginia.
Sunni Brown, public relations and media liaison of the Virginia DMV, offered the following statement to Auto Remarketing:
“Tesla, the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association, and the Department of Motor Vehicles, through counsel, came to an agreement and avoided litigation regarding the operation of a Tesla dealership in Virginia. After the initial ruling, the parties to the hearing engaged in discussions and, after consideration of those discussions and additional information presented, the Commissioner can determine that Tesla may own a Tesla dealership in Northern Virginia.”
The automaker now needs to get approval from the Virginia Motor Vehicle Dealer Board, the state regulatory agency that oversees dealers in the state, before it can begin selling vehicles in Virginia.
Hall couldn’t comment on the details of the deal because the agreement was made under a court seal, he said.
“It’s a matter of lots of compromise on everybody’s part,” Hall said. “Nobody is getting exactly what they want.”
The electric vehicle maker wants to eschew franchised dealerships and sell its cars directly to consumers, but dealer franchise laws in many states prohibit or limit factory sales.
As Tesla has grown its network of retail stores, a number of states have moved to tighten those restrictions on direct sales.
Virginia DMV Commissioner Richard Holcomb had rejected Tesla’s request to open its own store in April. State law allows factory-owned stores if no independent dealer is available to operate the store, but Holcomb said there wasn’t clear evidence that the exception was applicable.
The Virginia Motor Vehicle Dealer Board has yet to receive Tesla’s application, Bruce Gould, the board’s executive director, said. Gould said it typically takes a new dealership about two weeks to get approval.
“They’ve rented a location, they’re paying rent, they want to get rolling and we want to get them rolling,” Gould said of the board’s regulation process.
A Tesla spokeswoman confirmed that the company had reached an agreement with the Virginia dealers’ group and state Department of Motor Vehicles. She said Tesla plans to apply for a license to open a store in northern Virginia, but declined to say when it would do so.
“We are encouraged by the settlement and look forward to seeking a license to open a store and an associated service facility in Northern Virginia,” said a spokesman for the automaker.
The Independent Garage Owners of North Carolina (IGONC) recently held their annual Automotive Service & Technology Expo the weekend of September 27–29, 2013 at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Convention Center in Cary, NC. According to Executive Director Bob Pulverenti, the event went well with around 200–250 attendees, but most were from the mechanical side of the association as IGONC has had a more difficult time getting collision shops and their vendors involved.
IGONC does their best to put together useful seminars, and this year’s event featured 14 seminars on management and business related topics. Pulverenti believes these types of industry events are important. They present a good networking opportunity for shop owners to meet and work together, plus they provide a casual setting for interacting with vendors and suppliers.
In existence since 1968, the Washington Metropolitan Auto Body Association (WMABA) has spent the past 45 years supporting member shops and acting as their members’ voice for business and legislative concerns. The organization was founded by DC-area shops who sought to work together to combat some of the common issues facing the collision repair industry.
Since its inception, WMABA’s efforts have been focused on addressing shop issues and continuing education on a local and national level, including aspects regarding legislative issues. Because they emphasize the importance of addressing issues on a larger scale, many WMABA members have also played a key role in establishing larger national associations, including the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) of which the association is an affiliate. WMABA’s service area encompasses MD, VA & Washington DC, and as the association continued to grow, they absorbed the Virginia Auto Body Association.
In 2007 Jordan Hendler became the Executive Director of WMABA. Through her previous work with SCRS, NABC and CIC, Hendler has gained insight into collision repair markets and trends across the United States, and in her current role, she participates in national industry forums, such as SCRS and CIC, to address issues and try to affect positive change for collision repairers.
On a day-to-day basis, WMABA focuses on maintaining active involvement with current legislative initiatives in VA and MD, meeting with legislators and shop representatives, as well as participating in national groups. Additionally, WMABA conducts an annual labor rate survey for the region in order to report their findings to individual shop owners, local government and the industry at-large. Hendler also assists with addressing issues at a shop level, including documentation, OEM service providers and other problems that impact shops during their daily operations.
Hendler notes that the main challenge WMABA faces is keeping shops informed and involved with issues in the industry, including education, yet she notes, “I don’t feel that we’re alone in that; most associations deal with the same problem.”
One way they strive to combat these types of issues is through the publication of their monthly magazine Hammer & Dolly, as well as their quarterly membership newsletter which serves to disseminate relevant information and generate shop involvement within WMABA’s service area.
WMABA serves their members by offering representation in legislative matters, both locally and nationally, in addition to working with individual shops on their issues, such as in the instance of short-pay cases. The association also strives to keep their members educated and informed through their magazine and newsletter, as well as by holding educational meetings and seminars. They act as a resource for vendor and insurer contacts, but most importantly, WMABA is at their members’ disposal when they face any type of problem or have general questions.
Still, despite the many services WMABA provides to their members, Hendler claims that the biggest benefit members get from involvement with the association is “our peer network which gives them the opportunity to compare the issues they face with what other shops are going through. It lets them see that others are experiencing the same problems, and we’re all in this together.”
Regarding the challenges facing the industry as a whole, Hendler believes “shop awareness is the biggest hurdle. If all shops were aware of the proper repair techniques, tooling and education, these issues wouldn’t be as hard as they are, but many repairers don’t know how to gain access to proper information. Those who don’t know are affecting those who do. It’s not necessarily on purpose, but it is ignorance nonetheless.”
Hendler also notes that the advancement of vehicle technology, tooling and regulations is another challenge as it raises shops’ costs at the same time that insurers are becoming stricter in their payment of operations and services, especially for independent shops that do not participate in their direct repair programs. Thus, the cost of operation is steadily increasing while the ability to earn a profit decreases.
Though PartsTrader has been a ever present news item for over a year now, WMABA has not taken a stance against their business model specifically but instead is against any insurer-mandated program that dictates which vendors can be used. “It is an interference in the collision repair business,” says Hendler. In fact, the association is currently working on legislation and an agenda to address the process of mandating parts or supplies.
Why is WMABA’s legislative work so important? Hender explains, “it is one of the few options left to us to address these problems since the insurers are not willing to stop their pursuit.” Legislation also benefits the consumer because it “helps keep the free market free… if insurers become more involved in all aspects of collision repair, they reduce the shops’ ability to operate properly and give the customer the widest capacity of options for a safe repair.”
Hendler admits that there are challenges inherent in the legislative process, noting “it’s arduous at best.” In order to get new legislation to pass, WMABA must meet with legislators to convince them that the matter is in the best interest of their constituents, the consumers, and then, the legislators must vote. Hendler notes that the process is long; “we have to go through all of the committees and hearings to get the vote without the opposition tearing it down.” Luckily for WMABA members, Hendler is not easily discouraged and will continue to fight on their behalf to make the collision industry better for everyone involved.
Washington Metropolitan Auto Body Association (WMABA)
John Shoemaker of Virginia is an Air Force veteran with 23 years of service in the automotive field as a technician, trainer and shop instructor, and with several additional years as a collision center director for a major dealership group, overseeing three Bowditch Collision Centers, including a new one in Newport News, VA. Shoemaker is also a consultant with JSE, a company he created to share 35 years’ worth of automotive management experience and to assist other collision facilities in improving operations.
During the 30th anniversary of NACE in New Orleans, LA, in 2012, Shoemaker presented Negotiating for Success—a Look at the Negotiations Necessary to Keep Your Collision Center on Top.
Now, a year later, Shoemaker took some time to review why the topic of negotiating is a critical business skill; “shop owners are the only ones that know their needs and their abilities.”
Getting local shops involved tends to pose the biggest challenge for most collision repair associations, and this is currently the focus for the Tennessee Collision Repairers Association (TCRA). As TCRA strives to increase their membership, Executive Director Tony Nethery shared some insight into the association and their objectives.
TCRA was established in 2006 when three collision repair shop owners met for lunch and the conversation turned to “the struggles of going it alone in the collision industry,” according to Nethery. This casual conversation sparked an idea and a goal, leading to the first TCRA meeting about a month later which was held at a restaurant in Jackson, TN. One of the founders volunteered to serve as chair until a board could be formed and an official charter completed.
Though 50 people attended TCRA’s first meeting, “the crowd dwindled to about half of that when it was made clear that TCRA was being formed to increase knowledge and work together, not to do battle with insurers,” Nethery explains. Still, enough interest was generated to allow TCRA to form a second chapter in Nashville the following year. Currently, the Jackson chapter of TCRA focuses on the western part of the state, while their Nashville chapter services central TN; however, since TN is over 400 miles long, they hope to establish an eastern chapter in the near future.
In July 2013, Michael Bradshaw, VP of Operations at K&M Collision in Hickory, NC, was victorious in his court-ordered arbitration against Nationwide for a short-pay lawsuit filed on behalf of a body shop customer. The underpayments were determined to be reasonable and necessary repair costs, but the problem continues as Bradshaw notes that this issue is quite common with several specific insurers, including Nationwide and GEICO.
Currently, Bradshaw is pursuing six short-pay cases against Nationwide, three against GEICO, and one against All-State. Still, his pursuit of full payment has not impacted these insurers’ practices. Bradshaw notes, “they come out and refuse to pay for the same things they just lost. Their attitude is ‘sue us again,’ and I do.”
On a positive note, Bradshaw says that some other insurers who are aware of his short-pay cases have "chosen to do the right thing and pay the full repair bill because they know they'll get tied up in the same litigation if they don't."
In Bradshaw's July victory against Nationwide, the insurer’s short-pays included: labor rates ($48 Body & Refinish, $80 Mechanical and $65 Frame), procedures (i.e. sand and buff, final detail, road test, color tint and collision access time), invoiced paint & materials, sublet markup, fixture usage and a $250 Damage Analysis fee which included a comprehensive part by part inspection of all components including: exterior panels, inner structure, mechanical components and SRS and seat belt systems. The award also included storage charges at a rate of $50 per day for the total amount of $2,506.98 plus accrued interest until the insurer’s full payment is made.
Throughout the years, body shops owners all over the country have run for political office and instituted changes at the local and national level. People have said that the skills accumulated while running a body shop can easily transfer into politics. By negotiating on a daily basis with insurance companies, coordinating literally thousands of details monthly and working with a crew consisting of a wide range of distinct personalities, collision professionals are well-suited for public office, according to Doug Conner, the owner of Conner Bros. Collision Centers in Richmond, VA., an MSO consisting of four locations.
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Conner, 69, started painting cars when he was 17, working for local car dealerships for roughly 15 years before starting his very own shop in 1976, with the help of his wife Jean and his brother Donnie, another painter. “I worked for another shop to learn the business and then got the nerve to start my own,” Conner chuckled. “We signed a three-year lease and were just hoping to get some cars in here at the beginning. During the first six months, we didn’t know if we were coming or going, to be honest. Our original location was 3,000 square feet. It was a long building, so if we parked them side-by-side, we could maybe get a total of six cars in the shop at one time. But, eventually, we saved about $10,000 and purchased some land close to our original shop. After our lease expired, we built our first shop. We never needed to borrow any money, which was very fortunate.”
Today Conner is semi-retired with his two sons Kevin and Alan running his shops, after serving two terms as a councilman of the ninth district in Richmond, VA. He decided to run for the first time in 2004, when he began to see an alarming trend in local Richmond politics, he explained.
Dangerous vehicles that shouldn't even be on the road are being driven around with stolen inspection stickers in Ashland, VA.
Investigators say thieves are targeting area businesses, looking to steal the stickers in bulk.
Kay Patrick's spending way too much time and money making repairs, not to the cars in his body shop, but rather to his business itself.
Read more HERE
Automotive Service and Technology Expo: Networking and Training Was Last Weekend of September in Cary, NCWritten by staff
During the last weekend of September, September 27-29, the Independent Garage Owners of North Carolina (IGONC) are hosting their Automotive Service and Technology Expo (ASTE) at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Convention Center in Cary, NC. Their website boasts this event as the “largest automotive aftermarket event in the Carolinas.”
According to IGONC President, John Hill, the event, previously the IGONC Expo, was dissociated from the association five years ago to appeal to a wider audience by renaming it ASTE. Typically, between 400 to 600 shops register to visit the 50+ vendors on the exposition floor.
Hill notes that the most important benefit of the exposition is the opportunity for networking; “attendees are able to learn from one another’s experiences as people open up and are willing to discuss their business. They develop relationships, all while receiving afford, worthwhile training that they can take back to their shop and benefit their jobs.”
The three days of automotive training will include 25 management and training sessions, featuring some of the nation’s top trainers delivering the most current information in the collision repair industry. Speakers include Gary Gunn, Danny Sanchez, Scott Brown, Bob Beckmann, Joe Knight, Alvin Tyson and Sam Strickland.
The seminars cover all aspects of the collision repair industry, from budgeting and marketing to customer service, modern technology and even diagnostics. Saturday night, an awards banquet will be held at 6:30 pm, followed by a casino night beginning at 9 pm.
Those interested in registering can visit http://www.asteshow.com/ where the registration form is located. Attendees can register for one day or the entire weekend.
IGONC was established in 1959 and has since grown to include 560 members statewide. They have nine active chapters across NC, and each holds monthly meetings.
PO Box 90426
Raleigh, NC 27675
Arguably, the most important roles of collision industry associations is to advocate for its members rights and keep members educated on and informed of changes, both potential and real, in the industry. The Georgia Collision Industry Association (GCIA) agrees with this philosophy which is why they focus much of their efforts on hosting meetings and events to provide members with current information that may impact their businesses. This fall, they plan to be quite busy with their upcoming meeting, annual golf tournament and First Responder Emergency Extrication Program.
Executive Director, Howard Batchelor, explains their goals: “we want to educate members on the new products and information available in the industry, in hopes of helping them improve their businesses.” Each GCIA meeting is broken into various segments to focus on specific issues.
One of the association’s main focuses is to be their members’ voice when it comes to legislative issues. Currently, GCIA is interested in Mississippi’s recent lawsuit against PartsTrader and shop owners’ right to purchase parts from the supplier of their choice. They are also trying to put together a class-action lawsuit for shortpays with the goal of helping shops get compensated for the things insurers refuse to pay for, causing shop owners to complete these items at their own expense.
GCIA will hold their next meeting on September 19, from 6:30 to 9 pm. The meeting will include a catered dinner for members. They also plan to meet in January 2014 when Jake Rodenrot of AES Modules is scheduled to present on the company’s new code reader. GCIA brings the value of education to its members, and Batchelor emphasizes the importance of such information.
“Vehicles are becoming increasingly high-tech, so repairers need the tools and education to fix these vehicles properly.” Batchelor also notes that, in conjunction with educating shops on the newest technology and products, GCIA also focuses on educating the consumer; however, because it is a non-profit organization, GCIA relies solely on the funds gathered from members and raised through their various events.
One such event is their 17th annual golf tournament which will be held on Wednesday, October 2 from 11am to 5pm at the Trophy Club of Atlanta in Alpharetta, GA. Registration costs $75 per person and includes lunch, dinner and a chance at over $1000 in door prizes. The golf tournament usually attracts around 80 attendees, but Batchelor hopes to see an increase this year since the proceeds from this year’s event will be donated to two local collision repair schools. This is significant because, according to Batchelor, “the children in these programs are the future of our industry, so we want to ensure that they are provided with the tools, equipment and training necessary for success.”
GCIA’s belief in the importance of education is also why they support and promote their member, Sports & Import Collision Center, who is hosting a First Responder Emergency Extrication Program on October 8 from 9am to 1pm at their facility in Dulith, GA. Though this year’s program will be smaller than in the past, it is being co-hosted by the National Auto Body Council, and Batchelor is confident that much useful information will be disseminated through the program.