Tuesday, 31 January 2012 22:46

GM to Build Stamping Plant in Arlington, TX

General Motors announced Jan. 31 that it will start construction within the month on a $200 million stamping plant in Arlington, Texas, creating about 180 jobs. Some of the jobs will be relocated from GM's Parma Metal Center in Ohio.

The plant will be part of the company’s Arlington manufacturing complex, adjacent to the facility that makes the company's full-sized sport utility vehicles, and is scheduled to start production in 2013. It will produce large stamping components for the next generation of Chevrolet Tahoes, Suburbans, GMC Yukons and Cadillac Escalades.

The company has noted that it is inefficient to make parts in Ohio and Michigan and ship them across the country to Texas. In addition to higher transportation costs, parts can get damaged during the long trip, lowering the quality of finished SUVs.

GM plans to add 180 jobs in Texas when the new stamping facility is finished next year. The Arlington plant now employs about 2,500. When the new stamping plant opens, it will take over fabrication of some parts now made at the company's Parma Metal Center.

Last May, GM said it would invest $331 million in the Texas assembly plant for expansion and to purchase tooling and equipment. GM says it has committed more than $6.9 billion of investments to upgrade or expand operation in 12 states since June 2009, creating or retaining more than 17,600 jobs.

GM spokeswoman Kim Carpenter said that won't mean any job losses in Parma. GM is increasing production at several plants in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana over the next few years, and there should be plenty of work for its larger stamping plants, she said.

"Parma stamping will continue making parts for other GM facilities," Carpenter said. "The Arlington announcement is adding capacity to the entire GM system."

Joe Ashton, vice president of the UAW representing the GM department, said in a statement that the announcement was further evidence that the U.S. auto industry is recovering.

“An important goal for the UAW is to increase the number of manufacturing jobs in the United States, and we are pleased that General Motors has decided to make this investment in Arlington,” he said in the statement.



The Inland Empire chapter of the California Autobody Association (CAA) held a Tech education and appreciation night on January 25th at the Spaghetti Factory in Rancho Cucamonga.

This was the first meeting of 2012 for the Inland Empire chapter, and new President Tim Brown from Auto Center Auto Body in San Bernardino was on hand to introduce the night's speaker.

The meeting's speaker was Tom McGee, the Collision Industry Relations Manager for ALLDATA. Tom spoke about ALLDATA S3500, the company's updated software version. This is a newer platform that is easier to navigate. Tom also guided attendees through the repair procedures and symbols to help ensure that techs have a better understanding of the procedures outlined by a vehicle manufacturer to perform a proper repair.

The event had 60 people in attendance and 13 were technicians. Very generous associate members of the CAA donated prizes to be raffled off to technicians only, and all 13 in attendance went home with some great prizes.

Also each Tech who accompanied an Owner or Manager to the event received a complimentary meal.

For more information about the next Inland Empire meeting please contact Cindy Shillito the Southern CA CAA Rep at 714-944-4028.

Published in WESTERN NEWS

The Automotive Service Councils of California (ASCCA) and California/Nevada/Arizona Automotive Wholesalers’ Association (CAWA) are hosting the third annual Aftermarket Summit on February 18, 2012, in Sacramento. The summit continues to grow, and the two organizations expect to attract participants representing both independent repair facilities and aftermarket parts and manufacturers and distributors. 

Issues to be discussed include:

•    Strength in industry unity;
•    Sharing legislative agendas;
•    AWDA’s work on warranties and labor claim form – best practices;
•    Industry training: what’s available; how to encourage participation; scholarship giving;
•    What is the image the industry wants to project; what attracts people to enter the industry; incentives;
•    The industry is transforming, particularly technologically, in the conduct of business between suppliers and customers.

Tracy Renee, 2012 ASCCA President, noted the following about the summit, “The rate of technological changes in our industry, and environmental influences, as well as legislative and regulatory impacts, will continue to grow exponentially. The outcome of these factors will shape our individual and collective futures as well as the industry. Together we must reflect that growth to be effective in protecting our interests and having our collective voices heard, respected, and acted upon.”

Steve Sharp, Chair of CAWA’s Board of Directors, stated, “As manufacturers, distributors and retailers, we find it informative and valuable to have thought-provoking discussions with the repair segment of our industry. These discussions strengthen our respective businesses and builds unity throughout the aftermarket distribution channel.”

For additional information regarding the summit, please contact CAWA CEO Rodney Pierini, at 800.332.2292, ext. 1; or ASCCA Executive Director Jackie Miller, at 800.810.4272; 916.924.9054.

Published in WESTERN NEWS

The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America’s (PCI) said auto body legislation would be one of its key priorities for 2012. PCI said it anticipates the major auto body repair and glass issues for 2012 will involve aftermarket parts, labor rates, steering and estimating systems. To help control costs and promote customer service, PCI said it will oppose legislative efforts that would restrict insurers’ ability to make recommendations or suggestions to consumers on individual repair facilities or that would impede insurers’ ability to manage the claim repair process and control costs on behalf of consumers.

“PCI is committed to advancing a pro- consumer agenda that supports healthy, competitive insurance markets across the nation,” said Paul Blume, senior vice president of state government relations for PCI.

“In these tough economic times consumers are best served by measures that address the cost drivers of insurance and provide individuals with choices. Our agenda will also help modernize state regulatory environments and improve insurance marketplaces.”

In addition to auto body legislation, other priorities include protecting and promoting the viability of a competitive private insurance market, curbing fraud and abuse in several no- fault auto insurance systems, addressing auto body repair and coastal property insurance issues, as well as advancing cost containment measures in state workers compensation systems. In addition, PCI anticipates credit-based insurance scoring and tort reform to once again be legislative issues during 2012.

PCI said it made significant progress at the state, federal, and international levels last year on many issues, despite facing an anemic economy, increasing political and regulatory pressures, and historic natural disasters. Looking forward to 2012, PCI said it anticipates facing many of these issues again, with the additional challenge of advancing its advocacy agenda during a watershed presidential election year.

Published in Insurance Actions

Insurer representatives' reaction to the California Department of Insurance (CDI) Jan 25 meeting to discuss proposed labor rate survey and steering regulations has been critical of pro-shop benefits, saying "these regulations would merely benefit vendors, like auto repair shops."

The Association of California Insurance Companies (ACIC) says proposed labor rate survey regulations create new standards on how insurers conduct surveys, which could increase costs for auto repairs.  See related articles HERE.

CDI’s proposed steering regulations could also inhibit insurers from informing policyholders where they can obtain repair estimates.  ACIC testified in opposition to these proposed regulations during the workshop in Sacramento, California.  In its testimony, ACIC requested that CDI provide information on its rationale for considering this regulation.  ACIC specifically requested how many and the types of consumer complaints CDI has received related to this regulation.

“Absent this consumer data from CDI, we don’t understand how the regulations benefit consumers,” said Armand Feliciano, ACIC vice president.  “It appears these regulations would merely benefit vendors, like auto body repair shops.  Given California’s shaky economy, now is not the time to propose laws that could increase the cost of auto repairs.”

“CDI is attempting to legislate through the regulatory process with these proposed labor rate survey and steering regulations,” said Feliciano.  “Regulations must have statutory authority granted by the Legislature for them to be valid; CDI does not have legislative authority to make these policy changes.”

Under current law, labor rate surveys are voluntary in California.  Some insurers conduct these surveys to determine how much auto body shops are charging for labor in a certain area.  This helps insurers to predict repair costs and establish premium levels.  Current law also prohibits insurers from telling policyholders to go to specific repair shops.  Policyholders have the choice to take their car to any shop they choose.

“Any major policy changes like what CDI is contemplating should be considered through the legislative process,” said Feliciano.

About the ACIC:

The Association of California Insurance Companies (ACIC) is an affiliate of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) and represents more than 300 property/casualty insurance companies doing business in California. ACIC member companies write 41.8 percent of the property/casualty insurance in California, including 57.3 percent of personal auto insurance, 45.7 percent of commercial automobile insurance, 40 percent of homeowners insurance, 32.5 percent of business insurance and 43.4 percent of the private workers compensation insurance.  PCI is composed of more than 1,000 member companies, representing the broadest cross-section of insurers of any national trade association.

Published in WESTERN NEWS

Proposed additions to the current text of regulations are in bold text and proposed deletions to the current text of regulations are indicated in strike-through text.

Title 10, Chapter 5, Subchapter 9, Article 7

Amend section 2698.91 as follows: Section 2698.91

Auto Body Repair Labor Rate Surveys
(a) Section 758(c) of the Insurance Code provides that any insurer that conducts an auto body repair labor rate survey to determine and set a specified prevailing auto body rate in a specific geographic area shall report the results of that survey to the department which shall make the information available upon request. The survey information shall include the names and addresses of the auto body repair shops and the total number of shops surveyed. Section 790.03(h) of the California Insurance Code enumerates sixteen claims settlement practices that, when either knowingly committed on a single occasion, or performed with such frequency as to indicate a general business practice, are considered to be unfair claims settlement practices and are, thus, prohibited. The practices prohibited include failing to the attempt in good faith to effectuate prompt, fair, and equitable settlements of claims Section 790.10 of the California Insurance Code provides that the commissioner shall, from time to time as conditions warrant, after notice and public· hearing, promulgate reasonable rules and regulations, and amendments and additions thereto, as are necessary to administer this article 6.5 (Unfair Practices). The Insurance Commissioner has promulgated these regulations in order to accomplish the following objectives:

Published in WESTERN NEWS

Beginning with the 2009 model year Ford F-150, the cab body mount bolts are secured with a cage nut. The cage nut is held in position inside a cage nut retainer that is attached to the inside of a floor crossmember.

To view a PDF of this article please click HERE.

The crossmember is attached to the underside of the floor pan, which creates an enclosure for the cage nut. The retainer has two nut retaining tabs, one on each opposing side of the nut that are folded against the nut to hold it in place (see Figure 1).

In some instances, the cage nut may spin when attempting to remove or install a body mount bolt. If the nut spins, it will have to be accessed and secured in order to complete the bolt removal and the installation process.
Accessing the Cage Nut
Accessing the cage nut will require drilling a hole from the top of the floor pan at the cage nut location. Be careful not to drill into the cage nut retainer. Ford service information specifies using a 50 mm (2") hole saw for this procedure (see Video at www.i-car.com).

Accessing the drilling locations on the floor pan will require removing certain parts, and pulling back the carpeting. Depending on the cab style, parts that may require removal include the scuff plate trim panel, console, and seats.

Published in Tech Notes

A report at the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) on the findings of a study into what consensus exists within the industry about the development and implementation of formalized repair standards led to as much discussion about the value and validity of the study as it did to discussion of standards themselves.

To view a PDF of this article please click HERE.

“I do believe this has set us backward instead of forward,” Dusty Womble of Roger Beasley Collision Center in Austin, Texas, said of the study. “I’m sorry, but honestly, I don’t see any value in the research that has been done.”

But Massachusetts shop owner Chuck Sulkala—who has not participated on the committee that organized the study but was one of those interviewed by the consultant conducting the research—said some at CIC were incorrectly presuming that the committee was trying to make more of the report than it was.

“Some of the conversations here are getting us down into the weeds right now when I don’t think we’ve even gotten in the boat yet,” Sulkala said. “We’re still looking to see where the boat and lake is, to see what’s going on rather than trying to catch fish. I think we’re still in the very beginning stages.”

Published in John Yoswick

This month’s distinctive dealer is South Motors Automotive Group in Miami, Florida. This dealer services Honda, BMW, VW, Suzuki, Mazda, Mini, and Infiniti. Parts manager Mike Franceschi contacted me after reading my article on “Apathy, the Real Opponent in the Wholesale Business.”

To view a PDF of this article please click HERE.

For a link to the article see the last paragraph or just go to autobodynews.com and search ‘apathy’ What I wrote in that article was:

“Now is the time to be positive. Shake off that dull, negative attitude. Aggressive solicitation of new customers will pay off for those dealers that move now. Take some time and visit your best customers. Congratulate them for their tenacity and tell them you will be with them for the good times ahead. Partners who survive hard times always find their bonds stronger. Keep an eye out for customer opportunities that you may have overlooked. Be ready to serve the new customers that will be calling you.
“There is another major negative assumption to overcome. Several parts managers have told me of their loss of interest in the wholesale market. The main reason for this is the lack of profit. It seems that there is constant pressure to reduce costs, starting at the corporate level. I am talking about the insurance companies that cover most of today’s repair costs. In a never-ending search for investor earnings, quality, care, workmanship, and pride are considered to be unnecessary. The only thing that matters to these corporations is their bottom line. They constantly push the repair shop to reduce the cost of the repairs. The shops cannot reduce their labor cost any lower; employees are already at the poverty level. The only place to cut is the cost of materials. The solution for some shops is the use of cheaper parts. These shops adopt the practices of the corporations, and consider only the cost of materials. Save a dollar, no matter what method you use.
“We need to fight back! Quality in both parts and service needs to be worth more than a 5% discount. For example, sheet metal has been a center of concern for several years. Cheap replacement imported metal has found customers, at the cost of quality. Numerous organizations have come out to support the use of original parts only. We all agree on the value of quality in this area. How about the rest of the operation? How about quality of service?
“I have never advocated sacrificing service and quality for cost. I believe if you pay less, you get less. There is a minimum everyone must pay for quality service. The competition should be for better service, not cheaper prices. I believe that servicing the wholesale market is still a rewarding job. Our final goal, happy customers, is a worthy goal and customer satisfaction brings us our own happiness.”

Published in Williams, Larry
Thursday, 26 January 2012 21:16

Check Engine Light Paranoia

Charlie comes in every now and then.  I guess you could say he’s a regular but I think I would call him more of an opportunist when it comes to his car repairs. He’ll go to an oil change place for oil changes, a tire shop for tires, a transmission shop for transmission, so on and so on. If there is an opportunity to get his car into a shop he’ll make an appointment and get it in. But, the one thing he seems to always use me for is the check engine light.

To view a PDF of this article please click HERE.

Normally, most people don’t pay that much attention to the check engine light unless it’s staying on. Not Charlie, he’s absolutely paranoid it will come on and stay on.

Somehow, some way somebody has told him that the check engine light is not a warning of a  problem with the exhaust emissions or related engine/transmission problems but the precursor to a ticking bomb that will bring an end to his ride of rides. It’s as if the check engine light is the trigger to the doom and gloom of his car.

At times, Charlie thinks the check engine light has stayed on a longer than it should when he starts it up in the morning. This prompts an immediate phone call and a trip to the repair shop. With all these trips he’s seen me use several different code readers, scanners, O-scopes, and laptops that I have at my disposal to check codes and related engine systems.

Published in Gonzo Weaver

Alan Taylor from Motor Trend Radio called me last fall to say he had partnered up with eBay Motors to ‘personalize’ a 2012 5.0L Mustang donated by Galpin Ford, and auction it during SEMA 2011. He wanted to put a team together to take the car from “stock to extreme,” but still street legal. I was in.

To view a PDF of this article please click HERE.

They also wanted to do a video-for-the-web program about personalizing the car from start to finish.  The program is called modJOBS, and you can go to eBay Motors and  watch our 6–8 minute episodes at cc.ebay.com/ mod-jobs. It’s narrated by Alan and Dennis Pittsenbarger from Hot Rod Magazine Live. (I come in on episode #3, Sweet and Low.) So modJOBS makes it fun, everybody gets to team up and you get to follow along by watching the episodes of how to build a vehicle and how to add accessories and what’s available out there for these new vehicles.

Alan said the car would be auctioned on Ebay and the proceeds would go to a charity called Patriot Outreach (www.patriotoutreach.org) to contribute to treating PTSD. The ultimate team would include Vick Edelbrock, Jr.  (supercharged engine); Revo Reeves (interior), Ryan ‘Ryno’ Templeton (paint), and me (modified design and fabrication).

I love building cars and was happy to put time and effort to benefit the people that have served our country and are the real heroes. They go over and risk or sacrifice their lives to make better lives for us. Here was a chance to give something back.

So we started off with Galpin’s 2012 5.0L Mustang with the goal of putting some more personality behind it to represent the men and women that serve our country and provide some benefits when they get back from serving.

Published in Rich Evans

It all began 20 years ago as a knee-jerk reaction to a bad experience with a parking meter maid, but today it has been lauded as a successful social experiment while evolving into a highly effective viral marketing endeavor. The G & C Meter Beaters are a Santa Rosa, California, based creation of Gene Crozat, the owner of G & C Auto Body, with seven locations in the Northern Bay Area, with an eighth opening in June.

To view a PDF of this article please click HERE.

During the 10 days right before Christmas, the G & C Meter Beaters save drivers from getting parking penalties by feeding their meters before the City of Santa Rosa’s parking enforcement officers are able to nail them with a $33 parking ticket. It’s a program that Crozat began when he was upset over what he felt was an unfair parking ticket he received two decades ago.

“I was rushing back to my car after shopping and the meter maid was sitting there waiting for the meter to expire,” Crozat said. “She saw me coming, but she gave me the ticket anyway. I was really mad, so I went to the bank and got a bunch of quarters. I told my kids—get out there and put money in all these meters before they expire. That’ll show ‘em.”

But brilliant ideas don’t always gain traction overnight and the Meter Beaters were a prime example. To say that the powers-that-be in Santa Rosa weren’t enamored with Crozat’s idea was a major understatement. “They threatened my kids and told them ‘your daddy is going to jail’, ” Crozat explained. “They didn’t like the fact that we were stopping people from getting parking tickets and said we were interfering with their operation. The media flocked to the story and pretty soon the city backed off.”

Published in WESTERN NEWS

Would you step up and be a hero if you were in an emergency situation with little time to think? Many of us have asked ourselves this same question, but few ever get the opportunity to find out.

To view a PDF of this article please click HERE.

James Bray, a parts manager at Fix Auto Portland East in Oregon was tested in a big way when he was called upon to pull a man out of a burning car and save his life.
If Bray ever had any doubts about his courage or his ability to act heroically, they were all answered  at 2 a.m. on December 3. In a highly stressful situation requiring quick thinking and quicker action, Bray was able to think fast and take lifesaving action. That early morning a BMW hit a utility pole right in front of Bray’s house in Vancouver, Washington. Normally, Bray would have been asleep, but luckily for the driver, he was still awake, playing computer games.

Sounds in the night are mostly weather or animal-related in Vancouver, but this one caught Bray’s attention immediately. “It was a very deep pop sound and I had no idea what it might be. So, I went to the window in the living room and that’s when I saw the car wrapped around the light pole.”

Published in WESTERN NEWS

From the moment I came across the Body Shop of Athens’ online, I could tell there was something special about this shop. Their offer of insider tips, latest news updates and the detailed description of the repair process hinted at a shop dedicated to educating the customer and keeping current in the industry, but I had no idea how dedicated owners Carl and Carla Colquett also were to their Georgia community and the environment.

To view a PDF of this article please click HERE.

In November 2008, the Body Shop of Athens in Athens, GA, was the first in their market to convert to a waterborne paint system. They also recycle all paper, plastic, cardboard and metal materials, providing recycle containers for each employee, and they have three separate dumpsters to accommodate their efforts, including one that is made of recycled materials itself. The Body Shop of Athens volunteered to be the first shop inspected in their area for 6H compliance, and Carla sat on the EPA/EPD Stakeholders Federal 6H Rule Committee for the state of Georgia, representing the collision industry segment. Carl and Carla also support local green energy expos by hosting a booth to explain waterborne paint and recycling.

The shop shows its community efforts in many ways. In addition to sponsoring and donating to many organizations, such as Junior League of Athens, Athens Area Cancer Auxiliary and Business Network International, they also sponsor their local Boy Scouts and Food 2 Kids organizations. They participate in Toys for Tots as well and are in collaboration with the State Police for free child seat safety checks at their shop. They offer free meeting space in their conference rooms to the community, and they subsidize space for the International Office of Women to the World, where Carla also serves as a board member.

Published in Shop Showcase

A1 Grand Auto Body of Garden City Park, NY focuses on family oriented business onquality repairs. This emphasis on quality dates back to owner, Brian Hogan’s early interest in auto body repair. When customers hand their keys over to Hogan, he wants them to know and be confident that they are putting their vehicle in the hands of a man who has been working on cars for most of his life and whose passion for automobile restoration guarantees their car will leave the shop looking much better than when they drop it off.

To view a PDF of this article please click HERE.

When his staff is short-handed, Hogan is always eager and willing to pick up the tools to help restore his customers’ vehicles. His children are following in his footsteps as he did in his father’s. Hogan’s daughter, Ariel, works in the front office, and his son, Joseph, will begin working for his father later this year as part of a work-study BOCES program.

In fifth grade, Brian Hogan would take a bus to his father’s shop after school in order to sweep the floors and park cars. The ten-year-old found the job very exciting. A year later, he learned to sand body surfaces, and this was followed by his first real project.

At the age of thirteen, Brian Hogan purchased his first car, a Cutlass Supreme, for $50. He spent a lot of time on that car, ultimately changing the color three times. Hogan recalls, “I made it my perfect first car. That was my project car.” Since then, Hogan has owned hundreds of cars. One of his best memories is helping his son restore a 1999 Ford Mustang with front-end damage to the point that it won Best in Show at a competition in Commack, NY. He also rebuilt a Chevy Corvette and an early-model Mustang for the Fraternal Order of Police as touring vehicles for their anti-drug and anti-DWI campaigns, complete with custom paint jobs.

Published in Shop Showcase

The Elite Group Collision Centers is a group of eight collision centers in the Los Angeles, Orange County and Palm Springs area owned by Mike Salyards and Tim Mullahey.

To view a PDF of this article please click HERE.

Mike managed Cone Collision Center in Fullerton, CA, for 15 years when Tim bought the dealership Cone was connected to, Cone Chevrolet—later changed to Mullahey Chevrolet. Tim and Mike decided to go into partnership together starting with Cone Collision Center; and as they grew they branded their group of collision centers under the Elite Group Brand, but kept the collision centers’ original names due to their great reputations acquired over time.

Since going into partnership, Mike and Tim have bought seven reputable collision centers. Over the past 10 years they bought Crenshaw Collision Center in Los Angeles, Prestige Too Autobody in Torrance, America’s Collision Center in Orange, Harbor Collision and Signal Hill Auto Body were combined into Prestige Too Collision Center of Long Beach, and most recently, Firestone Auto Body in Downey.

5 months ago the group also went into partnership with Steve Vettel of Pacific Collision Centers on a location in Cathedral City. The group also has owned Central Coast Collision in Arroyo Grande for several years but only recently brought it under the Elite Group brand due to its distance from the rest of the locations. Central Coast is located near San Luis Obispo, CA.

Published in Shop Showcase

When the repair industry (later than most) finally moved into the 21st century and started writing estimates by computer, shops and insurance companies alike likened computerized estimating to the advent of the washing machine. Why a washing machine?

To view a PDF of this article please click HERE.

Some of you might be old enough to remember the days of washing your clothes by hand. Although I never had the pleasure, I recall my parents talking about the painstaking process of washing clothes in a bucket when they were kids. It was an arduous process that consumed a lot of your time if you did it right.

I did write estimates by hand and I can assure you that it too was a long painful process. What made handwritten estimates worse was having to go back and try to translate what you scribbled while clutching a clipboard.

If you are a member of Generation X or Y (or any other letter of the alphabet), you probably can’t relate to these old-man war stories. That said, I will try to offer a correlation you can appreciate. That’s what we’re supposed to do with the younger generation, right? Entertain them and cater to them and give them a ribbon just for participating even if they finished in last place. So for them: Handwritten estimates is like having to get up and change the channel on the TV because you can’t find the remote control.

Published in Insurance Insider

by Greg Horn, Vice President
Industry Relations Mitchell International

When we created the Mitchell Collision Parts Price Index (or MCPPI) a few years back, it was to serve as a barometer to measure parts inflation both in aggregate and split out by part type and vehicle country of origin. The MCPPI was created with the Consumer Price Index as its model as the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is best known to most Americans as the general rate of inflation.

To view a PDF of this article please click HERE.

The CPI is one of the most closely watched economic indicators because it tracks the rate of inflation for a wide sampling of goods we routinely buy. Just in the way the CPI measures a “basket” of goods and services and compares the prices month to month. This basket contains hundreds of different types of goods and services ranging from the inexpensive to very expensive.

In creating the Mitchell Collision Parts Price index, we used a similar approach of taking a collision ‘market basket. We selected the top 20 most replaced collision parts for the following categories: Hood, fenders, headlamps, turn signals and side marker lamps. We pulled data from 2003 through the third quarter of 2011. We then created weighted average prices for these parts in aggregate, setting the base year at 2003 and equal to 100. This allows us to compare inflationary trends by part type. All part types are retail prices, in the case of LKQ/used parts, are calculated with the mark up included in the pricing.”

Published in INDUSTRY NEWS
Thursday, 26 January 2012 20:53

Creating A Readable Advertising Piece

I recently received an advertising booklet in the mail. Most of the ads in the booklet were for local cleaners and various personal and home services. There was also one ad for a collision repair shop, but the shop was located many miles from my mail service where I received the booklet.

To view a PDF of this article please click HERE.

The shop owner had obviously been pressured into buying an ad that was being delivered far out of his effective neighborhood. And even worse than that, it was buried in a booklet that is mostly read by housewives looking for household deals at local businesses. The shop’s ad didn’t even have a coupon that might have gotten at least a couple of people to notice it. The odds of the shop getting a single job out of this ad were probably as remote as the chance of winning the Publisher’s Sweepstakes.

Unfortunately, even if this ad had appeared in a newspaper or other widely read publication, it was still unlikely to get many people reading it. There were several reasons for this. First of all, most of the print was too tiny for mature readers to read without a magnifying glass. In a space three and a half inches wide by one-inch deep, fifty-two words were crammed closely together. The shop owner had probably provided the advertiser with a list of services he wanted included in the ad. Ad sales people just want to sell the ad. They’re practically never professional ad design people, so they’ll cram anything into the ad the buyer says he wants.

There could have been more space for showing the shop’s many services if half the ad hadn’t consisted of a huge photo of a late model new car.

Published in Tom Franklin

Forty automotive professionals were recognized on November 16, 2011, at the Fall board meeting of the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) held at the Marriott City Center in Charlotte, NC.

The annual awards banquet spotlights top scorers on the ASE Certification Tests. Thirty different companies from both OEM and Aftermarket segments sponsored the individual technician recognition awards in the Auto, Truck, Collision and Parts categories, along with three instructor awards. In addition to looking for top scores on ASE tests, award sponsors examine on-the-job excellence, community service and other factors when selecting honorees.

This year’s celebration in Charlotte was enhanced by a visit from five former Team ASE drivers, who volunteered their time to sign autographs and meet the award winners in person. NASCAR drivers Kasey Kahne, Jason Leffler and Mike Bliss were joined by Ted Musgrave and Jimmy Spencer to help make the reception a memorable affair. In addition, there were two new award sponsors this year, one being the first ever from the military, representing the US Air Force.

“ASE has been honoring the best of the best in our industry for more than 30 years, and this year we recognized forty outstanding individuals from all across the nation,” said Tim Zilke, ASE President & CEO. “We couldn’t do this without the support of our many award sponsors, whose ranks include some of the best-known names in the industry. Their commitment to excellence is reflected in the talented individuals we recognize each year.”

Published in INDUSTRY NEWS
Wednesday, 25 January 2012 22:19

NY Dealers Add $25B to Economy, Report Says

Dealers’ success this year seems to be spurring economic recovery along, at least in the Empire State. According to the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association, franchised dealers in the New York metro area sold 403,000 new and used cars.

And as a result, their businesses injected $24.9 billion into the economy, while also providing nearly 56,000 Americans with jobs. Not a surprising number, when the study also showed that the average dealership employs 79 people.

These very same dealers also generated $1.71 billion in tax revenue to state and local governments last year

Commenting on these numbers, Mark Schienberg, president of GNYADA, said, “Our area’s auto dealers are an enormously important part of the local and state economy because of the revenue they generate and the jobs they produce.

“Directly and indirectly, greater New York’s franchised auto dealers provide nearly 56,000 jobs to area residents and are a key part of the region’s economic growth and development,” he added.

Moreover, the average dealership paid more than $4.1 million in payroll expenses. Besides providing jobs and selling cars, dealerships also pump money into the economy through advertising.

“An average dealer employs 79 people of which more than a third are in high paying jobs in the service department. Dealers also purchase more advertising than any other sector, providing a lifeline to many local broadcast, print and online media companies. Last year, area dealership advertising totaled $385 million,” said Schienberg.

The local economy also received another $253.6 million during the New York International Automobile Show. And nearly $24 million of this pot was formed by city-wide special events and public relations activities by OEMs, the organization noted.

“It {the report} includes a review of direct and indirect employment, personal income, tax collections generated by area automobile dealers and a review of dealership financial statistics and operations,” they continued.

Headquartered in Whitestone, N.Y., the GNYADA represents nearly 600 franchised automobile dealerships in the metro area of New York.


Federated member Hovis Auto & Truck Supply has opened its new Hovis Technical Training Center located at 1000 Champion Drive, Mercer, PA.

The 10,000 square-foot hands-on training facility is equipped with the most advanced tools and equipment and is dedicated to instructing professional service technicians about time-saving and problem-solving techniques. The center offers a fully equipped body shop with mixing rooms, prep deck and oversized paint booth, a 14-foot overhead door for heavy duty truck access as well as four-post and two-post lifts, a wirelessalignment machine, tire changer, balancer and diagnostic labs.

“The Hovis Technical Training Center is committed to educating automotive, paint and heavy duty truck technicians in a state-of-the-art facility, close to home, reducing shop downtime and travel expenses,” says Curt Hovis, vice president of Hovis Auto & Truck Supply. “We recognize the critical need to provide technicians with comprehensive instruction, technical materials and educational programs, and we understand they don’t want to travel across the country to get it. That is why we are bringing leaders in the industry to western Pennsylvania.”


The inter-high school automotive repair course for Wayne Hills and Wayne Valley High Schools in Wayne, NJ, won $10,000 in cash and supplies in the Why My High School Auto Shop Needs a Make-Over national contest at the end of January.

Students in the course created, edited and entered a video for the contest. Students from both high schools are enrolled in the course, the only one of its kind in the district where students from one school travel to another to attend class.

The video received 2,483 votes on Facebook, good for second place and only 118 votes more than the third-place winner.

The first-place school received 3,320 votes. More than 100 videos from schools across the country were submitted. Eight were named finalists.

The Universal Technical Institute Foundation (UTI), a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds to support technical education in the transportation industry, sponsored the contest.

The schools' program will receive $5,000 worth of products from Snap-On, a manufactured of automotive repair tools and equipment, vouches for tires from Bridgestone and Firestone, and cash as their second-place winnings.


Mitchell, a San-Diego-based provider of technology, connectivity and information solutions to the Property & Casualty claims and Collision Repair industries, announced the winner of Mitchell’s Get-a-Life Dream Vacation contest held in 2011.

Mitchell’s RepairCenter™ team presented Gabrielle Kephart of Wicklunds CARSTAR and Glass in Liberty, MO with a check totaling $5,000 in late December 2011, for an all expenses paid trip to Maui, Hawaii. RepairCenter is the industry’s first Shop Workspace™ solution that manages the repair, the customer, and the business, all from a single personalized workspace, helping body shops manage their businesses so well that they have time to “get a life.”

“Congratulations to Wicklunds CARSTAR for winning Mitchell’s Get-a-Life Dream Vacation,” said Jim O’Leary, Mitchell’s Vice President of Repair Solutions. “We are pleased to empower shop employees to ‘get a life’ by simplifying every aspect of complex auto collision repair business environments. Mitchell’s RepairCenter auto shop management software streamlines key repair processes to help body shops be more efficient.”

O’Leary added, “We believe that a trusted partnership―founded on listening, responsiveness and collaboration―is the cornerstone of Mitchell’s and our clients’ success, and we will continue building on the value we deliver to the collision repair industry.”

Published in INDUSTRY NEWS

The CA/NV/AZ Automotive Wholesalers Association (CAWA) announced their response to a letter of opposition to “imitation” or aftermarket crash parts legislation written by the Alliance of Automotive Manufacturers, CA New Car Dealers Association, California Autobody Association and Consumer Attorneys of CA to CA senators and assembly members on December 5.

The letter sent by these organizations to their senators and assembly members states; “The above-identified organizations and signatories write to inform you of their collective opposition to legislation that promotes non-OEM (original equipment manufacturer) crash parts as the functional equivalent of OEM parts. [Nonoriginal Equipment Manufacturer (Non-OEM) crash parts are parts made by a party other than the original car manufacturer without the dimensions, design specifications, tolerances or other information known to the original equipment manufacturer.]

“Existing law requires insurers that compel consumers to accept non-OEM parts when vehicles are repaired to inform consumers that “imitation” parts will be used and to warrant the “imitation” parts are “oflike kind, quality, safety, fit and performance” as OEM parts. For years, the insurance industry and off-shore, aftermarket parts industry have tried to weaken the law so they may compel unsuspecting consumers to accept inferior non-EOM parts.
“We support existing law and oppose efforts to weaken it for the following reasons:
● Existing law promotes disclosure and fair repair practices.
● Too many non-OEM parts are clearly inferior to OEM parts. For example, see the Bureau of Automotive Repair study on this issue. Also, Consumer Reports has debunked the argument that aftermarket “tin” parts are comparable to OEM parts.
● Use of non-OEM parts may impair warranties and reduce the value of used vehicles.
● Vehicles are increasingly complex, designed to dissipate crash energy by collapsing as engineered, and rely on multiple sensors to immediately deploy airbags upon contact. The use of “imitation” parts may impair these highly-integrated functions and endanger passengers.
“If approached to author legislation to unfairly promote the use of “imitation” crash parts, please contact us. We request the opportunity to discuss this important consumer protection issue with you before introduction.”

Published in WESTERN NEWS

The National Auto Body Council (NABC) held their annual golf event fundraiser on  January 11, 2012, at the Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort in Palm Springs, California. A total of 133 golfers registered for the scramble format. The event was able to raise $55,000 this year and was held in conjunction with the NABC’s open board meeting, which took place the previous day, January 10, as well as the Collision Industry Conference (CIC), which took place January 11, 12, 13.

The annual fundraising event plays an integral part in providing the resources that support the organization in its mission of improving the image of all dedicated collision industry professionals because it is a major source of funding for the group. Not only does it help NABC implement the programs and activities that define it and give shape to this purpose, it helps reduce the cost of NABC’s programs for participants, making them more affordable.

The fundraising committee comprised of current NABC board members worked together throughout last year in setting higher goals and expectations for this year’s golf fundraiser, success that translated into additional revenue. “Every sponsorship opportunity available was taken advantage of and every golf slot was filled equating to the higher revenue,” stated David Merrell, NABC golf committee chair.

Published in WESTERN NEWS

In a letter to ‘Certain Interested and Affected Parties’ the California DOI has taken a second step to address concerns of collision industry stakeholders. In November the DOI’s legal division hosted a meeting to discuss proposed revised aftermarket part regulations. The results of that discussion are under review by the department (see http://tiny.cc/ydvp6). Now the DOI, under Commissioner Dave Jones, is taking on the issue of Labor Rate Surveys, DRPs, and Steering. Departmental attorney, Teresa R. Campbell has organized a January 25th meeting (10–12:00 noon at the DOI in Sacramento, and has drafted contemplated revisions to the California Code of Regulations, impacting Direct Repair Programs and Labor Rate Surveys. Steering is also addressed in language concerning insurer recommendations of automobile repair dealers. Although welcoming input and discusssion, the ‘rulemaking file’ will not be opened until formal notice is given by DOI and that comments must be submitted during the formal public comment period.

The language (complete text follows) proposes that insurers shall report the results of any labor rate survey within 30 days to the department which will in turn make the results available. The survey information will include names and addresses of the auto body shops and the total number of shops surveyed. The 16 current unfair claims settlement practices detailed in Section 790.03(h) of the California Insurance Code will be prohibited, including ‘failing to the attempt in good faith to effectuate prompt, fair, and equitable settlements of claims’.

Following are selected quotes from the proposed language:

Published in WESTERN NEWS

For drivers in California, the risk of an auto accident is higher than many other parts of the country because California has more licensed drivers than any other state—more than 22 million drivers on the road. It’s no wonder then that there are close to 6,000 active shops in California, and more that do some custom or occasional repair work. While some also say California is also the hardest place to run a profitable shop due to legislative and othe factors, CARSTAR is looking for franchise opportunities in the golden state.

Last fall CARSTAR announced a new business development team, appointing Mark Behrens, Director of Network Development for California, and saying he would focus on expansion of the CARSTAR brand into California and adding new franchise partners to existing CARSTAR markets.

Now CARSTAR Auto Body Repair Experts has announced an agressive expansion effort in California to offer select body shop owners an opportunity to join North America’s largest MSO network with over 400 stores in the United States and Canada. As a member of CARSTAR, the company says franchisees can offer an array of services and products for collision repair, including the latest in repair technology, rental vehicles, nationwide warranties on repairs and turnkey service for their customers.

“There is a tremendous opportunity for body shop owners in the California marketplace, as the heavy traffic and enormous number of drivers create a constant need for quality collision repair,” said David Byers, CEO of CARSTAR Auto Body Repair Experts. “But it’s a competitive environment where store owners must meet strict environmental standards, manage insurance relationships and deliver high KPIs, drive sales and margin improvement on tight budgets and continually provide excellent auto body repairs. These store owners are looking for the business services and resources that only CARSTAR can provide, and we’re looking forward to adding a select group of these shop owners to the CARSTAR Nation.”

CARSTAR says that California shop owners who become CARSTAR franchisees will benefit from the CARSTAR Management Systems, which provide resources to improve key business metrics such as cycle time, participation in CARSTAR’s 17 corporately managed DRP programs and improved purchasing power from 44 corporately managed purchasing programs.

California shop owners who become CARSTAR franchisees will benefit from the CARSTAR Management Systems, which provide resources to improve key business metrics such as cycle time, participation in CARSTAR’s 17 corporately managed DRP programs, and improved purchasing power from 44 corporately managed purchasing programs.

California shop owners interested in learning more about opportunities with CARSTAR Auto Body Repair Experts can contact Keith McCrone, CARSTAR Director of Network Development–California, at (858) 859-1511.

Interested shops can also visit www.carstar.com for more information.

Published in WESTERN NEWS
Wednesday, 25 January 2012 22:02

ANPAC Responds to Texas DOI

Last month we reported that John Borek, General Manager of Autocraft Bodywerks in Austin, Texas, has filed a complaint with the Texas Department of Insurance against American National Property and Casualty Company (ANPAC) and a claims services company, American Claims Services, alleging that they “knowingly used a fraudulent document to justify their short-pay” of a claim.

In filing his complaint with the Texas DOI Property and Casualty Complaint Department, Borek wrote: “We believe that based on this document, ANPAC/ American Claim Service is knowingly using a fraudulent document to justify their short pay to limit the price paid for repairs to [the] automobile.  By not performing these necessary operations, it will result in an incomplete repair.  I have spoken today with the field appraiser assigned to this file and he confirmed that he put the needed repair operations on the original estimate  although a document generated from ANPAC/American Claim Service shows a zero by all these operations.

In a letter of response to the Texas Department of Insurance, ANPAC said an appraiser working on its behalf used “an outdated document” when denying a supplement for color sand and buff from Autocraft Bodywerks in Austin, Texas, and that the supplement has now been paid. John Borek of Autocraft filed a complaint with the regulator last month after receiving a document that the American Claims Services appraiser indicated was from Audatex showing that color sand and buff is included in refinish times.

In his complaint, Borek called the document “fraudulent” given that Audatex, after searching its “Database Reference Manuals” back to 1993, concluded that the document is “most certainly not from ADP/Audatex.”

After a call asking for an update or comment on the complaint, the Department of Insurance sent Borek a copy of ANPAC’s December 27 initial response letter, saying it will notify him “once we receive additional information that was requested.”

Wednesday, 25 January 2012 22:01

CARSTAR Expands in Texas With 3 New Stores

Recently, three of the country’s top independent auto body repair centers around the country have joined the CARSTAR Nation to provide their customers and community members even better service and support.

CARSTAR Auto Body Repair Experts are North America’s largest group of auto body repair experts with some 400 stores in the United States and Canada—and growing. As a member of CARSTAR, these new franchisees will offer a new array of services and products for collision repair, including the latest in repair technology, rental vehicles, national warranties on repairs, and turnkey service for their customers.

As part of CARSTAR’s commitment to customer service, CARSTAR can take care of the entire process of repairing the vehicle for the vehicle owner, from getting the vehicle towed to the facility to coordinating with the insurance company to restoring it to pre-accident condition.

The new CARSTAR franchisees will benefit from the CARSTAR Management Systems, which provide resources to improve key business metrics such as cycle time, participation in CARSTAR’s 17 corporately managed DRP programs, and improved purchasing power from 44 corporately managed purchasing programs.

The three newest stores in the CARSTAR Nation include:
● CARSTAR Collision King, Houston, Texas. Owned by Allen Suleiman, CARSTAR Collision King has been serving the Houston market for more than a decade.
● Auto Masters CARSTAR Collision, San Antonio, Texas
● Auto Masters CARSTAR Collision, Victoria, Texas. Owned by Daniel Baker, Auto Masters CARSTAR Collision is a multi shop owner that has been serving the San Antonio region for 36 years.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome these new members to the CARSTAR Nation and expand our presence in the Houston and San Antonio markets,” said David Byers, Chief Executive Officer of CARSTAR. “They all run great businesses and have strong histories of quality customer service.  We’re looking forward to building their business together, helping local car owners get back on the road with fast, reliable collision repairs, and giving back to the community at the same time.”


The Texas Independent Automotive Association (TIAA) held their monthly members meeting on January 19 at the Barn Door, 8400 N. New Braunfels Ave.  in San Antonio, TX.

The meeting was held at 6:30 p.m., starting with a networking period. Speaker Tom Hansis from the UTSA Small Business Development Center was this month’s speaker and he talked to the 50 or so attendees about how shops can benefit from mentoring services that UTSA offers to shops.

UTSA offers online training, workshops and business advising for San Antonio-based small businesses. For more information about the UTSA Small Business Development Center, please visit sasbdc.org.

The TIAA will hold their next meeting on February 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the County Line on I-10. The speaker will be from the State Comptrollers office.

For more information about this meeting and other upcoming events for the association please visit www.tiaa.net.


In keeping true to their motto, “Driving the Future for Women in Collision Repair,” the WIN Nominating Committee is now accepting applications for seats on the WIN Board.

The Board consists of various industry segments including but not limited to: shop owners, jobbers, suppliers, consultants, paint companies and insurance companies. Aside from the WIN annual Conference in May volunteer WIN Board members work together to foster an environment that encourages the education, recruitment, retention and networking of women in the collision repair industry.

“Within a short time, the Women’s Industry Network has grown in size, produced informative and motivational events, and become a recognized industry association through volunteer efforts, industry sponsorships and the enthusiasm of the WIN membership. WIN is all volunteer. Volunteering for the WIN Board is an outstanding opportunity to have a present and future influence on our industry. If you are motivated to “drive the future for women in collision repair, apply for the WIN Board.” said Denise Caspersen, of ASA, chair of the WIN Nominating Committee.

The deadline for applications is February 24, 2012. For application requirements and further details go
to womensindustrynetwork.com. Completed applications should be mailed or PDF copy emailed to WIN Nominating Committee; c/o ASA – Denise Caspersen; 8190 Precinct Line, Suite 100, Colleyville, Texas 76034. For further information please contact Denise Caspersen, phone: (817) 514-2906; email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

To find out how you can become involved and support WIN or for information on becoming a member or sponsor of WIN, please contact Victoria Jankowski at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or Jeanne Silver at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

WIN is also offering scholarships to female collision industry students, instructors and shop employees to attend its 2012 conference May 6-8 in Atlanta.

Scholarship applications must be submitted through mail by March 9. Visit womensindustrynetwork.com for additional details on scholarship requirements and the application mailing process.

Published in INDUSTRY NEWS

Upon State Farm’s October 10th, 2011 written denial to provide consideration for a plethora of recommended and necessary repair procedures and materials, Ray Gunder owner of the 44 year old Gunder’s Auto Center instructed his legal counsel, Attorney Brent Geohagan, to prepare the necessary steps to file a lawsuit against the nationwide insurer at the request of and authorization by his customer.

The lawsuit was prepared and filed on October 25th along with a Civil Remedy Notice (CRN) which was accepted by the courts on December 16th, 2011. State Farm’s legal counsel responded in a letter to Gunder’s Attorney dated January 19th, 2012 stating, in part, “at all times State Farm acted in good faith and fairly and honestly toward its insured, with due regard for its insured’s interest.”

Furthermore the correspondence states, in part,  “State Farm has decided to exercise its rights under Florida law to avoid unnecessary litigation. Accordingly, enclosed is a check made payable to you and Raymond Gunder in the amount of $1090.70—which is the amount demanded in the CRN, plus statutory interest. This amount is paid to ensure that any alleged violations are cured in accordance with the statute of Florida law and to preclude unnecessary litigation. Again, State Farm’s payment should not be construed as an admission of any wrongdoing or liability on the part of State  Farm who denies any liability, as well as the standing of Mr. Gunder to pursue any claims, but exercise of its right under Florida law to avoid protracted, vexatious litigation.”

On receiving the news from his attorney, Ray Gunder said, “I am elated that State Farm has chosen to step up and pay what was due our customer and that State Farm elected to settle rather than proceed with a long drawn-out and costly litigation. The word “vexation” means harassing; and/or annoying as if the settlement was settled merely as a nuisance claim. I’ve never once found where an insurer has ever overpaid a claim and they didn’t in this matter either.  They knew what they owed and why and that they would lose if it went in front of jury. They also knew, they would surely incur additional and significant legal costs and interest just as they have in the past. I don’t care what they say their motivation was as long as they pay us so we can pay our team-members for every drop of sweat they drop in the repair of our customer’s vehicles.”

“It will be interesting to see how the other three active lawsuits we have filed against State Farm on behalf of our customers turn out,” continued Gunder. “There are an additional 25 more in line behind those which are ripe to be filed for similar issues. We’ll just keep pounding that rock!”


Eddie Quintela, the shop owner from Delray Beach, FL, who wanted to know why GEICO was charging his customers a 10% deductible on their domestic OEM parts and other labor operations, regardless of fault, and in addition to regular deductible and/or applicable betterments, has been vindicated. Quintela was finally able to get GEICO to remove the deductible off one of his customer’s estimates.

Quintela, who owns Collision Concepts Inc., asked why GEICO was apparently assessing this fee in Palm Beach county but not in nearby Polk county; and why an insured driving a foreign made vehicle was not deducted 10% for OEM parts, but one driving a vehicle made in the United States was made to pay 10% extra for their parts. Other labor operations were defined as wet sand and buff and all clips and bolts. GEICO claimed it was customary in his market, while Quintela disagreed with proof from surveying other shops in the area. Collision Concepts is not a DRP for the insurer.

“Just want to say thank you to Geico for paying what is fair and reasonable to repair our mutual customer’s vehicle,” said Quintela, “It is a good start to what I hope is a new and improved relationship between Geico and all collision repair facilities.”

To view the full text of the email exchanges between Quintela and GEICO please see Autobody News January 2012 Edition or www.autobodynews.com, search ‘Quintela’.


ABRA Auto Body & Glass is forging ahead with its growth plans by announcing the opening of a full service collision center in Warner Robins, Georgia.

The newest state-of-the-art facility is located at 581 Carl Vinson Parkway in Warner Robins which is 90 miles southeast of Atlanta. The opening increases the total number of ABRA repair centers to 115 in 12 states.

Tim Adelmann, ABRA’s Executive Vice President of Business Development said, “This is an exciting time at ABRA. Our long-term growth plans are taking shape and we’re looking forward to serving the Warner Robins community. We built this repair center to make it convenient for vehicle owners and insurance partners to find a cutting-edge repair center in their neighborhood.”

The repair center is equipped with all the latest industry technology to maintain high standards and assure top quality repairs. Staff technicians have extensive experience and receive rigorous ongoing industry training.

Duane Rouse, ABRA’s Chief Executive Officer said, “Our increased presence in the Georgia market is part of the strategy to accelerate our national growth in 2012.”


Mike Causey, a sometime Autobody News columnist, announced his candidacy for North Carolina’s Commissioner of Insurance position in Greensboro in early January.  Causey chose Dare County to launch his campaign he said, “…to bring focus on the problem of insurance in the coastal counties. Premiums for household insurance, especially windstorm insurance, have skyrocketed in recent years in eastern North Carolina, worse yet in the coastal counties.”

Causey said he was urged by North Carolina Republican leaders to seek the office this year because of widespread and bipartisan criticism of how the State Office of Insurance has been administered.

Causey is also known as a consumer advocate and lobbyist for the Independent Auto Body Association (IABA) as well as  healthcare groups and Organic farming and Healthy Eating advocacy.

This will be Causey’s fourth attempt at the position, after losing in the general election in 1992, 1996 and 2000 to Democratic incumbent Jim Long.

Causey, a Greensboro native, will run under the Republican ticket. He currently serves as commissioner on the North Carolina Public Officers and Employees Liability Insurance Commission and is a member of the Guilford County Agricultural Advisory Board. Current Democratic Commissioner Wayne Goodwin is also seeking re-election.

In an interview in the Beaufort Observer, the interviewer expressed a “high level of frustration of residents of Beaufort County with the insurance business in our county. Many residents in Beaufort County experienced severe problems with insurance companies following Hurricane Irene and even more have experienced difficulty in obtaining satisfactory coverage at a reasonable price. We asked him what he proposed to do about those problems if elected.”

“One of the main reasons I’m running is that I want to help people who are having problems with insurance companies,” said Causey. “That would be one of my top priorities in building a “customer-oriented” Insurance Department. As for the problem of difficulty in getting reasonable coverage, particularly comprehensive homeowners’ and mobile homeowners’ policies, I would work with the Legislature to address that problem. One of the specific things I would want to look at is the idea of making every policy equally available across the state. That would broaden the risk pool and I think that is something we need to take a hard look at.” He added: “we need a more competitive insurance industry in North Carolina and that is another thing I would want to work on.”

Mike Causey is not to be confused with another Mike Causey, who is a senior correspondent for Federal News Radio. He covers federal employee pay and benefits issues and writes a daily column about these topics.

You can read our Mike Causey’s  columns at autobodynews.com/columnists/causey-mike.html.

Published in INDUSTRY NEWS

The GCIA held their first meeting of 2012 on January 19 at the MAADA Headquarters in Atlanta.

The meeting’s speaker was Dave Gruskos, President of Reliable Automotive Equipment, a New Jersey company that provides repair equipment along with training. Reliable Automotive Equipment’s intention is to support new technology and provide their customers with the correct resources to repair vehicles consistent with manufacturers approved methods and procedures.

Recently, Dave presented at a well-received course during the 2011 SCRS Repairer Driven Education at SEMA. Dave discussed the new repair procedure when working with Aluminum and high strength steel to the 50 or so attendees at the GCIA meeting.

One thing discussed during the GCIA meeting was that heat is the enemy to high strength steel. Some manufacturer’s do not want techs welding at all on these vehicles and have developed ways to rivet and apply adhesives to perform the repair. Dave also talked about self-piercing rivets and flow-form rivets that have to be punched out, not drilled. Then adhesives are used in conjunction with the rivets to create a solid repair.

The equipment and training investment needed to perform these repairs is well over $100,000, not to mention the expensive rivets and adhesives. Dave also reminded everyone to follow the OE recommended repair procedures when working with these vehicles and use OEM parts. Many times the warranties are voided if salvage or A/M parts are used.

Attendees were captivated by the part of Dave’s presentation concerning air bag reaction time. Air bag reaction timing is measured in milliseconds and the timing is critical to occupant safety. Dave had a couple of videos showing the effects of a slowed reaction in air bag timing. The results were shocking; the air bag actually deployed late, the occupant’s head (actually a melon) hit the steering wheel and then the air bag deployed. The melon absolutely exploded. If this would have been a real person, there would have been serious injuries or even death.

For more information about Dave and Reliable Automotive Equipment please visit www.raeservice.com.

In other news, the GCIA will be performing their 6th Annual GCIA Labor Rate survey beginning on March 5. CSi Complete will again perform the survey. This year the group will survey the rate for repairing high strength steels. Since there are different repair procedures and equipment that must be used, the group wants to know what shops are charging for this type of repair. Please visit gacollisionindustry.wordpress.com.


In a December 5 letter to California Senators and Assembly Members, representatives of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, The California New Car Dealers Association, the California Autobody Association, and Consumer Attorneys of California, voice their opposition to "Imitation" Aftermarket Crash Parts Legislation. The letter reads:

The above-identified organizations and signatories write to inform you of their collective opposition to legislation that promotes non-OEM (original equipment manufacturer) crash parts as the functional equivalent of OEM parts. [Nonoriginal Equipment Manufacturer (Non-OEM) crash parts are parts made by a party other than the original car manufacturer without the dimensions, design specifications, tolerances or other information known to the original equipment manufacturer.]

Existing law requires insurers that compel consumers to accept non-OEM parts when vehicles are repaired to inform consumers that "imitation" parts will be used and to warrant the "imitation" parts are "of like kind, quality, safety, fit and performance" as OEM parts. For years, the insurance industry and off-shore, aftermarket parts industry have tried to weaken the law so they may compel unsuspecting consumers to accept inferior non-OEM parts.

We support existing law and oppose efforts to weaken it for the following reasons: Existing law promotes disclosure and fair repair practices. Too many non-OEM parts are clearly inferior to OEM parts. For example, see the Bureau of Automotive Repair study on this issue.

Also, Consumer Reports has debunked the argument that aftermarket "tin" parts are comparable to OEM parts. Use of non-OEM parts may impair warranties and reduce the value of used vehicles.

Vehicles are increasingly complex, designed to dissipate crash energy by collapsing as engineered, and rely on multiple sensors to immediately deploy airbags upon contact. The use of "imitation" parts may impair these highly-integrated functions and endanger passengers.

If approached to author legislation to unfairly promote the use of "imitation" crash parts, please contact us. We request the opportunity to discuss this important consumer protection issue with you before introduction.

Curt Augustine, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers

Brian Maas, California New Car Dealers Association

David McClune, California Autobody Association

Nancy Peverini, Consumer Attorneys of California

Published in WESTERN NEWS

Mike Rose's Auto Body, a group of shops in the San Francisco Bay Area, announced the addition of their eighth location on January 17.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to open a shop in the City of Lafayette. We will be able to make it more convenient for our customers in the Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga and Rossmoor areas,” said Mike Rose, founder and owner of Mike Rose’s Auto Body.

This year marks the 40th year in business for the family-owned business operating in the East Bay.

The new facility is located in the heart of Lafayette at 3430 Mt. Diablo Blvd, Lafayette CA. The shop's hours are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.; the shop's Manager is Jason Laus.

The other seven facilities in the San Francisco Bay Area are located in, Walnut Creek (2), Concord (2), Pittsburg, Antioch, and Brentwood. The addition of the eighth facility will enhance the presence of Mike's Auto Body in the East Bay and enable Mike’s to bring complete convenience and flexibility to their customers and insurance partners.

Published in WESTERN NEWS

Erie Insurance, an I-CAR Gold Class Professionals® business, has equipped its staff of Auto Physical Damage Appraisers with the latest training available in the industry, providing them with the knowledge and skills needed to help increase CSI scores, improve operational efficiencies, and minimize repair mistakes.

I-CAR, the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair, has announced January 12 that Erie Insurance is now one of only five insurance organizations to have achieved the industry-recognized I-CAR Gold Class Professionals® designation as a corporation. Insurance businesses can earn the Gold Class designation at a corporate level, as Erie has, or at a business location.

John Van Alstyne, I-CAR CEO & President stated, “By achieving the Gold Class designation, Erie Insurance has shown a dedication to both customers and employees by investing in training that will provide valuable services. Through Erie’s commitment to I-CAR training, Erie Auto Physical Damage Appraisers now possess role-based knowledge that can improve estimating accuracy and help reduce cycle time, both of which lead to increased customer satisfaction.” Van Alstyne further added, “With the rapid rate of change in vehicle technology, continuous role-relevant training is essential. It is another key driver to customer satisfaction, and, ultimately business success.”

Jim Brown, Erie VP and Manager, Material Damage Department, said, “Erie Insurance is committed to delivering top notch service to our customers and is focused on providing our staff with the training and resources needed in today’s collision repair industry. By providing our customers with accurate estimates, we can improve claims accuracy, which will allow us to continue providing our policy holders that have been in automobile accidents with the best repair plan possible.”

Businesses that have earned the I-CAR Gold Class Professionals® business designation are required to achieve high levels of training as well as maintain ongoing annual training.

“I-CAR is pleased to designate Erie Insurance as a Gold Class business and provide the staff at Erie with a training path that will improve their overall operational efficiencies,” explained Joyce Kasmer, I-CAR Director of Business Development.

For more information please visit www.i-car.com.

Published in INDUSTRY NEWS

In a letter released December 20th, 2011, the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) provided commentary on an article written by USA Today contributing editor, Adam Belz, and entitled, Auto body shops say they, not insurers, should set costs.

The letter from SCRS counters points raised in the initial article, and provides information supporting the assertion that the property & casualty insurance industry's direct influence over collision repair market pricing, has impacted both the consumer and the small businesses that make up the collision repair industry. Several key components of the letter identify that:

- Property and casualty insurance carriers have become increasingly involved in activities that extend beyond the business of insurance, while interjecting themselves into collision repair business activities.

- The responsibility to compensate for fair and reasonable costs of the loss is significantly different than defining what is fair and reasonable.

- Average gross collision appraisal values have remained stagnant comparing the first and third quarters of 2009, 2010 and 2011, and older data indicates that the average appraisal value has remained flat for at least the last 7 to 8 years; meanwhile, consumer auto insurance premium costs continue to rise and the Insurance Information Institute recently reported that private auto insurance is the most profitable line of insurance coverage in the United States.

- The insurance industry's approach to establishing a singular prevailing labor rate charge for all businesses within a market fails to recognize the existence of reasonable variance between competitive businesses.

- When the repair shop has entered into both the DRP contract with the carrier, and an authorization to repair contract with the vehicle owner, it is not necessarily as simple as insurers "promoting poor quality work," but it becomes a question of who has more influence over the repair facility's decision making in the repair process, and whose interest drives those decisions.

In summary, the association states that, "the question is not IF insurance carriers directly impact collision repair market pricing, but rather IF their approach and purpose is appropriate. Are we really talking about saving consumer's money, or are we talking about increasing insurance company profits at the expense of their policyholders and the small businesses who serve them?"

For more information please visit www.scrs.com or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Published in INDUSTRY NEWS

Meguiar’s Inc., a 3M Company, has come to the aid of 676 secondary and post-secondary collision programs across the country by donating sets of their Unigrit Fine Grade Blending and Finishing Discs through the Collision Repair Education Foundation. The donation, in total equaling a retail value of $600,000, will ease collision department budgets by providing students the opportunity to work with up-to-date supplies. The gift from Meguiar’s helped the largest amount of schools in one donation in the Collision Repair Education Foundation’s history.

“Since 2008, 3M has provided over $2 million in product donations to the Collision Repair Education Foundation and these have greatly impacted instructor’s ability to properly instruct collision students,” stated Collision Repair Education Foundation Executive Director, Scott Kruger. “On behalf of collision students and instructors nationwide, we thank Meguiar’s and 3M for their continued support and invite additional collision industry businesses to follow 3M’s lead in providing product donations to secondary and post-secondary collision school programs.”

Northern Virginia Community College (Alexandria, VA) Collision Repair Instructor Geoffrey Brown said, “Thank you so much for Meguiar’s very generous donation. These sorts of donations really help our program by being able to expose our students to products and techniques that we could not afford to provide out of our limited budget. The students are already excited about being able to get to use them and are now looking forward to next semester where I am sure we will put them to good use. Thank you Meguiar’s!”

“Being able to assist in the development of our nations young professionals is an extremely gratifying feeling and one that our company is proud to be able to take part in” explains John Dillon, Global Vice President of Meguiar’s Professional and Marine Division. “We are excited at the ability of collision repair students that are supported by this foundation to have the opportunity to have first hand experience with our product and to learn the proper techniques to use them. It is a complete win-win opportunity for everyone involved.”

For additional information about 3M visit www.3m.com/automotive and to find out more about Meguiar’s Car Care Products visit www.meguiars.com

Industry members and companies interested in supporting secondary and post-secondary school’s collision programs through monetary and/or in-kind product donations should contact Associate Director of Development, Brandon Eckenrode at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 847-463-5244.

Published in INDUSTRY NEWS

The Allstate Corporation announced January 6 that the Superior Court of New Jersey has entered judgment in favor of Allstate New Jersey Insurance Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Allstate Insurance Company, and dismissed all claims in the franchise lawsuits filed against Allstate New Jersey.

Last year, three exclusive agents filed lawsuits seeking to prevent the termination of their agency agreements for failing to meet certain business objectives. They alleged they had franchise relationships with Allstate New Jersey and were protected under the New Jersey Franchise Practices Act. The plaintiffs' application to stop their termination was denied.

The court determined that the agents were not franchisees and have no protections under the New Jersey Franchise Practices Act. The court noted in its decision that the "insurance industry has never been found by any court in New Jersey, or elsewhere, to be home to an insurance company franchisor, or agent franchisee."

Allstate has maintained that exclusive agents are independent contractor agents and not franchisees. The court decision affirms the company's position.

Please visit www.allstate.com or call 1-800 Allstate® for more information.


Congressman Mike Kelly (R-PA) introduced into the House of Representatives on December 30 a bill aiming to do away with the $7,500 tax credit for electric vehicle car buyers, titled HR3768.

Kelly, who owns a Chevy Car Dealership in Butler, Penn., has served in the House representing the 3rd District of Pennsylvania since 2010.

The bill, formally titled: "To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the credit for plug-in electric drive vehicles", would amend the IRS code section related to the electric car purchase tax credit, to terminate the tax credit.

The $7,500 tax credit came into being in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA), whose main purpose was the bailout of the financial industry following the meltdown of Sept 2008. The credit was put in place by former President George W. Bush, and continued by President Barack Obama.

Kelly's personal experience as a dealership owner is suspected to have fueled his introduction of this bill. Kelly's dealership, which was founded by his father, was almost axed during the GM bankruptcy. When the Obama Administration Auto Task Force announced plans to shut down more than 1,900 dealerships, including Kelly's own dealership, his response was to fight the decision to close his dealership, in which he was successful.

Reports are that after avoiding shut-down Kelly's own car dealership took extra steps to shun the Chevy Volt, even going to far as to fire an employee who consented to GM's request that they bring in a Volt.

"I can stock a Chevy Cruze, which is about a $17,500 car and turns every 30 to 40 days out of inventory or I can have a Volt, which never turns and creates nothing for me on the lot except interest costs," said Kelly in October. "There is no market for this car."

Kelly echoes the main argument espoused by many anti-EV advocates—-that electric cars are simply toys for rich people. Kelly says that subsidizing the purchases of upper-income individuals is not the correct course of action to take during these difficult financial times. According to Kelly, the $7,500 credit goes to the "few who can actually afford to buy an electric car."


Ron Ertley, founder of Ertley MotorWorld in Wilkes-Barre, PA, and operater of Ertley Dealership in Moosic, PA, passed away January 7 from cancer at 79.

Ertley, founder, owner and CEO of Ertley MotorWorld was remembered as an innovator in the automobile sales business by co-workers and friends at a service held January 12 at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Wilkes-Barre, according to the Scranton Times-Tribune.

After graduating from Duke University in North Carolina and receiving an honorable discharge from the Air Force, Ertley returned to eastern Pennsylvania to manage an Oldsmobile dealership with his father. Ertley grew to own the dealership after his father's retirement.

In 1991 Ertley became the first in the area to combine dealerships--founding Ertley MotorWorld in 1991 with the help of his friend and colleague, J. David Power of JD Power and Associates. Ertley MotorWorld was a powerhouse in the eastern Pennsylvania area and was considered the area's first auto mall with 12 dealerships in one location.

"Main thing I remember is his innovation and willingness to try whatever the latest and greatest technology and techniques were to move forward in the automotive industry," Rick Osick, who worked with Mr. Ertley at MotorWorld, told the Scranton Times-Tribune. "He was known as an innovator as far as technology and methods to move a retail business along."

Ertley eventually sold Ertley MotorWorld to investors, and it still exists today, as MotorWorld.

Ertley remained in the auto dealership industry, opening a Chrylser-Jeep-Dodge-Kia dealership in Moosic.

As a member of the board of the JD Power Superdealer Rountable, a director of the Pennsylvania Automobile Association, a commissioner on the state Board of Transportation and the president of several other automobile dealer boards, Ertley was very active in the Pennsylvania automotive industry.


The San Diego chapter of the California Autobody Association (CAA) will hold their first meeting for 2012 on Tuesday, January 24 at Tom Ham's Lighthouse at 7 p.m.

The California Autobody Association’s (CAA) incoming President for 2012, Dave Picton of G & R Body Shop, Sacramento, will be presenting Dale Delmege of Chelsea Group, Inc., and DD Partners, Inc., with an honorary lifetime membership award in recognition for his dedication to the industry, the CAA, and members. Dale has donated countless hours educating CAA chapters and their members with his thought provoking presentations.

Dale is a founder and past director of the National Auto Body Council, and also a founder, past director and chairman of the Collision Industry Electronic Commerce Association. He was Chairman of CIC for 1999 and 2000, and was subsequently elected to the Collision Industry Hall of Eagles. In 2001 the Society of Collision Repair Specialists named Delmege a lifetime member, one of only two lifetime members who is not a shop owner.

The chapter will also be swearing-in new 2012 officers and conduct a round table discussion about industry related issues and new 2012 California laws.

Meet and Greet starts at 6:30pm, meeting starts promptly at 7:00pm.

Please RSVP before January 20 by contacting Hop Sanchez at 760-727-2392.

Published in WESTERN NEWS
Thursday, 12 January 2012 16:47

Nevada Texting While Driving Ban Takes Effect

Back in June, Nevada became the 34st state to ban texting while driving. Nevada also passed a law banning handheld cell-phone use while behind the wheel, although hands-free cell phone use (such as through Bluetooth) remained legal.

Officers began issuing warnings in October, although the law officially hit the books January 1, 2012.

Las Vegas police wasted no time in enforcing the state’s new ban on driving while texting or talking on a handheld device, according to Insurance Journal. Police Sgt. Peter Kisfalvi told the Las Vegas Sun that officers wrote more than 230 citations in the first week of the year.

Fines are $50 (first offense), then $100 (second) and then $250 (subsequent violations) now that the warning period is over.

Enforcement of the Nevada bans is primary, meaning drivers can be stopped and cited for that reason alone.

The bill behind the law, SB 140, was approved by Gov. Brian Sandoval, who had made it clear that he would support a statewide ban on text messaging while driving. The Assembly’s final vote came May 30, 2011, and the Senate signed off June 4.

Sen. Shirley Breeden, who authored the bill, added handheld cell phones to the 2011 version of the bill; her 2010 version failed to pass.

The Senate lowered fines to match the Assembly’s version in order to get the distracted driving bill through.

Published in WESTERN NEWS

Ford Motor Company announced on January 6 plans to create and open its first dedicated research lab in Silicon Valley early this year, further growing the company's commitment to make technology affordable for millions.

"Ford has an incredible heritage of driving innovation in the transportation and manufacturing sectors during the past 107 years," said Paul Mascarenas, Ford chief technical officer and vice president of Research and Innovation. "Now it's time to prepare for the next 100 years, ushering in a new era of collaboration and finding new partners to help us transform what it means to be an automaker."

Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally will elaborate on the new areas of focus for the forthcoming Silicon Valley lab, plus Ford's latest industry-leading technologies including SYNC®, EcoBoost™, MyKey® and inflatable rear safety belts, when he returns to the International CES on Jan. 11 for the Innovation Power Panel keynote. This will be Ford's fourth consecutive keynote presentation at CES.

Ford Research and Innovation, the company's advanced engineering arm, will open the new Silicon Valley lab in the first quarter, helping ensure Ford keeps pace with consumer trends and aggressively prepares for the future by developing mobility solutions to harness the power of seamless connectivity, cloud computing and clean technology.

Published in WESTERN NEWS

Boyd Group Income Fund announced December 21 that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Master Collision Repair, Inc., which owns a total of eight collision repair centers in the Tampa, Florida market area under the trade name Master Collision Repair. The acquisition is expected to be immediately beneficial to the Fund's earnings and cash flows.

"The acquisition of Master is very strategic as it gives us an industry-leading platform from which to grow in the attractive Florida market, further demonstrating our commitment to expanding our business," said Brock Bulbuck, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Boyd Group. "MCR's business model and customer base are similar to Boyd's, which should result in a smooth integration with our existing business. Further, we assess that there is a tremendous opportunity for accretive add-on growth in Florida, building from the foundation and base of MCR. The acquisition of Master also further solidifies Boyd's leading industry position and enhances our opportunity to capitalize on the trend of U.S. insurance companies consolidating Direct Repair Program volumes and showing increased preference for dealing with large multi-location operators. The Boyd Group, currently the largest multi- location collision repair operator in North America in terms of annual sales and number of locations, continues to look for opportunities to grow its operation. We remain focused on successful execution and integration of acquisitions to increase our profitability and drive value for our unitholders."

The transaction, valued at approximately $11.5 to 12.0 million subject to working capital adjustments, was completed on January 4, 2012. Funding for the transaction was completed through a combination of cash, third party financing and a seller note. The Fund will not be issuing any new equity to fund the transaction and, therefore, the transaction will not result in equity dilution to unitholders.

MCR is a leading provider of automotive collision repair services in the Tampa Bay area, a market in west central Florida. With eight operating locations and additional locations under consideration, MCR generated sales of approximately $20 million in the 12 months ended October 31, 2011. The Fund forecasts that MCR will add annual Earnings before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization of approximately $2.0 - $2.5 million to its consolidated EBITDA, including synergies. Upon completion of the acquisition, the Boyd Group will operate a total of 175 locations spanning 14 U.S. states and 4 Canadian provinces.

To view the Boyd Group's expected North American coverage after the acquisition of Master, please visit: http://www.boydgroup.com/i/maps/BoydGroupMap2011-Florida.jpg


The Van Tuyl Group, an Irving, Texas-based company with more than 70 automotive dealerships across the country, has announced the establishment of the first annual Charity Super Bowl flag football tournament in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The event will be held Saturday, February 4, 2012 at the Stampede Sports Complex in Southlake, Texas—the day before Super Bowl XLVI takes place in Indianapolis.

The Charity Super Bowl will be co-sponsored by the Van Tuyl Group, PPG, and Enterprise Rent-A-Car®. All proceeds are to benefit Trinity River Mission, a volunteer-based, community learning center dedicated to supporting the development of educational success in the children, youth, and families of West Dallas.

The day-long Charity Super Bowl will feature 30 4-on-4 teams competing in a double-elimination tournament. There is an entry fee of $350 per team, with each team allowed to carry a roster of up to eight players. An awards presentation will be held at the end of the day. In addition to enjoying the games, fans attending the Charity Super Bowl can win raffle prizes and participate in a silent auction.


Car-O-Liner®, a global provider of collision repair equipment to the automotive aftermarket, is pleased to announce participation in the Porsche Approved Collision Center Program as an official approved supplier of collision repair products. 

The Porsche Approved Collision Center Program provides a network of factory-authorized collision repair facilities; each trained and equipped to provide collision services that match the quality of Porsche automobiles. Assuring high standards of performance and quality requires skilled and trained professionals who adhere strictly to Porsche restoration procedures. Porsche Approved Collision Centers commit to these procedures, and to the use of genuine Porsche parts, materials, tools and equipment. Porsche Approved Collision Centers are also continuously supported and monitored by factory technical personnel.

“Car-O-Liner is pleased to be a part of the Porsche Approved Collision Center Program,” said Shawn Hart, Director of Technical Services for Car-O-Liner Company. “Adding Car-O-Liner to their approved equipment offering means greater flexibility without compromising accuracy. With our EVO system, technicians will be able to hold new components in place while making repairs, as well as measure the vehicle to find any hidden damage.”

As an OEM approved supplier, Car-O-Liner will offer quality products to meet the needs of over 60 collision centers across the U.S. and Canada.

About the Porsche Approved Collision Center Program  
Porsche Cars North America, Inc. (“PCNA”) and its authorized dealerships wish to enhance the pleasure of owning a Porsche through the provision of professional service throughout the ownership experience. In order to promote that goal, PCNA has developed the Porsche Approved Collision Center Program (“PACC Program”) to ensure that the “Porsche Perfect Ownership Experience” extends to customers who require the services of a repair center. The PACC Program seeks to ensure excellent service and high-quality repairs to all Porsche vehicles in need of collision services.  For more information regarding the PACC Program, please visit www.porschecollisioncenter.com.

Visit www.car-o-liner.com for more information.

Published in Product News

The issue of data ownership is of ever-increasing importance to both consumers and businesses as technology expands the landscape of digital trade, and the collision repair industry is not immune to concerns relative to ulterior use of business generated data. During the past several decades, the estimating and management system companies have increased their product offerings beyond core estimating and management functions for repair facilities. Their scope of services presently includes the collection, generalized aggregation, analysis, and sale or provision of repairer data to third parties.  Collision repairers contend that:

- The collection of data is unilaterally demanded as a point of sale requirement for every estimating system option offered in the market, barring repairers that wish to provide electronically generated estimates from having the option of keeping their business data from being utilized for unauthorized purposes. 

- The information that is harvested from the collision repairer's system is being used for purposes other than those that the subscriber had intended when contracting to use the estimating system software.

- The information is used by secondary customers in ways that may ultimately be detrimental to the subscribing end-user who generated the data.

When this issue was first broached several years ago, one primary response on the part of the estimating system providers was that the only data being captured was that obtained via the upload of Direct Repair (DRP) estimates, and those end-users had implicitly waived any data ownership rights by agreeing to upload estimates as a condition of their participation in the (DRP) program.  They also claim that no privacy rights have been violated since the information is all collected in a depersonalized manner, and presented as an overall aggregation of data collected. While we continue to contest the validity of both positions, the advent of cloud based platforms has expanded the data collection potential to include any businesses utilizing the server-based programs. It has also expanded the potential of data mining from only estimating programs to the possible inclusion of information generated from business management programs or other technology based service platforms.

The Information Providers may seek to reassure the collision industry that they have taken all necessary steps to safeguard repairer/consumer information from data privacy breaches. While the data may remain safeguarded from threats in the traditional sense of electronic security, the members of the collision industry remain concerned that the information is not necessarily safeguarded from the technology firms themselves who have built in contractual permissions to force the industry to permit utilization of the data in ways that were not intended or expressly approved by their customer base. We believe it is long overdue for our industry to have the express option  to either "Opt In" or "Opt out" of allowing technology firms to have access to ancillary uses of our data as a point of sale requirement to utilize the necessary tools once intended to aid the industry in running our businesses.

This statement serves as a public request from the collision repair industry to Audatex, CCC, Mitchell and other technology firms who collect data. The industry seeks removal of contractual clauses within End User License Agreements which require permissive access to aggregate and collect end-user data as a point-of-sale requirement to purchase those programs.  Further, we believe that if a business is to permit their data to be mined, they should be entitled access to an annual report specifically indicating where that data was used, and a list of parties that received reports utilizing data from the user's system. We believe the ability for businesses to choose participation in the data collection process is a reasonable solution, and we look forward to your response.

Published in INDUSTRY NEWS

ABRA Auto Body & Glass, a Minnesota-based multiple-shop operation with locations in 12 U.S. states, announced on January 6 the opening of a state-of-the-art repair center in Roswell, Georgia.

The new facility is located at 740 Holcomb Bridge Road and increases the total number of ABRA repair centers to 113.

Charlie Drake, Vice President of ABRA's Georgia market said, "We are looking forward to servicing customers in the Roswell community. Our mission is to be the best auto body & glass company in America. Opening this center is another important step toward achieving that goal."

The new repair facility is equipped with all the latest technology to maintain high standards and assure top quality repairs. Staff technicians have extensive experience and receive rigorous ongoing industry training.

Duane Rouse, ABRA’s Chief Executive Officer said, “The opening of the Roswell center strengthens our brand in the Georgia market. It’s part of our overall strategy to meet the growing needs of vehicle owners and insurance partners throughout the region.”

For more information please visit www.abraauto.com.


Eddie Lennox, Founder, Chairman of the Board, and CEO of Service King Collision Repair Centers, the nation's largest employee-owned operator of collision repair centers, announced new leadership appointments of the company on January 4. Lennox announced that Service King's President, Cathy Bonner, is the new Chief Executive Officer. Lennox will continue as Chairman of the Board of Service King.

Lennox said, "Service King has the best leadership team in the collision industry. Cathy Bonner has added seventeen new locations now covering 70% of the Texas population." Lennox added that Bonner's next goal is to lead the second growth phase making Service King a national company by adding assets beyond the Texas borders.

Moving into the President's role is Chris Abraham, currently Vice-President of the Houston Market. Jeff McFadden will take the role of Executive Vice President.

Also joining the executive leadership team in new positions are Eileen Clark, Chief Financial Officer, and Michael Devendorf, Chief Operating Officer.

"This is the future leadership of Service King and I am so excited about the possibilities for us," said Eddie Lennox. "This leadership team has combined, over one hundred years of corporate business experience."


The city of Houston delayed voting on an ordinance to regulate the automotive repair and service industry affecting every type of business that touches a car, whether it’s a body shop, an independent auto repair shop, a dealership or a big store like Wal-Mart. The council rescheduled the vote for February 15, 2012, after more issues were raised at a hearing held on December 20, 2011, when the council was originally supposed to vote on this ordinance.

This delay presents some new problems to both sides lobbying over the bill--they now have an entirely new city council, sworn in January 3, 2012, to update on the issues.

A new list of council members by district can be seen by clicking HERE, find out which district you reside in by visiting http://www.houstontx.gov/planning/2011/index.html. The Houston Auto Body Association (HABA) would like its members to reach out to the new council and make sure their opinions on this matter are heard.

Kathryn van der Pol, Past President of ASA, Houston Chapter, and co-owner of Adolf Hoepfl & Son Garage, is working with the HABA on writing their own version of the ordinance, incorporating what's good about the City's version to present to the new council since Houston Mayor Mayor Annise Parker, wants to pass an ordinance on this issue. Mayor Parker also made some changes to the ordinance, and the version that will be voted on February 15, 2012, can be viewed in its entirety by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, 04 January 2012 17:47

TIAA Meeting Coming in January

The Texas Independent Automotive Association (TIAA) will hold their monthly members meeting on January 19 at the Barn Door, 8400 N. New Braunfels Ave. San Antonio, TX

The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m., starting with a networking period. Speakers will begin at 7 p.m. Speakers have not yet been chosen and will be announced shortly before the meeting.

For more information about this meeting and other upcoming events for the association please visit www.tiaa.net.


On December 20th, Auto Angels, in association with The Mid Florida chapter of Florida Auto Body Collision Alliance (FACA), presented 12 reconditioned vehicles to a dozen local families at Victory Church in Lakeland, FL, to make for very special Christmas for all involved.

Cheers and tears erupted throughout the ceremony as keys to newly reconditioned vehicles were presented and the pre-selected and notified men, women and children were led to their newly reconditioned vehicle by an Auto Angel.

David Stewart, This year’s Auto Angels Chairman stated: “Getting twelve vehicles ready turned out to be a massive undertaking and couldn’t have been accomplished without the hard work and resources of many dedicated professionals; but the sacrifices paled in comparison to the feeling of accomplishment each of us felt in seeing the faces of the recipients. It was amazing and the true spirit of Christmas giving was felt by all. A special thank you to the Auto Angels’ committee, whom without their hard work and dedication, this very worthwhile program couldn’t have been possible."

The Auto Angle’s committee members include:
David Stewart, Chairman, Stewart’s Auto Repair
Ray Gunder, Past Chairman, Gunder’s Auto Center
Barrett Smith, Auto Damage Experts, Inc.
Cherri Surrency, Stewart’s Auto Repair
Nick McLeisch, Maurice’s Body Shop/Towing
Doc Jenkins, Jenkins Lincoln Mercury Collision Center
Michael Meisner, Meisner’s Paint and Body
Paul Hawk, Bernie’s Body Shop
Mike Maskolunas, Bartow Ford

For more information or on how you may participate in next year’s Auto Angels program, contact David Stewart @ This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call (863) 965-2030


California based Rare Parts Inc. is proud to offer custom manufactured pitman arms. With the help of our new Omax water jet 5555 cutting machine, Rare Parts can build just about any pitman arm you need. For those of you who are looking for a custom pitman arm for your application, let Rare Parts build it for you. We can offer any length, spline, taper, drop, bend, or thickness that you might specify. Why cut and weld your broken pitman arm when you can have Rare Parts build a heavy-duty replacement for you? Want it powder coated? We can do that too. To learn more about Rare Parts and their Diamond Series line, please go online, or give us a call. Do it right the first time with Rare Parts. 800-621-2005 - www.rareparts.com

Published in Product News
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