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The Estify story reads like a success checklist for tech start-ups. Young, savvy coders see an industry they can disrupt. Their idea wins university contests and scores a US$800,000 seed round of funding. They enter an accelerator. They move to sunny California to make their fortunes. One twist though: the industry. Rather than social media or travel or entertainment or fashion, the Estify founders set out to modernize what they see as an antiquated sector—collision repair.

“The industry’s really outdated and, to be honest, that’s why we wanted to work with it,” says Jordan Furniss, who founded Estify in 2012 in Provo, UT, along with fellow Brigham Young University business student, Taylor Moss, and Arkansas transplant, Derek Carr. “A lot of [shops] are family businesses, and some of the stuff they do is just how they’ve always done it.”

Specifically, the trio wanted to address the mind-numbing process of reconciling the actual cost of repair jobs with the estimates that the shops submit to customers’ insurance companies. Comparing estimates to costs—part for part, labor hour for labor hour—is a big time-suck, says Danny Panduro, vice president of J&L Body and Paint Shop in the Los Angeles, CA San Fernando Valley. “If our system doesn’t match the insurer’s estimate, it messes up accounting ridiculously,” he says. A big repair job can take two hours to reconcile, and J&L does about 20 estimates a week, in line with industry norms. Estify Reconcile completes this task automatically, comparing two scanned or PDF estimates line-by-line via algorithm and creating a report, so differences can be quickly addressed. “I upload the PDFs, and literally within five minutes I have a reconciliation,” Panduro says. “It’s gold.”

Estify, now based in the greater Los Angeles, CA area, sells its software to repair shops and adjustors for US$99 to US$500 a month, depending on how robust a system the shop wants and the number of estimates and reconciliations processed.

Within several weeks of its first big public push in October 2013 at an industry trade show, Estify had signed up close to 100 shops.

Thursday, 27 February 2014 00:14

Couple Arrested in Mtn View Body Shop Fire Investigation

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A couple has been arrested in connection with a January 2014 fire that damaged half a dozen cars at a Mountain View, CA body shop, police said, according to reports in the Mercury News. Paul Schonhardt, 28, of Los Altos, CA, and Angela Rutledge, 28, of San Jose, CA, were taken into custody on January 24, 2014, 11 days after the early-morning blaze at Pedro’s Auto Clinic on Terra Bella Avenue, said sargent Saul Jaeger of the Mountain View Police Department. Insurance fraud was the motive, Jaeger said. Schonhardt’s car was at the body shop for repairs, but instead of turning over a check from his insurance company to the body shop, he allegedly kept it and set fire to his car. A gas can was found under his car, Jaeger said. The blaze spread to five cars, destroying three and causing minor to moderate damage to the others, Jaeger said. None of the vehicles was occupied and no injuries were reported. Schonhardt was booked into Santa Clara County Main Jail for arson and Rutledge for being an accessory, Jaeger said. In addition, the couple is facing drug possession charges. Jaeger said the economy has led some people to fall back on insurance fraud to get out of debts.

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A customer whose truck was damaged in a hit-and-run could only afford to have some of the repairs done. When Caliber Collision techs in Carlsbad, CA, noticed a Purple Heart sticker on the truck window, they went above-and-beyond to fix the vet’s vehicle.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014 01:34

Bounced Body Shop Check Leads to Woman’s Arrest

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A 41-year-old Santa Monica, CA resident was arrested on Friday, January 31, 2014, after writing a bad check that bounced at an auto body shop. The story began on November 19, 2013, when officers of the Santa Monica Police Department were called out to an auto body shop located in the 1600 block of 14th Street to investigate a report of a woman writing a bad check in the amount of US$2,830.69. The officers learned that the woman had written the check to the owner of the company after he had performed work on her car. The check had bounced and, despite repeated attempts by the company owner to recover the funds from the woman, she had not complied. The case was sent to the desk of a detective and he conducted a search warrant of the suspect's bank account and discovered that on the date that she wrote the check, she did not have sufficient funds to cover the amount. This constituted the crime of passing a fictitious check with the intent to defraud, and the detective obtained a warrant for her arrest.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014 22:20

2-alarm Fire Damages Mike’s Auto Body in Portland, OR

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Portland firefighters were battling a two-alarm fire at Mike's Auto Body Shop in southeast Portland, OR, the night of February 11, 2014. The fire broke out shortly after 10 p.m. at 6004 SE 52nd Avenue.

Firefighters arrived to find the auto body store with heavy smoke pouring from roof vents and also realized there were apartments above the business.

With the size of the building and the possibility of people sleeping above the business in consideration, fire officials decided to upgrade the response to a second alarm.

Residents of the apartment above evacuated the building without injury.

The fire was extinguished and firefighters are now assisting arson investigators with sifting through the scene to determine a cause and damage assessment.

No injuries to residents or firefighters reported. The business was closed at the time the fire was reported.

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California-based Seidner’s Collision Center announced on January 30, 2014, that it has donated $10,000 to the Collision Repair Education Foundation to assist the efforts of the charitable organization to support high school and college collision school programs, instructors, and students across the country. “It is important that we, as an industry, continue to support this worthy cause every year,” said vice president Steve Seidner. Organizations looking to assist can call Brandon Eckenrode at 1-847-463-5244.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014 21:31

Nevada Employers to See Avg 3.2% Increase in Workers Comp

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Nevada employers will see an average 3.2 percent increase in workers compensation rates this year, the Nevada Division of Insurance said. The National Council on Compensation Insurance, Inc. had requested a 3.2 percent increase in the Nevada voluntary market workers compensation rates and a 3.3 percent increase in residual market compensation rates for 2014, the division said in a statement. Both rates, which were recently approved by Nevada insurance commissioner, Scott J. Kipper, will be effective March 1, 2014.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014 21:25

High-End Portland, OR, Body Shop Left a ‘Charred Mess’

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Firefighters spent nearly three hours late Sunday, February 16, 2014, fighting a three-alarm blaze at an automotive shop in northeast Portland, OR. The fire at German Formula, Inc., located at Northeast 11th Avenue and Couch Street, caused extensive damage, cut power to the block, and forced evacuations of nearby homes, said Gabriel Watson, a spokesman for Portland Fire and Rescue. No one was injured.

Bianca Hansrote was walking home that night when she saw a fire engine in front of her house. "We were terrified when we saw it," Hansrote said. "We thought it was our house."

It wasn't. The fire roared in back of her house through German Formula. Ignited about 9:30 p.m., the blaze took about 100 firefighters nearly three hours to knock it down. During that time, officials evacuated four households, cut electricity to part of the block, and closed nearby streets. With small explosions inside the building, firefighters had to stand back 50 feet in the snow and douse it with 4,000 gallons of water. Extensive damage was done to the shop and the cars inside.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014 21:19

Harold Tipton, San Diego’s First Honda Dealer, Dies at 97

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Harold Bunn Tipton was born on January 7, 1917, in Runningwater,TX, the second oldest of four to DeWitt Tipton and Essie King Tipton. He attended college for one year in Texas before serving as a private first class in the Army for one year. He moved to the east county of San Diego, CA in the mid-1950s and began selling cars—all makes and models—including Kaisers, Fords, Chevrolets, and Lincolns. His method for selling was old-school by today’s tactics. “When he started in the car business, he would go out with brochures and make appointments for people to come into the dealership,” said Peterson. “That is probably as tough as it gets. But he was a salesman.” In 1956, Mr. Tipton opened Tipton Oldsmobile in La Mesa, CA. Over the years, he held other franchises, including Fiat, Saab, Peugot, Chrysler, Plymouth, Volvo, and Jeep before opening San Diego county’s first Honda dealership in 1974, in El Cajon, CA. A Texan through and through, he loved John Wayne and westerns. The walls of his office at the El Cajon dealership were covered with the horns of real Texas longhorns, spurs, branding irons, and lariats.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014 21:13

Del Rey Blaine Harrison of Bountiful, UT, Passes at 66

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Del Rey Blaine Harrison passed away peacefully at home February 7, 2014. Del Rey was born July 20, 1948, in Castle Dale, UT, to Quentin Harrison and Grace Ilean Williams.

Del Rey was an auto body technician for many years. He worked at LW Auto Body for 20 years, Young Chevrolet for three years., and Willie & Son Ford for seven years. He was a great painter and body technician. He restored a 1957 Chevy convertible to a beautiful original condition.

His hobbies included camping, nature, and classic automobiles. Del Rey is survived by his wife of 37 years, DeanNa Dee Harrison; his children,Tiffany Downs and Dannille Wilcock; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Del leaves behind a much-loved sister, Dixie Branca (Jerry); brother, Bruce Harrison (Joyce); and many close friends, nieces, nephews, and loved ones. Funeral services were held on Thursday, February 13, 2014, at Russon Brothers Bountiful Mortuary. Interment is at Bountiful City Cemetery. View the online guest book.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014 21:05

CAWA Appoints Committee Chairs for 2014

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The California and Nevada Automotive Wholesalers Association (CAWA) chair of the board of directors, Ron Aparicio of Motul USA, Inc., has appointed the committee chairs and vice chairs for 2014. “These appointments are made in confidence that these individuals will add tremendous value in guiding our association policies and programs this upcoming year,” Aparicio said during the appointment process. The association looks forward to their leadership and I know that they will be a significant asset to the overall future of CAWA.”

2014 public affairs committee:

  • Chair - Scott Nassif, NAPA Auto Parts, Apple Valley, CA
  • Vice chair - Jack Gosnell, Next Level Parts, Inc., Turlock, CA

2014 membership and education committee:

  • Chair - Traci Quick, Star Distributing Company, Phoenix , AZ
  • Vice chair - Dan Hansen, Jr., Hanson Distributing Company, Azusa, CA
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