Company Connections (8)
Memorable partnerships make for great history: Hope and Crosby; Mantle and Maris; Jobs and Wozniak; Donny and Marie; Tom and Jerry—to name but a few. American Honda and OEConnection’s (OEC) CollisionLink® program can now be included on that renowned list of successful alliances. Since 2009, the automaker’s wholesale parts program, Collision Select, has connected a large number of body shops to their Honda and Acura dealerships’ parts departments via OEC’s CollisionLink parts procurement system. Through Honda’s program, the carmaker enables its participating dealers to assist body shops in enhancing their cycle times, alleviating shop returns, and streamlining parts ordering, but most importantly for repairers and parts managers, it allows shops to incorporate more Honda and Acura Genuine parts into their repairs.
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To further support an already healthy working relationship, American Honda is providing additional support to its dealers, through an aggressive promotional campaign known as “A Perfect Pair,” designed to provide further exposure and ultimately sign up additional collision facilities nationwide.
OEC’s Director of OEM Program Management, Bill Lopez, 47, has seen the collision industry from disparate perspectives over the past 22 years. After college he worked as a Claims Manager with Farmers Insurance, where he learned estimate writing, the importance of cycle times and the issues common to insurers, body shops and their customers. He also worked in business development with a paint manufacturer, an online estimating company and even joined an internet startup for a time in Silicon Valley.
BK Listings, an internet marketing company that provides industry-specific listings to businesses in the automotive industry, has expanded its services to include everything automotive. BK Listings was founded in early 2010 and is headquartered in Dearborn, MI.
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The company started with 3 employees; a web designer, a programmer, and Owner and Founder Bradley Brennan.
Brennan started BK Listings to offer industry specific and content rich profiles to businesses in the automotive industry and to offer customers an easier way to find the best shops in their area. BK Listings focuses exclusively on the automotive service industry—their motto is “anything and everything automotive.”
“You could never include the type of information you can with us on a Google or Yellow Page ad. They’re too general and don’t let your customers see what they need to see,” said Brennan.
BK Listings allows automotive businesses to list the industry-specific information customers searching for this type of business want to see, such as which insurance companies the shop has a Direct Repair relationship with and a complete list of services provided that distinguish the shop from the competition.
All of this information is searchable by users on BK Listings, so if a shop offers a certain service that people in their area want, customers will be able to search for that service and find that shop with ease.
LKQ operates from nearly 300 facilities nationwide and surpassed $2 billion revenue in 2009. It’s an enormous company that could potentially burn many unneccesary thousands of dollars on fuel and electricity every month. But, by staying ahead of the game in its pursuit of ultimate greenness and sustainability in parts recycling, LKQ has quickly become a leader in re-using, remanufacturing and recycling everything it can while using fewer of the world’s natural resources in the process.
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LKQ is a recognized leader in recycled auto parts and uses environmentally friendly business practices and while recycling 492,000 vehicles last year. That is equivalent to recycling about 540,000 tons of steel, 47,000 tons of aluminum, and 13,000 tons of copper, according to the company’s web site. Through its operations, LKQ helped to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 890,000 tons, which is about the same as the annual emissions of a city of about 82,200 people.
“In addition, LKQ recently partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation to give its customers and anyone else interested in helping the environment an additional way to be green in the company’s LKQ Get Green promotion, which ran from April 22 to June 30 of this year. Together with its customers, LKQ was able to plant a forest at the conclusion of the program.”
Paul Shaw is LKQ’s Central Region Vice-President, overseeing Colorado, South Dakota, Nebraska, Western Iowa, Western and Southern Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Northern and Western Louisiana.
Steve Vettel, owner of Pacific Collision Centers, with six locations located in five Southern California counties, learned the collision business by working at the dealership level for many years, and gleaned much knowledge from that perspective.
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Since then, Vettel’s shops have flourished and consistently generated rave reviews, while establishing a reputation for embracing the latest technology and operating on the cutting edge. His relationship with PPG, his paint supplier for more than a decade, is one of the reasons why Pacific Collision has hit impressive numbers, even during a recession.
Together, Pacific’s six locations repairs an average of approximately 500 cars monthly, operating out a total of 140,000 combined square footage and employing 100 people, including 25 paint crew members, Vettel told Autobody News.
At his peak, Vettel said he was repairing 750 cars per month, but the recession dropped his numbers, just like everyone else’s in the country. “So much has changed within the last 18 months that we don’t know where we’re headed right now. The larger operations will survive and a lot of the smaller independents will be closing or getting absorbed by the larger chains. That’s the reality of it, so we need to prepare for these developments if we want to survive and stay profitability.”
One of the things Vettel calls a “smart move” involves his 12-year relationship with PPG. “They’ve helped us in so many ways,” he said. “We’ve used their assistance on how to dial in our processes and we’ve tapped into their knowledge and experience time and again. PPG is a great supplier, because they have a good product, Envirobase® High Performance, but they also help us on so many different levels.”
Matrix System Automotive Finishes, a subsidiary of Quest Specialty Chemicals, not only provides painters with a wide array of primers, clearcoats and solvent-based paints, it now produces waterborne and other low-VOC paints.
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Founded in 1983, Matrix System employs over 115 full-time associates in a 52,000 square foot modern production facility in Commerce Township, MI. The corporate headquarters, warehouse and training facility are located in Walled Lake, MI.
Matrix System became the first aftermarket paint manufacturer to introduce a successful intermix system of toners, pearls and companion products shortly after the company’s inception. All of Matrix System’s aftermarket clearcoats, primers, hardeners and reducers are produced in the United States—making it one of the last American-made paint companies.
Aqualution™ is Matrix System’s new high performance waterborne basecoat system. Matrix System provides 66 Aqualution toners and pearls to provide maximum color matching capabilities. Aqualution is designed to meet future and current VOC requirements. Aqualution™ also provides easy application, quick coverage in less coats, faster cycle times, a smooth satin appearance and over 25,000 color possibilities.
Aqualution™ does not require any new equipment since toners are simply shaken prior to use. Aqualution toners can be stored on common shelves at a constant temperature and minimal training is needed to work with Aqualution™ paints.
“In most cases we’ve had people up and running within a few hours,” Ken Papich, Western Regional Manager for Matrix System, told Autobody News.
Rome Technologies, the forerunner in collision repair process management software, has just released CompleteShop2010.
CompleteShop is the only software on the market to allow you to increase your productivity and profits with the same staff and resources. CompleteShop groups the tasks for the writers, parts, production and customer service departments and prioritizes them for the shortest cycle time while maintaining the highest level of communication to the customer, insurer and rental car company. “No other software on the market can offer such incredible results,” says Patrick Power of DARCARS Toyota. “Our productivity has increased 40% percent, and significantly improved our net profit and the quality of life of our entire staff.”
The new release will also include an entirely new integration for CompleteShop to interface with CCC, Mitchell and Audatex. This new integration will support Text Recognition Technology (TRT), writers will be able to distribute income into the categories of their choice putting transactions in the right place the first time. For the first time, estimates and supplements will no longer require editing in the management system. This will allow the user to have more income categories to better scrutinize profits and process at every level of production and will decrease time spent navigating through screens and editing repair orders. Rome Technologies founder, Scott Rome explains, “We are constantly developing CompleteShop to meet the needs of our customers. This new integration is a direct response to the suggestions we received from writers bogged down by these required changes.”
In addition to the new integration, automated communication features have also been added to CompletShop2010 for both customer service and production. Combined with the new up-to-the-minute production forecasting and alert feature, the automated communication system notifies staff immediately if a car is behind in production and can also send emails or texts to customers to keep them informed on the status of the car – improving cycle-time and customer service index. Additional improvements to parts management, customer information screen, security settings and reporting have also been made. Rome Technologies is conducting a series of free Webinars throughout the year to train current users on the new features.
To learn more about Rome Technologies factory-based process management business model contact Scott Rome at 800-373-Rome or visit www.rometech.com.
President, Rome Technologies
Many companies talk a big game when it comes to being lean and green, but LKQ says it is 100% dedicated to saving fuel, electricity and recycling everything that the enormous company can possibly touch, use, or produce. It’s not easy being lean and green because it involves a considerable investment in time, money and personnel to achieve sustainability and a high level of true greenness. But LKQ is dedicated to making the investment and leading the way among companies its size to being a trendsetter in taking the green approach to a whole new level.
LKQ operates from 290 facilities nationwide and passed $2 billion for revenue in 2009. “In 2010, we’re headed to hit that number again and higher,” Steven Jones, Vice-President of LKQ’s West-Northwest Regions said. Jones has been one of the prime movers behind the company’s transition to becoming greener nationwide.
Jones attended a recent conference sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy, in which most of the country’s Fortune 500 companies was represented. The subject of the conference was on newly constructed building sustainably, Jones explained.
“The experts told us that when we build new facilities, let’s try to educate ourselves on how to build them so that they’re sustainable,” he said. “By using re-used materials and incorporating things that require less energy, we can become a better, productive and more responsible company. During this three-day conference, I learned that some of the most simple things you can do while constructing new buildings can help you to save more power and be forward-thinking in every aspect of reusing and saving.”
The conference made a huge impression on Jones, who took the information back to LKQ for implementation. “It was a real eye-opener on many levels. Getting green isn’t easy, but in the end you win, because you save money and you save energy. One is good for the company and the other is good for everyone. We’ll be building approximately 50 brand new facilities from the ground up this year—warehouses, self-service and full-service salvage yards and distribution centers—throughout the country, to support our product.”
A big part of this efficiency-focused reform involved changing LKQ’s lighting systems in new and existing facilities. “One prime example where we can save tons of money and energy is by embracing the newest lighting in our buildings. Most of our warehouses have 30-ft. tall ceilings. We want them high and tight to save space, because land is expensive and building new facilities is very costly.
In the past, we used metal halide and sodium vapor lights—if you go to most average warehouses, these are the lights you’ll find there. They use a ton of energy and they don’t put off that much light. A T5HO is a high output light designed for these tall warehouses, and it uses roughly 25% of the energy that the standard lights we used to have. To take it even further, we’ve equipped these lighting systems with motion sensors on every light. It’s now a law in California to incorporate to them in every newly constructed building because it makes sense and saves a lot of energy.”
Saving energy is a priority across the board, Jones said, which also includes the offices within every LKQ facility. “Each of our new offices now has two light switches, one for half-light and another for full light. So if there’s a sunny day outside, maybe you only need to have half of the light running. All these little things added up can make a big difference in our consumption of energy, so we’ve embraced all of these policies in all of the construction of our buildings from the ground up.”
The savings derived from the company’s new lighting was apparent almost instantly, Jones said. “It’s a huge effort. For example, we installed T5HO lighting in a 100,000-square-foot warehouse in Santa Fe Springs, CA, and we haven’t had a light bill exceeding $2,000 monthly since we opened it, although it is operating 18 hours per day. There are 70 people working out of that facility and the building’s energy consumption is considerably less than many of our older facilities. It’s just remarkable how much money we can save by designing these new facilities using the latest technology in energy-saving innovation. Of course it’s not cheap installing these types of systems in our new facilities, but they will pay for themselves if you do it right. For instance, those T5HO lights will get your money back within the range of 1-2 years, I would estimate. But, it does take that initial investment.”
Tapping into natural light is another method of saving money and energy. “We’re also requiring that skylights be built into the warehouses, depending on the local codes in each city. It will run between 4-10% of the light derived from sky lighting a facility. And of course, that’s the most sustainable energy you can find and it’s free. Skylights aren’t cheap either, but in the end it’s not all about the cost. It’s about taking the environmental high road versus just the economics. You’re making a commitment that says ‘hey, we have to make a decision.’ You know we have to make a difference—that’s what we’re doing. We’ve decided that being green does matter and [as a company we want to do] something that is the right thing to do that’s sustainable.”
LKQ is going green in every room, even in several of their bathrooms in some facilities.
“We’ve invested in Dyson hand dryers in the West region, a new device that allows us to eliminate the use of paper towels in all of our bathrooms. At $1,400 installed, these units aren’t inexpensive, but they’ll dry your hands in ten seconds, so it saves energy and paper, of course. We made a decision that we don’t want to create a bunch of trash in our daily lives. Why cut down a bunch of trees to use paper towels when you can use a Dyson hand dryer and save. We’ve installed 15 of these devices in our buildings and the response has been outstanding. They’ll pay for themselves in roughly 16 months.”
LKQ has always focused on recycling and reusing everything, but now they’re even more adept at keeping car parts in circulation. “Reusing something that somebody already used and rebuilding it to get it back into a vehicle is as green as you can get. This way, we keep them out of the landfill and make them usable once again, the way it should be designed. We’re also stocking re-manufactured products more than ever, including engines, transmissions, rear ends, steering gears, steering pumps, rack & pinions. We’re stocking all of these things, so that our end users don’t have to buy new ones. An entirely new transmission costs a ton to make, but our re-manufactured transmissions are just as good. Rebuilding one will use one-half of the overall energy it takes to manufacture a new transmission.”
Manufacturers buy cores from LKQ to rebuild their engines and transmissions, for example. “When a manufacturer wants a core, they call us. This way, we make sure that these products ultimately get back into the main stream of commerce, so that they don’t have to build a new one.”
Saving energy, reusing, reconditioning, recycling and doing their part to help preserve the environment is LKQ’s ongoing commitment. “Being green never ends. It’s not a momentary thing or something we do to because it’s popular today. We’re in for the long-term and committed and that will never change.”
According to the company’s Web site, “LKQ is a leader in recycled auto parts and environmentally friendly business practices and recycled 492,000 vehicles last year. That is equivalent to recycling about 540,000 tons of steel, 47,000 tons of aluminum, and 13,000 tons of copper. Through its operations, LKQ helped to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 890,000 tons, which is about the same as the annual emissions of a city of 82,200 people.
“In addition, LKQ recently partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation to give its customers and anyone else interested in helping the environment an additional way to be green in our LKQ Get Green promotion. Anyone who visits www.LKQGetGreen.com between April 22 and June 30, 2010 and enters a valid email address will receive 1 tree planted in their honor. Customers can also print a savings coupon to use with their next LKQ recycled purchase. Those who use the coupon will receive $25 off their purchase or can choose to have 25 trees planted in their honor. Together with its customers, LKQ anticipates planting a forest at the conclusion of the program.”
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Paul Masters, the owner of Spray Gun Repair Inc. of 344 Chase Rd in Thompson, Connecticut, has been rebuilding and cleaning Spray Guns since 1976.
At that time, he was working at his family-owned business, Masters Auto Body Supplies, where he learned to rebuild and properly clean spray guns to meet customer needs and to extend the useful life of their automotive paint spray guns.
Masters has heard the same stories from spray gun users in applications as different as furniture and cabinet refinishers to auto painters. He knows the prevailing attitude is “When my spray gun stops working properly, I toss it under my bench and buy a new one.”
This he knows to be a senseless waste of time and money. He’s identified four basic levels of spray gun maintainance: daily lubrication, periodic maintainance (best performed at the end of the work week), thorough cleaning (if the periodic maintainance doesn’t prevent the problem), and eventually rebuilding the spray gun (replacing all the gaskets, seals, and packings).
Masters views his business as both lean and green, in the same way a shop would view any more efficient, cost effective process. But he sees even greater demands now given the new EPA regulations for efficient transfer, whether a shop is spraying waterborne or solvent, or both.