In 1998, Clark sold his interest in the two shops and returned to work at his parent’s shop. By working harder and smarter, Clark starting adding new locations. “We’ve grown and currently have five stores in Metro Indianapolis with 75 employees. We fix 500–600 vehicles every month.” Today, Collision Solutions is an $11–$12 million business maintaining several DRPs. Clark is the current Chairman of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS), and has served the organization on its Board of Directors for the past five years.
Clark’s relationship with GFS–which bills itself as “the world’s leading provider of technologically advanced capital equipment solutions for the finishing industry”—started almost immediately after the fire that nearly destroyed his business. “We were in the process of changing over to waterborne anyway, so it was important for us to get a paint booth that was going to treat us well while using the waterborne finishes and that’s why we went with the GFS ECO Expert booth,” Clark said. “We put the four-corner tower blowers in it and installed a double prep deck adjacent to the paint booth. We took the opportunity to move the booth to a better location and connect it to a mix room and installed additional overhead doors in the building to create a better flow through our paint department. Even though it was definitely an emergency when our old paint booth caught fire, we have used the crisis to get better equipment and improve our operation overall.”
Clark says he wants to be able to buy a paint booth and then forget about it for a very long time. “we would like to enjoy 30 years of service out of this type of equipment and expect to see that from this GFS booth. We’re very excited to be working with GFS. This is our first GFS piece of equipment and by using it side-by-side with the other equipment we’re still using at our other locations, we can see that it performs better than the other equipment we’ve had. No question about it. We wanted a paint booth with all of the latest technology that’s currently available and the ECO Expert is exactly that. Everything is computerized and has all the features we were looking for.”
The process of installing the ECO Expert booth was painless and the power savings are considerable, Clark said. “Our rep, Don Putney of Indiana Booth Associates, installed it completely in October of 2009. Price-wise, GFS was very competitive, but we were more focused on all of the other things we were getting from the company. We were interested in the Variable Speed Drive (VSD) motors and the digital panel and the corner blowers we installed are totally controlled by the digital panel. Also, a big plus is that the booth pulls less electricity. We’ve seen an overall drop in our electrical bills, because the VSD motors pull less juice.”
The GFS ECO Expert has been the real instrument in getting Collision Solutions up and running with waterborne. “We have never sprayed solvent in that booth. We converted to water the first day we got the ECO Expert and we’re happy we did,” says Clark. “We’re not in an area where we have to use it by law, but we have five stores and since we were installing this new paint booth, we decided to spray waterborne to conduct my own internal testing. We’re still using solvent primarily at my other four stores, but by looking at the profitability and the performance, we will definitely be converting another store at some point soon. It’s a better and safer product and since it’s being used at the OEM level (for new vehicles), it should be used by collision industry repairers.”