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Wednesday, 30 April 2003 17:00

Expert critiques Modern Collision Rebuild

Written by Dick Strom

In two recent articles, I spoke with Mark Olson, owner of Future Forensics, and part owner of Verifacts Automotive, businesses specializing in automotive damage investigations. Olson exposed a number of common mistakes that could easily land shops in legal hot water, even bankruptcy. Olson keeps up on the latest changes from manufacturer service bulletins, and knows first-hand, having supplied "expert witness" testimony at many auto-related court cases, how juries, unfamiliar with the intricacies of collision repair, render judgment. So, when Olson (an I-CAR instructor, former insurer representative, and former shop owner) offered to take a critical look my shop's repairs in progress, to point out what we're doing right and wrong, I accepted. 

Saturday, 31 May 2003 17:00

Candid review of Strom shop operations continued

Written by Dick Strom

In last month's column, you read a candid review of our shop operation on Banbridge Island, near Seattle, Washington. The review was conducted by Mark Olson, owner of Future Forensics (, and co-owner of Verifacts Automotive. Olson specializes in auto damage investigations and supplying "expert witness" testimony in auto-related court cases. 

Monday, 30 June 2003 17:00

Skilled techs discuss the state of the CR industry

Written by Dick Strom

Bill Mauldin, the pen behind the "Willie and Joe" cartoons in WW2-era editions of the Army's Stars and Stripes, died recently. Following the war, Mauldin published his cartoons with explanations of the incidents that inspired them in Up Front With Bill Mauldin, the first of two Pulitzer Prize winning books. Mauldin, whose characterizations have evoked more cheers and scorn than possibly any other war cartoonist, could empathize with the quandary of battle-weary Army infantrymen because he was one of them. 

Thursday, 31 July 2003 17:00

Skilled techs talk about what irks and frustrates them

Written by Dick Strom

In last month's article, you read candid opinions straight from the keypads of skilled techs, describing what they see wrong with business-as-usual collision repair and their views on what good employers should do if they want to keep them with their shops.

Sunday, 31 August 2003 17:00

Profiting from Wal-mart-ization of the CR industry

Written by Dick Strom

If you can imagine Big Bird settling into a cozy yet busily productive henhouse - the aloof behemoth arrogantly fluffing its plumage as it wiggles its super-sized rear into a comfortable nesting spot, destroying everything the residents spent years producing, you can understand why thousands of productive small businesses become alarmed, outraged, even militant when Wal-Mart barges into their market area. 

Sunday, 30 November 2003 17:00

Clout is generated when everyone works together

Written by Dick Strom

Clout is generated and precedents are put into play when shops work together with repair organizations that really have a heart for the concerns of the collision industry. But even more favorable results are possible when consumers are willing to go to bat for their rights, and for those of shops that encourage them to take a stand.

Wednesday, 31 December 2003 17:00

Insurer-owned shops - sucking the life out of suckers

Written by Dick Strom

An independent (non-DRP) shop owner-friend recently told me their local shop association hosted a meeting to discuss the proliferation of Sterling shops in their area. He wrote, "A lot of major DRP shops showed up to voice very strong opposition to insurance company ownership of shops. What's interesting is the number of 'scared DRP shops' who think Sterling's arrival is the 'beginning of the end' for their businesses." 

Saturday, 31 January 2004 17:00

If health insurance were like auto insurance

Written by Dick Strom

"Looking at your X-rays, your right hip is pretty shot… must be painful." I couldn't help noticing the way Dr. Jack looked at me sideways, sizing me up, a few gold crowns gleaming through a cryptic Rhett Butler sneer that, lacking only a cigar, would have pegged him a dead ringer for a used car salesman, not a surgeon. 

Friday, 30 April 2004 17:00

Are insurers price-shopping repairers into limbo?

Written by Dick Strom

The more I read about Wal-Mart - the world's largest retailer with its nearly $250 billion-and-rapidly-growing gross sales last year, and in its third year as #1 on Fortune 500's list - the more like the insurance industry they appear to be. In fact, one might wonder whether Wal-Mart is taking its cues from the insurance industry or vice versa. 

Monday, 31 May 2004 17:00

How collision avoidance systems will affect your auto body business

Written by Dick Strom

Nothing makes me cringe - physically turning my insides to mush - like the squeal of tires in that desperate, futile, out-of-control second before an inevitable collision. Having cleaned up too many blood-splattered cars, I'm in favor of anything that would assure deathless, injury-less accidents. Collision Avoidance Systems, devices currently being developed and fine-tuned to minimize the frequency and severity of auto accidents promise to drastically change the way we drive. These will also greatly change the collision repair landscape.