Tuesday, 31 January 2006 09:00

CCRE Update Tech considers CR an art form

Written by Dick Strom

Nate Tarr is a member of theCCRE, and a talented painter-technician. A regular contributor on CCRE's exclusive board discussions, Tarr brings a tech's perspective to other CCRE-member techs, shop managers, and shop owners who regularly read and comment on the CCRE Discussion Boards. 

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Married and the proud father of nine-month young Hank, at age 30, Tarr has spent nearly all of his working life in the collision industry, primarily as a painter in shops in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Except for framework, Tarr's experience includes a little of everything in the shop.

"I consider myself a little different from the average employee in that, to me, my work is more like an art-form. I'm very thorough in making my finished product look as if the accident never happened; I lose myself in my work. Other painters I know say there's no way for them to avoid taking shortcuts to get their work done on schedule. But I disagree; for them to do their work efficiently and correctly the first time, without taking shortcuts, in the end everyone wins.

"I understand collision repair is a business, and that businesses need to make money to stay in business. But I look at my job as more than just a paycheck. This is what I love to do, and I take pride in my work. These vehicle-damaged customers have paid a lot of money for their cars, and they have put their trust in us to do a professional repair. It sickens me to see techs focus more on how fast they can get something done, than on how well they can do it. The mad scramble to see who can squeeze the most hours out of a week is not in the best interests of anyone.

"To have a boss look on employees who deliver speedy repairs as superior employees - as better employees and better techs because they're knocking out jobs left and right - should bother anyone who cares about what they do. The day I turn into a worker like that is the day that I'd rather deliver newspapers for a living. If you're not going to do it right don't do it at all, is what I believe and practice.

"Most techs are natural complainers. But if more techs were to trade their complaining for getting involved - they wouldn't necessarily have to join any organization, just fight for what is right for starters - this would be a much better industry. I've been trying to talk to techs that I think would be a good fit for CCRE. I know lots of techs and I'm trying to reason with them.

"Techs are aware of the fact that in many shops white collar workers look down on the 'lowly' blue collar worker. It irritates me that so many office workers just assume they are more intelligent and sophisticated; that we techs are looked upon as being inferior, unskilled, dumb, foul-mouthed trash that do what we do because we weren't able to get the grades to go to college. But many of us have pursued this profession because it fulfills a need within us - refinishing a vehicle so it will never reveal it has been damaged is a form of art.

"It would kill me to have to work in an office… where is the art in office work? And yet office workers pull many of the strings. Our shop just purchased a new frame machine and measuring system, and it was the office personnel who got together and made the decision what kind of machine to purchase… with no input from the techs. Earlier, when it was decided to switch paint companies, the decision was made by office people, which is a shame because the brand they chose is the most deficient paint system I've ever used.

"There's plenty of room for more techs in CCRE. I love CCRE's discussion board forums, and have learned a lot from them, and hopefully my contributions have helped others to see this industry from the eyes of techs. At the shop where I work, if you announce that there are doughnuts in the lunchroom, all the techs are there within thirty seconds. Maybe we could attract more techs to CCRE if we told them we've got doughnuts here!

The CCRE represents the interests of collision shop owners operating as independent business entities, empowering them to successfully challenge the mandated use of inferior crash parts, decline to do improper repairs, and pursue legal remedies for illegal job "steering."

For more information, write to: theCCRE, PO Box 60007, Reno, Nevada 89506, or contact Lou or Dana at (877) 700-7743. E-mail: CCREoffice@aol.com. Visit the web site at www.theCCRE.com.