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When his customers are spending big money on vehicles costing more than $50,000 and sometimes well into six figures, Jim Frost, the manager at Prestige Imports Collision Center in Lakewood, Colorado, knows his paint jobs have to be top-tier every single time.

The other day I overheard a woman talking on her cell phone. I couldn’t help it. She was upset and yelling.

Shawn Saidi, 48, owns Active Auto Body in Sunnyvale, Calif., a highly successful shop whose motto is “Making Friends by Accident.” It might be a catchy slogan, but Saidi has succeeded in the collision industry not by chance or by accident. He’s the current president of the California Autobody Association’s (CAA) Santa Clara chapter, and has enthusiastically embraced the leadership role, because he wants to make this industry better and help other shops in the process.

The conversion to waterborne paint in states like New Jersey is a reality for body shops throughout the Northeast, because by 2012 regulations will likely mandate the use of the new paint.

Jimmy Lefler owns and operates five extremely busy body, mechanical, and glass shops based in Evansville, Indiana, that are repairing more than 200 cars per week, juggling eight DRPs, employing 80 people and doing approximately $9 million in annual sales.

Shawn Saidi, 48, owns Active Auto Body in Sunnyvale, Calif., a highly successful shop whose motto is “Making Friends by Accident.” It might be a catchy slogan, but Saidi has succeeded in the collision industry not by chance or by accident. He’s the current president of the California Autobody Association’s (CAA) Santa Clara chapter, and has enthusiastically embraced the leadership role, because he wants to make this industry better and help other shops in the process.

When most of us think about hail, we think of stormy weather. But in parts of the country, hail means big money for body shops. When hail-prone places like Northern Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, Arkansas and Alabama, get grapefruit-sized or pebble-sized hailstones it can quickly change peoples’ lives. And it happens every year during hail season, which normally starts in March and can run all the way through October.

As almost every body shop manager in this country knows, waterborne paint is a proven commodity in the collision repair industry and shops outside of California are gradually but decidedly heading in that direction. As federal regulations and air quality management agencies apply pressure designed to nudge more states towards lower VOCs, some body shops in parts of the country will undoubtedly resist change, while others will embrace it for its wide range of benefits.

While many body shops in the country are battening down their hatches financially, operating with skeleton crews and going into survivor mode, Gene Crozat, the multiple location owner of G&C AutoBody in Marin and Sonoma counties, CA, is buying land, building new facilities, and signing up more DRPs. Crozat is aggressively looking to gain more of the market, while exploring further expansion opportunities in areas where he sees potential for growth and profitability.

The holiday season always arrives a little earlier for deserving families in Contra Costa County when Mike’s Auto Body in the East Bay presents refurbished vehicles to disadvantaged and deserving families.

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