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Ed Attanasio

Ed Attanasio is an automotive journalist based in San Francisco. Ed enjoys sports of all kinds and is a part time stand-up comedian.

 

He can be reached at era39@aol.com.

Friday, 06 March 2020 18:57

Is Toyota of Berkeley the Country’s Oldest Collision Center?

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Body Shop Manager Paul Orea, left, and Assistant Manager Terrie Thompson, right, run the show at the collision center at Toyota of Berkeley’s Collision Center, which recently celebrated its 51-year anniversary. Body Shop Manager Paul Orea, left, and Assistant Manager Terrie Thompson, right, run the show at the collision center at Toyota of Berkeley’s Collision Center, which recently celebrated its 51-year anniversary.

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“Some of these guys can learn how to do the work, but other things can get in the way,” he said. "When I started in this industry, we didn’t have cellphones, for one. There are so many distractions these days, so if they can’t prioritize and multi-task, they’re going to have trouble in a high-production environment like this.”
 
Orea was recently involved in a career trade fair at Contra Costa College hosted by its auto tech department, where he was able to get a read on the future of this industry by meeting the techs of tomorrow. 
 
“More and more young people want to get into this business due to the technology,” he said. “Plus, it’s a trade where they can make a good income and that there will always be jobs if they work hard and have the skills.” 
 
Staying on top of the new technology as Toyota introduces it is a never-ending learning experience, Orea said. 
 
“This is an exciting time in collision repair because things are changing rapidly and we know that autonomous cars are going to happen within our lifetimes," he said. "Much of this new ADAS technology was developed for self-driving cars, so when the time comes, we will already know how to diagnose and fix these new features.”
 
The shop’s Assistant Manager Terrie Thompson is like a second mother for many of the employees, offering advice and award-winning fudge. 
 
She began working for Toyota of Berkeley in 2005 but entered the industry in 1981, she said. 
 
“I remember when we used manuals to get the information to do repairs and I still have a few of them at home," Thompson said. "Back then, the cars were not as complex as they are now. Today, they are big computers with four wheels underneath and it has plusses and minuses. They’re harder to repair, so we need more training and equipment to do it right.” 
 
By cultivating new technicians, painters and estimators, Orea is creating careers, but also keeping his cycle time low and his quality high. 
 
“It’s encouraging to see what my people are doing and excelling,” he said. “We found some people who are driven and share our passion, so it’s been very fulfilling.”

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