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Tuesday, 04 December 2018 22:42

In Reverse: The 1960s – Associations, Leaders and Poor Management

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On the collision side, it was the $29.95 paint job. The concept undoubtedly attracted some work to the shop, but many shop owners thought that the concept was illegitimate and gave consumers a poor impression of the industry. Harry Wright, president of the IGOA, railed against those shops, both mechanical and collision. He purported that shops were promising ridiculously inexpensive jobs, only to either turn around and charge the customer two to three times as much or do virtually nothing for the cheap, agreed-upon price. He noted that garages that continue this practice continue to “denigrate the automotive repair business and put the industry in a negative light.” The IGOA and other associations continued to fight this wherever and whenever possible.

 

The 1960s also saw the increasing involvement of insurance companies, spawning another trend that continues today to a certain degree---the shop owner who “has had enough” and gotten out of the business. Stories like this one started to pop up all over the collision trade magazines: “After running a three-man body shop for over 25 years, Linwood King of Raleigh, North Carolina was tired of the insurance companies harassing him for parts discounts, asking him to lower his labor rate, asking him to cut corners and driving customers from his shop. Rather than fight anymore, King stopped doing body work as his main source of business and stopped dealing with insurance companies. Instead, he turned to mostly mechanical work with some small body jobs on the side---small enough that they were customer-pay and did not involve an insurance company. All work was done for cash, on a take-it-or-leave-it basis.” Most had a similar story--- it was tough to get started at first. But after things evened out, the shop typically had a smaller volume of business but made more money with less stress, and the owner could sleep at night.

 

Throughout the ‘60s, industry leaders called for shop owners to clean up their businesses and make them more pleasant and aesthetically pleasing to customers, as well as workers. Many owners stepped up and modernized their shops, bringing them out of the ‘60s and onto the edge of the 1970s.


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