People have been repairing collision-damaged trucks since August Fruehauf stuck a trailer behind a Ford Model T in 1914 to create the first semi-trailer rig.
Oddly, it is only within the last year or so---over 100 years later---that the collision repair side of the trucking business started to coalesce as an industry. The industry’s development was recently accelerated by two key events.
The Technology and Maintenance Council, better known simply as the TMC, has been around since 1956. It brings fleets, manufacturers, suppliers and other industry stakeholders together to solve the industry’s toughest problems regarding transportation equipment. The TMC is an integral part of the American Trucking Association, formed in 1933 to represent the nation’s motor carrier industry.
The TMC’s latest event, dubbed “Beyond the Frontier of Maintenance,” was held at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta from March 18--21. The main focus of the TMC has traditionally been fleet maintenance and mechanical repair, although a year ago the organization started looking at the complexities and dynamics of HD collision repair.
Everyone knows that it’s bad enough to be in a collision with the family car, even if there aren’t any injuries. But when a commercial truck is involved in a collision, there is a lot more to consider. This is explored in the “Repair Procedures Roadmap” initiative chaired by Joey Fassett, president of Al’s Auto and Truck Repair in Exeter, NH.
The Roadmap begins with “pre-planning” for an accident along a truck’s usual route. (Trucks are rarely near their home port when an accident occurs.) It also covers how to deal with damaged freight or preserving freight, how to preserve and deal with accident evidence, and more.
Collision Repair Guidelines
Unlike the auto industry, the HD truck OE manufacturers do not provide collision repair procedures and guidelines, or even position statements on collision repair, for several reasons. The HD industry is then left to its own devices to create its own repair procedures based on best practices, accepted protocols and what information they can glean from the manufacturers of a truck’s component parts.
Chris Sterwerf of Fairfield Auto and Truck Service in Fairfield, OH, is the chairman of TMC’s Heavy Duty Collision Repair Guideline Task Force and is leading the charge to create HD collision repair procedures.
Currently, exploration and guidelines for frame repair and refinishing are on the table. During a break-out meeting at the TMC event, Sterwerf took several other suggestions for areas to explore, including how and when to check other chassis components such as steering mechanisms.
HD Repair Forum Event
On April 2 and 3, the second annual HD Repair Forum was held in Fort Worth, TX, drawing an enthusiastic crowd of about 250 HD repairers, shop owners, consultants, technical advisors and OE executives. It was founded in 2018 by Brian Nessen, perhaps best known for his work with the Stone Fort Group managing the auto collision industry’s NACE show, and long-time collision industry veteran Dan Risley, known for his work with Automotive Service Association and the Society of Collision Repair Specialists.
The Forum featured a wide array of speakers from several different disciplines within the truck and auto collision repair industry. Among those featured on the truck OE side were Bill Kahn, applications engineer for Peterbilt Motors; T.J. O’Hanlon, director of private label brands for Navistar; and Gregory Treinen, advanced technology marketing manager for Daimler representing Freightliner and Western Star Trucks.
Also featured were presentations from Bob Morris of the Gas Technology Institute and Wally Dubno, sales managers for Clean Energy Fuels, who talked about the future of CNG and LNG as fuels for heavy trucks and some of the things about which repairers need to be cautious.
Among the other presenters were two representatives from 3M who provided highly detailed presentations on practical repair of HD trucks, a representative from Chief who addressed HD truck damage analysis, and a representative from technology company Diesel Laptops who talked about HD truck scanning. In addition, about 25 vendors, including Axalta and PPG, featured table-top displays providing attendees a chance to talk directly with company representatives.
During the event, three awards were presented. Nick Notte of I-CAR presented Brad Keiter, manager for Penske Collision of Norcross, GA, with a plaque designating him as the very first I-CAR Gold Class HD truck shop. This designation is now available to any HD truck shop that qualifies.
Nessen and Risley presented two additional awards. John Spoto, national heavy duty truck commercial fleet manager for 3M, was presented with the Service Provider of the Year award for his part in creating a number of training classes for 3M and for his tireless help in the planning and creation of the HD Repair Forum.
Additionally, Nessen and Risley awarded in absentia the Repairer of the Year award to Sterwerf for his work as the chairman of TMC’s Heavy Duty Collision Repair Guideline Task Force, his industry position as a recognized leader in the HD collision repair industry, and for his work in helping create and promote the HD Repair Forum.
Based on the success of this year’s event and positive feedback from attendees, speakers and exhibitors, Nessen and Risley are already planning next year’s event, although exact dates and location are not yet available.