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Wednesday, 02 December 2020 19:15

In Reverse: The ‘80s---Foreign Cars and Other Changes

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...there had been many attempts in the past to franchise shops, but this was the first to attempt the concept on a nationwide scale.

 

USAutobody Network was a concept developed and administered by Chief Automotive Systems, makers of Chief EZ Liner equipment. The article noted there would be no “company-owned” shops, nor would the franchise agreement call for the homogenization of shops.

 

All shops would continue to be locally owned and run, but would have to meet certain criteria to qualify for the network, not the least of which would be the ability to repair unibody vehicles, something the industry still struggled with.

 

Along with equipment requirements---which oddly did not require Chief products---each shop would be responsible for having properly trained technicians and managers.

 

The USAutobody Network franchising group opened its first four shops, all in Nebraska, in the fall of 1988. All were established shops that had been in business for between five and 40 years.

 

It is unknown what caused the demise of this initiative; however, the USAutobody Network trademark was cancelled Feb. 6, 1995.

 

In 1989, the CARSTAR franchise was founded by Lirel Holt and proved to be much more successful. Holt had been a shop owner and an expert in collision management for the 3M company.

 

He shared his knowledge with thousands of shop owners and managers as director of the much-heralded ARMS workshops. There, he developed a belief that a network of quality collision repair facilities across North America would be a benefit for consumers and welcomed by the insurance industry.

 

Holt used his knowledge and contacts and dedicated his efforts to building the CARSTAR franchise system. He was the first to...