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Thursday, 12 July 2018 16:39

In Reverse: The 1940s – Part 2 – New Products, Higher Speeds

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Then in 1949, after 27 years in operation and becoming the largest insurer of automobiles in the nation, State Farm Insurance decided it was time to have its own network of full-time agents at the local level that would handle policy sales as well as claims. Up to this point, everyone had been part-time or handled State Farm policies as a side job, not as a full-time profession. It was decided, “The ideal agent was to be a man with at least a high school education, but preferably a college man. He was to be a man of integrity and standing in his community. Once he joined State Farm, he was to be educated in the techniques of insurance as well as trained in the skills of selling it, so he would be thoroughly aware of the nature of the product he was offering the public. He was to know the intricacies of life insurance, a field where policies are far more complex than auto insurance. And he was to know about fire insurance.”

Finally, a story about the formation of the collision repair industry in the 1940s would not be complete without mention of Glenn Mitchell---a parts counterman at a San Diego Chrysler-Plymouth-DeSoto dealer who founded Mitchell Manuals in his garage in 1946 by creating an easily used parts catalog for collision repair estimating. Mitchell had the idea of arranging collision parts by the quadrant of the car rather than by component groups, as in manufacturer catalogs. Eventually, aided by Duke Norman in 1958, he added labor and paint times, which enabled a body shop or insurance company to do a repair estimate and generate a bill of materials and work orders. Prior to this time, a body man would “guesstimate” labor by dollar amounts---as in $25 to hang the fender and $20 to paint it. They would then call the vehicle dealer for the parts prices. It was a laborious process, and the shop never really knew if they were making any money on the repair or not. But Mitchell’s idea, born in his garage in 1946, changed an entire industry.

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