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The major paint companies, struggling to overcome federal charges of price-fixing and their largely unsuccessful and expensive "shop investment" programs of the '90's are now focusing on "value added" shop management programs to attract and retain customers. 

Throughout the Las Vegas Convention Center the 35,000 attendees at last month's NACE seemed to be talking as much about the event itself as they did about the usual industry announcements, speakers and the "good deals" to be had on the trade show floor. 

On the heels of a federal antitrust investigation into price-fixing by paint manufacturers in the automotive refinish industry, at least four lawsuits have been filed around the country by paint distributors and body shops accusing the world's five largest paint makers of price-fixing. 

Auto body shops in California continue to get a black eye as the Bureau of Automotive Repair's (BAR) reinspection program picks up steam. A preliminary report issued in late January showed that 43% of cars inspected so far had evidence of fraud, with an average of $586 in overcharges for parts not used or labor not performed. BAR says that it has already inspected 507 vehicles and found evidence of fraud in 217, most often billing for parts not used or labor not supplied. 

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 California Autobody Association past presidents gathered at the annual meeting to honor the association's milestone year.  From left to right John Loftus, Kelly McCarty, Don Feeley,Jr., Maureen Holmes, Jack Caldwell, Rick Johnson, Chuck Bistagne, Ed Van Klavern, Russ Scamara, Ron Guilliams (seated),  Rick Reiss, Bill Rupp, Joe Boivin and Warwick Bryan.

Farmers Insurance is pushing to elect California State Assemblyman Tom Calderon (D-Montebello) as the new Insurance Commissioner of California, and to aid in that effort it is apparently soliciting campaign contributions from companies it does business with including its Circle of Dependability (COD) DRP shops.