The fourth annual Verifacts Automotive Fix it Right/Fix It Smart Symposium, was held February 23–24, at the spectacular Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort in Dana Point, California. This invitation-only symposium was attended by 350 collision professionals including shop owners, insurers, and related industry partners.

The Montana Collision Repair Specialists is an active association that is experiencing growth in membership this year. The association’s spring meeting is in Great Falls in April. Guest speakers will be Steve Bullock, Montana Attorney General, who recently announced his candidacy for Governor, and Jesse Laslovich, Chief Counsel for the Montana Securities and Insurance Division, who has announced his candidacy for Montana Attorney General.

This association has a strong legislative history. Their most recent legislative victory was in 2010 when a bill was passed that ‘prohibits insurers from disregarding a cost item identified by an estimating system.’

In October of 2011, Montana State Auditor, (Insurance Commissioner), sent an Advisory Memorandum to all Property and Casualty Insurers doing business in the State of Montana, advising them of the law and stating possible fines.

MCRS Past President, Max Yates, owner of Yates Body Shop in Butte, Montana has served region, HD 74, as State Representative for the last two years. Representative Yates has also announced his candidacy to continue his seat in the State Legislature in 2012/13. For a state as large as Montana, this association stays very connected through telephone calls and email and jobber support. Fall and Spring Meetings are well attended, hosting at least 80 people. Many shop owners will drive 7-8 hours to attend a meeting. Membership is almost at 100 shops out of about 225 in the state. Not bad for a state that has more cows than people!

When Tom O’Mara, an Iowa shop owner, was told by an insurance company that they were only going to pay him $52 an hour, even though his labor rate is $56, he became “mad as heck and was not going to take it anymore.” He called the vehicle owner and read the state law to him. The law in Iowa says that if the insurer writes an estimate or has one written for them, and the repair costs more than the estimate, the insurer must pay the difference. The vehicle owner called the insurer and insisted they pay O’Mara’s bill. Then O’Mara called the Iowa Governor’s office repeatedly until he got a face to face meeting with Governor Terry Branstad. O’Mara had to convince the governor’s aide first before getting a meeting with the governor. He showed him estimates and letters he claims revealed insurer threats against him, the last three years’ worth of price increases he has had to endure, and a copy of the 1963 Consent Decree. “I highlighted everything in the Consent Decree that the insurers agreed not to do anymore,” O’Mara said. “I let them know this is the third time I’ve given a copy of the Consent Decree to the State of Iowa and asked, ‘What are you going to do about it? This is still enforceable.” As a result of this meeting, the Governor requested that the Iowa Department of Insurance research three business practices in Iowa: collision repair labor rates, steering, and non payment of storage. This was last September.

This story made national news in USA Today and may have helped open a line of communication between Iowa collision repairers and the governor’s office.

In only a few years, the ICRA has become an established and recognized state organization that supports education, training, and industry networking.

Thursday, 22 March 2012 16:06

RBL Products New Pre-Treat System

RBL Products has introduced its Pre-treatment system in the automotive aftermarket. The system is very simple. It consists of a water-based conversion coating that is applied by wiping onto a bare metal surface. The product protects against corrosion and promotes adhesion. The directions are simply, you just wipe the pre-treatment onto the bare metal. Then let it air dry. The average dry time is between 2–5 minutes. You can then apply primer surface directly over the pre-treatment. It can be used on Hot and cold rolled metal, galvanized, stainless steel, aluminum, and other exotic metals.

The pre-treatment system was developed as a substitute for wash, etch, and epoxy primer. Expensive primers and waiting for 24 hours, as well as adhesion and corrosion issues, are now a thing of the past.

The pre-treatment system chemistry was developed and patented by Henkel Corporation. RBL Products recently was granted exclusive rights to convert the technology into pre-saturated wipes and markers. Henkel is the largest pre-treatment company in the world. The same process is used on every car produced since World War ll. Every vehicle as soon as it enters the paint shop is processed by a multi-stage zinc phosphate dip and rinse system before it enters e-coat and primer.

RBL president, Ron Lipson stated “The pre-treatment product puts back what was removed from the metal when grinding and sanding occurs. Once the industry understands the product and how it works it will become standard on all bare metal repairs. Insurance companies are going to mandate this product where applicable.” For more information visit www.rblproducts.com.

Looking for tips, tools and resources to help your business, defend your positions or do your part for the industry? Here’s a collection of links to sites, documents and information you may find interesting and useful.

— Motor Information Systems has released a revised edition of its Guide to Estimating (http://tinyurl.com/7zhbvr3), its explanation of what is and is not included in its estimating labor times (the system used by CCC Information Services). Revisions made in the February 2012 version are highlighted in blue within the guide.

The new guide, for example, indicates that recalibration of the steering angle sensor is not included in Motor labor times. Bumper labor times are now shown to include lamps when mounted to the bumper but not include optional equipment lamps or those not mounted to the bumper. Labor times for fender inner panels are now shown to include grinding, filling and smoothing welded seams up to 150 grit sandpaper. The guide adds electrical wiring to the list of non-included items on frame labor, steering column overhaul, trunk lid, lift gate and quarter panel times. Hinge pillar glass and moldings are now listed as included in cowl, hinge pillar and dash panel times.

— I-CAR has actually lowered the cost of its online training (http://tinyurl.com/7rsb2sb) to make it comparable (on an hourly basis) to the fee for its live, classroom training. There are now more than four dozen online classes available, some vehicle-specific (such as “Ford F-150 Frame Replacement”) and others more general (such as “MIG Brazing”).

Airbrush artist JoAnn Bortles, who owns Crazy Horse Custom Painting, and lives in Waxhaw, NC, started airbrushing her art onto motorcycles as a teen in the seventies on a dare. A lifelong interest in art led her to Parson’s School of Design in New York City, but she eventually had to return to suburban Connecticut to help out her parents. She had taken welding classes in high school and became a certified welder after returning home. She worked various factory jobs for the next few years until the words “If you’re such a hotshot artist, why don’t you try and paint my bike tank?” jolted her into the world of custom painting.

To view a PDF of this article please click HERE.

Her painting career really took off after the unexpected death of a friend in 1993. Her friend David had always pushed JoAnn to take her painting to the next level, saying she should be more serious about her talent. After he passed away unexpectedly JoAnn decided to honor his memory by taking a crack at becoming a professional custom painter. So she moved to Florida, which then, as now, was a hot spot for custom painting and honed her craft.

“Being around all these great painters made me really want to up my game,” said JoAnn. While in Florida JoAnn met and married her husband (now ex-) and they moved to Waxhaw in 1996. When she got to North Carolina, JoAnn realized it was a totally different game and since she was relatively unknown in the area she had a hard time finding people who would let her paint their cars.