Monday, 14 September 2015 22:40

ProFirst Certified Shop Discusses How the American Honda Program has Improved Business


Honda World Body Shop staff: AAA Writer and Body Shop Manager, Cesar Rodriguez; Fixed Operations Director, Randy Hickerson; and Body Shop Director, Larry Bortolussi accept Outstanding Performance awards from the Automobile Club of Southern California (AAA) for both 2013 and 2014.


In March 2015, American Honda launched the ProFirst Certified program after more than two years of research and development. Autobody News reached out to Honda World Body Shop in Orange County, CA, which became certified within the last six months, to learn more about their experience.

The California shop shares a location with Lexus of Westminister and was originally a Pontiac dealership in the 1960s, until it made the transition to Honda in 1996.

“Today’s vehicles are more complicated and more sophisticated with a higher degree of technology than ever before in the way they are designed, built and the materials used,” said Gary Ledoux, Assistant National Manager for American Honda Motor Co. “Honda and Acura are no exception.”

The location became ProFirst Recognized four years ago, and was one of the first shops to become ProFirst Certified. Because the location is both a Honda dealership and a body shop, making the upgrade earlier this year was an obvious decision, said Body Shop Director, Larry Bortolussi.

“The recognition you receive from being ProFirst Certified shop really helps,” said Bortolussi. “When customers do a Google search, we are at the top of the list.”

He said that becoming ProFirst Certified is not cheap or easy, but definitely worth it.

“Two years ago we retooled our whole shop,” said Bortolussi. “All 10 body men have their own Car-O-Liner. We also have four helpers that are body men too, and two general techs, totaling 16 technicians at our one location.”

The ProFirst Certified program is open to independent and dealer-owned collision shops. To qualify, shops must be either an I-CAR Gold Class shop or a VeriFacts VQ or Medallion shop. Honda World Body Shop was previously VeriFacts VQ certified. .

“When we became ProFirst Certified, a team from VeriFacts came out to coach our technicians through the transition,” said Bortolussi.

In addition, shops must complete Honda/Acura-specific training hosted by I-CAR, meet tool and equipment requirements, meet facility requirements, and have a CSI system in place.

Ledoux said collision technicians cannot repair “tomorrow-tech” vehicles with “yester-tech” knowledge, training, tools and equipment. “That’s what ProFirst Certified is all about—proper, complete and safe repair of Honda and Acura vehicles through proper training, repair information and equipment.”

Some of the benefits include a plaque for display plus free online access to all Honda and Acura service and repair information and parts catalogs. The shop’s contact information will be placed on the American Honda body shop locator website. Qualified shops will receive exterior signage, collateral promotional materials, and free access to a collision tech-line for help via telephone.

“No brand earns more Top Safety Pick awards than Honda,” said Steve Osborne, Assistant VP of the Parts, Service & Technical Division. “It is only logical that we support safe and proper collision repair of our customers’ vehicles and that we identify repair shops that are certified to possess the necessary skills, training and equipment to perform those repairs.”

During its development, the ProFirst Certified program involved people and departments with American Honda including parts marketing, service training, service engineering, and service publications. The company worked with several of their business partners, including Axalta Coatings, I-CAR and VeriFacts.

The cost of the program will be $2,700 annually. To learn more, contact profirstinfo.honda.com.

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