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Tuesday, 07 August 2018 20:10

The Complexities of Truck Collision Repair

Written by Susan L. Hodges, Transport Topics
Chris Sterwerf and his father, Dennis Sterwerf, founder of Fairfield Auto and Truck Service, stand next to their shop's repair-planning computer. Chris Sterwerf and his father, Dennis Sterwerf, founder of Fairfield Auto and Truck Service, stand next to their shop's repair-planning computer. Fairfield Auto and Truck Service

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Adler used to take collision-repair jobs to a nearby truck dealership. “But they didn’t know how to do aluminum,” he said. He subsequently visited several local repair shops, talking to shop owners and examining the work being done.

 

When a light-duty pickup truck ran into a Colerain firehouse in June 2013 and hit a pumper truck so hard that it moved the vehicle three feet and caused $30,000 in damage, Adler had it towed to a shop that he now works with regularly. “This shop is second to none, and that truck was still out almost two months,” he said.

 

Meanwhile, Johnson Equipment currently performs repairs on Leonard’s Express trucks involved in collisions less than 500 miles from Farmington. Work on trucks involved in more distant crashes is outsourced to shops in those areas.

 

Now, however, Johnson Equipment is building a collision repair shop at Leonard’s Express. The new shop will house a paint booth and frame-straightening equipment, and employ up to six repair professionals. Adriaansen of Leonard’s Express said, “It’s being built to keep as much of the Leonard’s Express collision work in-house as possible, to turn the equipment around quicker and help control costs at the same time.”

 

“With the addition of this shop, we’ll be able to do virtually all our repairs in-house,” he said.

 

Johnson Equipment also does collision work for other fleets, and Adriaansen sees the trend increasing.

 

“If you’re not going to do collision repairs internally, you need to partner with someone who’ll help you,” he said. “More fleets, especially larger ones, are doing this so they can get their equipment back on the road faster and mitigate some costs internally.”

 

So quickly are the components and design of heavy-duty trucks changing that Chris Sterwerf, chief finance and operations officer at Fairfield Auto and Truck Service in Fairfield, Ohio, said large body shops are starting to employ full-time research-­and-repair planners.

 

“Traditionally, shops had one technician to handle a truck from beginning to end,” said Sterwerf. “But now the work is so sophisticated that you need an expert to disassemble and a repair planner to watch and work alongside with a computer, looking up repair information.”


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