Thursday, 23 June 2011 09:09

Auto Recyclers Host Prominent Collision Repairers in Panel Discussion

Written by Janet Chaney

URG, the United Recyclers Group, hosted a Body Shop Panel Discussion at their 2011 annual conference in Englewood, CO, April 15.  A lot of common ground was discovered in this URG panel discussion, which was acknowledged by everyone in the room. The hour-long panel discussion was effective in its goal of honest dialogue discussing needs and opportunities between these two industries. All stakeholders want to do better business and the repairers and recyclers would like to do business better, together. Over 800 recyclers attended the two-day event.

“We have grown (our industries) together  from mom and pop organizations to the large conglomerates we are today,” said Clark Plucinski, Executive Vice-President of Sales and Marketing at True 2 Form—which recently became a part of the Boyd Group/Gerber collision repair chain. Plucinski reminded everyone in the room that “We are now all inter-connected in business-to-business relationships.” In resolving difficulties, Plucinski asked for patience. “These processes are working, but it is like pushing a rock up a hill [which keeps rolling back]. We just have to be patient and keep doing the same thing.”

Gary Boesel, owner and operator of two CARSTAR collision repair centers in the Denver area, concurred. “[Things have evolved] over the years and are different than they used to be,” saying that somewhere, somehow, collision repairers and recyclers quit effectively communicating.

Facilitator Don Porter, of State Farm Insurance opened up the discussion, asking panelists to introduce themselves and say a little about their business. Porter made sure the audience of recyclers was involved,  saying “You don’t have to be nice to me—just be nice to these people,” referring to the collision repairer panelists.

Everyone on the panel shared almost the same story about the ‘condition’ of parts and on-time delivery dates. In today’s collision repair market, shops are measured (by insurers) by what proportion of alternative parts they use, cost effectiveness, and most importantly—cycle time. Cycle time was recognized by this panel as the most critical component in their business operations today. If a used part is delivered to a shop that is expecting an undamaged part and they receive a part with undisclosed damage, that is a significant cost to everybody.

Bill Abold, of A&P Auto Recycling in Cicero, New York, shared the frustration he and other recyclers experience. “We work with our collision customers, train our staff, but when parts are found electronically and the price is the lowest common denominator, then the shop is going to get that cheapest part and they are not going to accept it. We then have to work through the price difference with the shop and the insurance company. That doesn’t work for anyone.” This statement triggered an ovation from the 300 attendees in the room.

There is the beginning of a solution available that could reduce the ‘condition’ problem. The Automotive Recycling Association, in concert with CIECA, has developed a standard set of damage codes to be used by repairers and recyclers. They are established and accepted, through CIECA, by both industries. However, the panel came to the conclusion that no one is using them.

The participating panelists, who represent a very large segment of the collision industry, reported that they found no one actually using the damage codes and few people knew about them. Repairers noted that condition codes on parts found through third party locaters had no meaning to them at all. The Damage Code information discussion was positive for both groups, recognizing that they have something to work towards.

Gary Wano, owner/operator of G.W. and Son Auto Body in Oklahoma City, OK, said, “Have a little patience with us please, sometimes our concept of a usable part may be different than your sales staff’s,  but we are working on this.”

Tim Adelman, Executive Vice President of Business Development for ABRA Auto Body and Glass, shared these first quarter 2011 statistics from 100 ABRA locations. On a scale from 1–10, 10 being the highest, measuring overall CSI, OEM scored 9 and Recyclers scored 7.5. For overall quality of parts received, Recyclers: 7.4, Accuracy of the Part, Recyclers: 8.2 and On-Time Delivery, Recyclers: 6.8. “We survey parts people for supplier improvement opportunities,” explained Adelman.

For the shops on the panel, relationships with a good quality recycler was the most important criteria. Shops are looking for a good product and want it to be delivered on time. “The goal at our shop is to spend less time on the phone and on email,” said Dan Stander, General Manager of Fix Auto Highlands Ranch. “It is more time effective and we don’t have any confusion about descriptions.”

The formal panel ended but dialogue continued throughout the halls most of the day. Bob Jones, owner-operator of R Jones Body Pros, in Des Moines, Iowa, put it succinctly, “You guys want to sell us the correct part and we want to buy the correct part.”

The inter-industry communication initiated at the April meeting should help collision repair and auto recycling industries start working for the common goal: better business for everybody.

More on the Panelists’ Credentials
The credentials of the panelists brought together by the URG was impressive.

In 2010, Boesel was selected as Small Business Person of the Year by the Aurora, CO, Chamber of Commerce and he sits on the CARSTAR National Advisory Board.

Wano’s family owned business is a Mercedes Benz, Jaguar, and Volvo Certified shop. He is Immediate Past Chair of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) and in 2008 was Body Shop Business’ Executive of the Year.

Dan Stander is ASA’s National Collision Division Director.

Both Bob Jones and Clark Plucinski are Collision Industry Conference, “Hall of Eagles” members.

Jones is a founding member and past Chairman of SCRS. Plucinski serves on numerous Industry Boards and was voted Body Shop Business’ Collision Shop Executive of the Year in 1996.

Tim Adelman now leads ABRA’s industry relations and serves on numerous industry advisory boards.