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Wednesday, 20 June 2012 21:24

Texas Hail Storms Cause High Insured Losses

It does not make drivers in Texas happy when they just get their car back from an auto body shop after getting repairs from the latest hail storm, only to have it damaged again as more baseball-size pieces of ice fall from the sky.

Such is the case for some unlucky drivers in the Dallas area as two storm systems pummeled several cities in the area with hail ranging in size from a golf ball to a baseball.

“We’ve had enough,” says Mark Hanna, spokesman for the Insurance Council of Texas (ICT). “Here we go with another high-loss event.”

Vehicles were one of the biggest victims of a hail storm that hit Dallas on June 13.  The next day, damaged cars started rolling into auto body and repair shops.

Manager Bobby Lee of Hance Paint and Body spent much of his day on the phone talking to people trying to get their vehicles into his shop.

“It’s been non-stop.  Yeah, it’s been non-stop,” said Lee.

The small, independent shop had seven cars dropped off by midday with dozens more already scheduled.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012 21:17

New Service King in San Antonio

Service King Collision Repair Centers is expanding its presence in the San Antonio area with the purchase of Bordelon Collision in Spring Branch, north of San Antonio.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012 21:15

Louisiana Towing Bill Signed by Governor

A bill that allows police to tow cars of drivers lacking insurance coverage on a first offense was signed by Gov. Bobby Jindal on June 5 and goes into effect on August 1, 2012.

HB 1053 repeals current law that prohibits officers from towing cars of first–time violators of the compulsory insurance law and allows towing only on second and subsequent offenses. State senators passed the bill on May 24 with a 28–3 vote. The state House passed the bill by an 82–7 vote on April 25.

After the bill’s approval by senators, Speaker of the House Chuck Kleckley signed off on the latest version agreed upon by the state House and Senate, before sendings the legislation to Gov. Bobby Jindal for final consideration.

The bill, supported by the Louisiana State Police, aims to help bring down the number of uninsured drivers in the state by returning to harsher enforcement of the law, according to Rep. Ray Garafalo (R- Meraux), who authored the legislation.

The Repairer Driven Education (RDE) series, presented by the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS), is returning to the SEMA Show for the third consecutive year. With courses individually selected or crafted by the SCRS, the program includes nearly two dozen sessions taking place during the SEMA Show Tuesday-Friday, October 30–November 2, 2012, in Las Vegas. The headline session, “Game Changers–Innovation Forum,” takes place November 2 and features industry leaders discussing what innovation can look like in the collision repair business and how it’s becoming core to business strategy. Other sessions explore how digital marketing, social media and related tools can increase customer retention and loyalty, and how new metals being used in the construction of today’s vehicles are impacting the repair process.

Two schools in Arizona and California are prepping the future of the industry.

In Mesa, AZ., the collision repair program at The East Valley Institute of Technology is the state’s only high school-level coursework certified by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation, the independent non-profit based in Leesburg, VA. Since 1983, secondary and post-secondary automotive-training programs in 50 states have been accredited through NATEF standards.

Some recent controversy about who is a BMW certified training center and why, prompted us to look into exactly what the requirements are for dealerships to gain certification. There are no “authorized” repair centers and only dealerships can become BMW Certified Collision Repair Center (CCRC). At present there are only 69 CCRCs in the US, and only nine in California.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012 20:57

ASA Testifies at Texas Tax Law Hearing

The Automotive Service Association (ASA) testified before the Ways and Means Commission in Austin, Texas, June 5, regarding what it feels is an inequity in the current Texas Franchise Tax code.

Denise Caspersen, ASA’s Collision Division manager; Charles Parker, executive director of ASA-Texas; John Firm, AAM, president of ASA-Texas and owner of Firm Automotive in Fort Worth; and John Miller, owner of Freedom Automotive in Stafford, were all present at the hearing. ASA members from Texas who testified included Vince Oliva, owner of Vin’s Paint and Body Mid Co. Inc. in Nederland, and Vin’s Paint and Body Inc. in Beaumont; Johnny Bang, owner of Johnny Bangs and Bumps Shop Inc. in Tomball; and Danny Sullivan, owner of Sullivan Advanced Auto Care in Kingwood.

If passed, House Bill 429 and its companion, Senate Bill 476, would allow automotive repair shops to be taxed the same amount that dealers, parts stores and tire stores are now taxed.

“The independently owned automotive repair and collision businesses in Texas are being denied equal treatment under the law,” said Parker. “Automotive repair and collision shops owned and operated by new or used car dealerships are taxed at half the rate used to tax the independently owned businesses doing identical work. This is justified in the tax code by classifying dealership sales as ‘retail’ and allowing their service and repair business to be included under that banner.

“Furthermore, repair shops operated by tire companies (NTW, Firestone, Goodyear), parts stores (Pep Boys) and mass-merchandisers (Sears, Wal-Mart, Target) are also charged at half the rate paid by independent repair shops. We should not be taxed at a rate different than a business performing an identical service. We should not be denied the true cost of our product by disallowing our skilled labor.”

Added Caspersen, “We were very pleased with the number of ASA members who took time away from their businesses to attend the hearing and demonstrate how important it is to change the current franchise tax law in Texas. We ask other shop owners in Texas to take the time to contact their legislators asking them to support ASA’s efforts.”

Mitchell honored collision repair facilities from throughout the U.S. and Canada with the 10th annual AutocheX(TM) Premier Achiever Awards, hosted "virtually" for the first time on the exclusive Premier Achiever Award website. The Premier Achiever Awards recognize top-performing auto body repair shops throughout the U.S. and Canada, celebrating exceptional customer service and satisfaction achievements.

The class of 2011 Premier Achievers includes top-performing collision repair facilities of all sizes across the U.S. and Canada. In an industry of nearly 50,000 North American shops, these winning shops qualified among the 400 exclusive Premier Achiever Award recipients. Since the award program was launched in 2002, AutocheX has presented over 3,000 Premier Achiever Awards to industry-leading collision repair facilities. The award is based on customer satisfaction scores as measured by AutocheX, either independently or as part of an insurance-sponsored repair program. This year, participating insurance programs included seven of the top 25 carriers in North America.

With the exception of a hot automotive industry, job growth in Alabama’s hard-hit manufacturing sector trails most other states as the anemic economic recovery struggles to take hold, economists said recently.

While Alabama had 239,400 manufacturing jobs in March, the highest level since October 2009, it remains far below the pre-recession peak of 297,800 in January 2007, figures from the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations show. Factory jobs fell by 100 last month to 239,300.

Diana Gauthier, Parts Manager for Stew Hansen Dodge Ram Chrysler Jeep in Urbandale, Iowa, wrote an open letter intended for all collision repairers in the state of Iowa.

All who may be questioning our intent can rest at ease. Stew Hansen Dodge Ram Chrysler Jeep will not participate in PartsTrader.

The National Auto Body Council (NABC) announced it has received board approval to help Operation Comfort’s Automotivation program secure a new facility in which it can continue to help disabled U.S. service members and their families through the instruction and practice of proper collision repair.

Located in San Antonio, Texas, Operation Comfort complements the rehabilitation efforts carried out by the U.S. Army at the Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC). As a form of occupational therapy, the organization runs the Automotivation program through which disabled veterans, in many cases those that have lost one or more limbs, are rehabilitated through automotive-related activities such as rebuilding and restoring cars, trucks, and motorcycles.

It is difficult for most of us to imagine leading a productive life without a car at our immediate disposal, yet the United States Bureau of Transportation estimates that over 15 million Americans have difficulty getting the transportation they need.

This fact illustrates a great need for something most of us take for granted, and for this reason, the National Auto Body Council (NABC) is pleased to announce that the lives of two deserving Florida families were changed forever during the CCC Industry Conference which took place on May 17 at the Sawgrass Marriott in Jacksonville, Florida.

The families received the gift of reliable transportation through Recycled Rides®, a national initiative through which National Auto Body Council members—men and women putting their superior craftsmanship to benevolent use—refurbish donated vehicles and gift them to families in need and organizations dedicated to assisting others.

The Canton Nissan plant in Mississippi began making the Altima back in 2004, and now its employees will work on the new, fifth-generation model, as the 2013 model year car has begun rolling off the line.

The Canton plant, which also builds body-on-frame trucks, has put full priority on the 2013 Altima, building it in three shifts.

The new 2013 model year midsize sedan is actually based on the old model’s platform, but it has been heavily restyled and modified.

The base 2013 Altima comes with a 2.5-liter 182hp inline-four, starting at $21,500 and the top-of-the line model gets a 3.5-liter V6, in SL trim, it will grab just over $30,000.

“Today’s successful start of production of the Nissan Altima, our top-selling vehicle, only can happen because of the support of our dedicated workforce in Canton,” said Bill Krueger, vice chairman, Nissan Americas. “The Canton team builds among the highest-quality vehicles in the industry, and we are looking forward to bringing their production expertise to the next generation of this award-winning car.”

Honda is adding the Acura MDX sport utility to the production lineup in Alabama next year, and the move will open up a new export market for the Lincoln plant’s products.

Some of the MDX vehicles made at the plant will be shipped to China, said Tom Shoupe, head of Honda’s Alabama operations.

A small percentage of the plant’s vehicles, now Odyssey minivans, Pilot SUVs and Ridgeline pickups, are exported each year to markets including the Middle East, South America and Central America. Pilots are also shipped to Russia.

The MDX, now produced at a Honda plant in Canada, has been exported to China for several years in small numbers, so that will continue after the production switch. Last year, 485 MDX vehicles were shipped to China, Honda spokesman Ed Miller said.

The SUV is sold in the United States. The MDX move will give Honda more room in Canada to build the popular CR-V SUV. Acura is Honda’s luxury vehicle division, and the MDX will be the first Acura product built in Alabama.

The Boyd Group Inc. announced June 4 the opening of a collision repair center in Orlando, Florida which commenced operations on May 30, 2012 as well as the acquisition of another new location in Jessup, Maryland on May 25, 2012.

Both repair centers will operate under the Gerber Collision & Glass trade name. This brings the total number of U.S. locations in operation to 141 with two additional locations acquired, soon to be in operation.

The new Orlando repair center, originally acquired on March 22, 2012 and previously known as Leading Edge Collision, is approximately 10,000 square feet in size, with 6,500 square feet of production space.

Florida is a market Gerber first entered in January, and this latest center bolsters the number of locations operating in this market to nine locations. Orlando, the fifth largest city in Florida, is considered an attractive market by the company.

The new Jessup repair center, the eighth in Maryland, was previously known as ACI Auto Collision and is approximately 13,000 square feet in size, of which 11,000 square feet is production space.

Three more members of Congress have signed on as co-sponsors of federal legislation (HR 3889) that would reduce the time automakers can use design patents to prevent other companies from producing replacement crash parts. Reps. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Walter Jones (R-NC) and Dennis Ross (R-FL) are now supporting the bill, backed by insurers and non-OEM parts manufacturers and distributors, that would reduce patent protection for OEM parts from 14 years to just 2.5 years. Supporting the bill are numerous aftermarket organizations, including the Quality Parts Coalition who issued a statement saying, in part: “American drivers currently have access to alternative auto replacement parts that can save them between 26–50% when repairing their cars after an accident. But car companies are trying to force consumers to buy their parts only and eliminate the competition. Car companies have been acquiring U.S. design patents on exterior auto repair parts—such as hoods, bumper covers and mirrors—and enforcing them against independent suppliers who have been selling these more affordable and quality alternative parts for more than 60 years.”

A law restricting texting while driving was approved by Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, and it may have insurance implications for drivers who violate the ban after it takes effect.

Fines for using a hand-held device to text behind the wheel will be $25 for first-time violators, $50 for a second offense and $75 for the third and any subsequent violations. For each violation, the law will also institute a two-point penalty against a driver’s record, which auto insurance companies may be able to view as lawful justification for insurance-rate hikes.

The law goes into effect on Aug. 1, 2012.

“Signing this bill sends a message that drivers need to focus on driving, not on sending a text,” Gov. Bentley said in a statement. “There is nothing so urgent that it is worth risking your life, or the lives of others, by sending a text message while you are driving down the road.”

Wednesday, 20 June 2012 20:24

Geico Settles Lawsuit with Gunder’s

Gunder’s Auto Center announced that GEICO has elected to settle a lawsuit Gunder’s filed on behalf of their customer rather than concede to deposition of their claims representatives.

Upon deeming the customer’s vehicle a total loss and disputing Gunder’s billing for incurred charges (including a parts return fee), GEICO elected to post what is referred to as a “bond” through the county courts in the amount of Gunder’s billing ($972), which allowed GEICO to then take possession of the customer’s vehicle. As required, GEICO provided full payment of the disputed amount to the Clerk of Courts and was issued a “bond,” which legally required Gunder’s Auto Center to relinquish the vehicle along with their possessory lien on that vehicle.

Anger over the proposed State Farm PartsTrader program revived a sleeping giant in Mississippi, revitalizing the previously dormant Mississippi Collision Repair Association, which met on May 23 for the first time in many years.

“Due to many factors, our association as been inactive for almost eight years,” said Chad Smith, treasurer of the Mississippi Collision Repair Association and co-owner of Smith Bros. Collision Center with two locations in Brookhaven and McComb. “But the new State Farm program has re-ignited our association’s fire!”

The years may have gone by in comfort and complacency, but the controversy and negativity surrounding the State Farm Proposed Parts Procurement Program within its Select Service Program changed all that. More than 100 MCRA members, as well as Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood and John Wells of the Mississippi Department of Insurance, came together in Pearl, Miss. to hear what body shop owners from Birmingham, AL had to say about the PartsTrader program. Birmingham is one of the four national test markets where the PartsTrader program is being tested.

Several Birmingham, AL auto body shops have dropped State Farm rather than be forced to use its new PartsTrader procurement software within its Select Service Program. Auto body shops in Birmingham are located in one of four test markets where the pilot PartsTrader program, an online parts ordering/bidding software system developed by a New Zealand firm, is being tested.

Usage of the PartsTrader software has been required by State Farm in four test markets nationwide: Tucson, AZ, Birmingham, AL, Grand Rapids, Mich. and Charlotte, NC. Approximately 10 percent of State Farm Select Service shops are participating in the pilot.

According to a report released by the Automotive Services Association (ASA), 17 Select Service shops in Birmingham, AL, removed themselves from the program prior to any registration or use of the application.

Ford and State Farm Insurance announced that they have established an agreement that could offer lower insurance premiums to Ford drivers.

The California Department of Insurance has released its proposed regulations on "standards for repair and use of aftermarket parts." The proposed changes to the Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations largely pertain to the specification and use of aftermarket parts, but also include new requirements for adjusting estimates as well as new consumer disclosures and increased insurer responsibilities in the event a defective part is used for a repair.

The first change adds more specific requirements for estimates written by insurers. Current law simply requires insurers to write an estimate that will allow the repairs to be made in "a workmanlike manner."

The newly proposed sections of law would require insurer-written repair estimates to be in accordance with "accepted trade standards for good and workmanlike automotive repairs by an auto body repair shop," and require that "An insurer shall not prepare an estimate that is less favorable to the claimant than the standards, costs, and guidelines provided by the estimating software."

In addition, the changes would mandate that insurers disclose in writing, on any insurer-prepared estimate that specifies aftermarket parts, that they warrant those parts as "like kind, quality, safety, fit, and performance" as OEM parts.

Another new requirement would provide that should an insurer have "implied, actual, or constructive knowledge" that a specified aftermarket parts is not equal to the OEM parts in terms of quality, safety, fit, and performance, the insurer shall immediately cease specifying the use of these parts and shall notify the estimating software provider and request this part be removed from the estimating software.

The insurer would likewise be required to notify the distributor, manufacturer, and, if applicable, any certifying entity.

In addition, the insurer specifying a part later found to be defective would be responsible for any costs associated with removing and replacing the part with either a compliant non-OEM part or an OEM part.

The Department of Insurance held stakeholder meetings to review the proposal in November and January. Additional changes to state regulations regarding labor rate surveys and prevailing rates are also being considered by the department. Revisions to those regulations have not yet been released by the Department.

Caliber Collision employees at each of the company’s 12 locations in the San Diego area are launching a two-week food drive to help ensure supplies are plentiful throughout the summer for those in need through Feeding America – San Diego. Caliber employees are urging its customers and the public to contribute a variety of non-perishable food items at any of its auto body repair facilities during its “Rhythm Restoration Food Drive" through June 29.

The company has pledged to match a $1 donation for every single item of food or clothing contributed. Most of Caliber’s 107 auto body repair centers throughout California, Texas, Arizona and Nevada are simultaneously collecting items for food banks in their local communities.

“We’re very proud that our associates are in the driver’s seat on this valuable effort to make a difference in their local communities,” said David Goldstein, Caliber Collision’s Senior Vice President – Operations. “Our company’s mission is to restore the rhythm of our customers’ lives, and we hope the public will help us do the same for others in need in the San Diego area.”

According to Jennifer Gilmore, Executive Director of Feeding America – San Diego (FASD), in addition to the donated goods, for each $1 cash contribution FASD can provide six meals for local families.

“Caliber Collision’s contribution of cash and volunteer service provides much-needed support during the critical summer period,” Gilmore said. “So many children are able to receive regular meals through their school lunch programs but with school out, their families need help. We are grateful for Caliber’s support to help make sure kids across the San Diego region do not go hungry during the summer.”

Suggested donations include non-perishable food items in cans or plastic bottles. Caliber Collision and Feeding America – San Diego are not able to accept glass, open containers, homemade or expired items.

Donations can be dropped off at any of the following Caliber Collision Centers in San Diego area:
Carlsbad, 6050 Avenida Encinas, 760.602.0055
El Cajon-North Johnson, 332 North Johnson Avenue, 619.440.8008
Escondido, 2040 West Mission Road, 760.741.5474
Kearny Mesa – Dagget, 7515 Dagget Street, 858.569.9633
La Mesa, 8310 Center Dr., 619.337.8260
Miramar, 6598 Miramar Rd., 858.453.3800
Murrieta, 4141 Pear Street, 951.677.3533
National City, 2013 Haffley Avenue, 619.474.8228
Oceanside, 4156 Avenida De La Plata, 760.414.1518
Pacific Beach, 2274 Garnet Ave., 858.274.4133
San Diego –Downtown, 2101 Kettner Blvd., 619.231.6986
San Marcos, 1435 Grand Ave., 760.744.9387

The Amador County District Attorneys Office, in conjunction with the Calaveras County District Attorneys Office,  obtained a “no contest” plea to a single count of insurance fraud from a body shop owner in Valley Springs, CA, as a result of an investigation.

Larry Robbins, owner of Franks Frame and Body Shop, was sentenced to 36 months felony probation, 60 hours of community service, ordered to surrender his Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) license and pay approximately $28,000 in restitution.

The investigation involved post repair inspections of vehicles repaired by Robbin’s shop, Franks Frame and Body Shop, 127 Main Street, Valley Springs, California. Farmers Insurance, SIU Major Operations Unit, conducted post repair inspections on Farmers insured vehicles and supplied the inspection documentation to the Amador County District Attorneys Office and California Bureau of Automotive Repair for investigation. In 2011, The California Attorney General, on behalf of the Bureau of Automotive Repair, filed formal accusations, alleging; fraud, misleading statements and departure from accepted trade standards.

“This case illustrates the cost of fraud for Auto Repair shops and owners. The shop owner has been ordered to surrender his BAR license and pay significant restitution,” stated Sean Zavala, Farmers Director of Special Investigations. “We will assist law enforcement on criminal matters and file our own civil actions when appropriate to deter anyone who submits false insurance claim.  It is our commitment to our policyholders to protect their premium dollars,” Zavala added.

In a separate case, Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, in conjunction with the California Highway Patrol Insurance Fraud Task Force served Santa Clara shop owner Dong Suk Choi with an arrest warrant on one felony count of Insurance Fraud.

The investigation involved the re-inspection of one vehicle previously repaired by Choi’s repair shop, Choice Auto Body at 1975 Lafayette Street in Santa Clara, California. The re-inspection was conducted by Farmers Insurance, Major Operations Unit in cooperation with an Investigator from the California Highway Patrol Insurance Fraud Task Force, Golden Gate Division ISU. The Investigators found that Choi had not completed the repairs according to the agreed upon estimates including the repair of items that were written to be replaced in the insurance estimates.

Farmers says it applauds the efforts of the Santa Clara District Attorney’s Offices and  the Amador and Calaveras County District Attorneys Offices and the California, Bureau of Automotive Repair for their ongoing efforts in the fight against insurance fraud.

AutoBody America, a Nashville, Tenn.-based operator of collision repair facilities in Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas, announced the appointment of Will Johnston to the position of president. Johnston will also continue to serve as chief financial officer while Pat James will remain the company’s chief executive officer.

Johnston is a graduate of Duke University, where he studied economics, business management and marketing. After working in the process design department of Andersen Consulting, he was hired by AutoBody America, Inc., in 1999 to help create a scalable process and technology model. In 2006, he accepted an offer from Pat James to join him as an equity partner and has since been promoted from vice president to chief operating officer and chief financial officer. Johnston grew up and still resides in Nashville with his wife, Irish, and their children, Jake and Harper.

AutoBody America currently has 19 locations throughout Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas with plans to continue accelerating their growth. Interested parties are welcome to e-mail pjames@autobodyamerica.com for further information.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012 16:53

G&C AutoBody Adds Two More Locations

The impact of a tough economy has totaled a number of North Bay automobile body repair shops, but it hasn’t seriously dented growth plans for G&C AutoBody, which has about doubled its number of locations in the past few years.

to read article go HERE

A proposal to allow auto body shops to sue insurance companies that do not pay them what they believe they should be compensated for repairs generated a fiery, hour-long debate on the floor of the state House of Representatives on June 11.

Supporters, including Rep. Stephen Ucci, a Johnston Democrat and the bill's sponsor, repeated the mantra that the bill would "level the playing field" between local auto body shops and auto insurance companies and ultimately be good for Rhode Island drivers.

But other lawmakers voiced concern that the proposal would only lead to higher auto insurance rates in Rhode Island, which already has among the highest rates in the nation.

Rep. Robert Watson, R-East Greenwich, called the proposal "special interest legislation" put together "on the fly."

"This is why we deserve criticism," he said. "Nonsense like this plays out in the final days of the session. This is wrong."

The bill ultimately passed the 75-member chamber on a vote of 38 in favor and 20 against.

The Automotive Service Association (ASA) has announced a strategic partnership with Fix Auto USA that will give ASA member shops access to Fix Auto’s Collision Repair Experts (CRX) program.

CRX, a division of Fix Auto USA, provides collision repair shops with a suite of customizable marketing, office support and operational tools to streamline processes, promote consistent performance and increase revenue, ASA said.

Fix Auto’s CRX program, which currently has 135 members throughout the U.S., includes the following offerings:

• Group reporting on market performance and trends measurement
• Shop performance reporting and baselining
• Employee reporting and employee accountability reinforcement
• Call center support
• Marketing solutions, including online appointment scheduling and shop-specific search engine optimized Web pages on collisionrepairexperts.com
• Real-time customer follow-up during and after repairs

“ASA is happy to be able to offer our members this platform as an option to enhance their success. It not only has the potential to lead consumers to their door through multiple marketing tools, the benchmarking features of the CRX product will help our collision repair members understand their business at a statistical and comparative level,” said Ron Pyle president and CEO of ASA.

“Collision Repair Experts gives the body shop a set of tools and services usually associated with large corporate infrastructures, and it does so at a fraction of the price,” said Richard Pannazzo, director of sales and field operations for Fix Auto USA. “We’re excited to offer our CRX tools and services to ASA members, and look forward to a long, mutually beneficial partnership with the organization.”

For more information, or to register for the CRX program, visit collisionrepairexperts.com.

Summit Software and Marketing Solutions has announced the addition of an unsold estimate sales, follow up and communications service to its e-MarketPlace platform.

According to Summit, this service allows collision shops of any size to implement automated sales follow up communications using email, text messaging and/or phone app communications to increase closing ratios and sales.

Frank Terlep, CEO and "Lead Sherpa" for Summit commented, “Based on industry statistics, more than 30 percent of consumers that drive into an auto body shop for an estimate do not immediately agree to have their vehicle repaired. Most shops don't have the time or resources to call every unsold estimate. Secondly, in today’s world it’s difficult to connect with busy consumers via a phone call. Our e-MarketPlace unsold estimate sales and follow up service uses email, text messages and in-app communications to automate the entire unsold estimate process.”

Terlep continued, “Shops with $1.0 to $3.0 million in annual sales and a 70% closing ratio lose sales opportunities worth $299,000 to $900,000 a year respectively. It is proven that sales is a numbers game, and by simply following up with an email, text or an in-app communications to every unsold estimate we can improve a shop’s closing ratio by 2 to 15 percent.”

For more information, please contact Frank Terlep at 888-377-2661 ext. 110 or via email to fterlep@emarketingsherpas.com . You can also visit the e-Marketing Sherpa’s website at emarketingsherpas.com.

CARSTAR Auto Body Repair Experts has added eight new independent collision repair centers to its network in 2012, including the company’s first two locations in California.

CARSTAR said its new shop locations include the following:

• CARSTAR Grove Collision Center in Lemon Grove, Calif., owned by Michael French
• Crown Coachworks CARSTAR Auto Body in Los Angeles, owned by Jacob Dunkel
• Tyler’s CARSTAR Collision Center in Niles, Mich., owned by Scott and Chris Tyler
• Preferred Collision CARSTAR in Macon, Ga., owned by Walter Lee
• Memorial CARSTAR Collision in Houston, owned by Elias Michalopoulos
• CARSTAR Magic Auto Solutions in Redmond, Wash., owned by Gabriela Amaral
• CARSTAR Bothell Auto Rebuild in Bothell, Wash., owned by Kevin Parsons
• CARSTAR 911 Auto Centers in San Antonio, owned by Martin Gutierrez

CARSTAR operates more than 400 collision repair facilities throughout 31 U.S. states and 10 Canadian provinces. The company said its new franchisees are now able to participate in the company’s 19 corporately managed direct repair programs (DRPs), and will have improved purchasing power through 45 corporately managed purchasing programs.

"We are extremely pleased to welcome these new members to the CARSTAR MSO network," said David Byers, CEO of CARSTAR. "They all run great businesses and have strong histories of quality customer service. We're looking forward to building their business together, helping local car owners get back on the road with fast, reliable collision repairs, and giving back to the community at the same time."

The Boyd Group Inc. (the "Boyd Group") announced June 4 the opening of a collision repair center in Orlando, Florida, which commenced operations on May 30, 2012 as well as the acquisition of another new location in Jessup, Maryland on May 25, 2012.

Both repair centers will operate under the Gerber Collision & Glass trade name. This brings the total number of U.S. locations in operation to 141 with two additional locations acquired, soon to be in operation.

The new Orlando repair center, originally acquired on March 22, 2012 and previously known as Leading Edge Collision, is approximately 10,000 square feet in size, with 6,500 square feet of production space.

Florida is a market Gerber first entered in January, and this latest center bolsters the number of locations operating in this market to nine locations. Orlando, the fifth largest city in Florida, is considered an attractive market by the company.

The new Jessup repair center, the eighth in Maryland, was previously known as ACI Auto Collision and is approximately 13,000 square feet in size, of which 11,000 square feet is production space.

The Jessup center will help to bridge the territory between our Laurel and Dundalk repair centers and better serve vehicle owners and insurance partners in this area.

"With the opening of these two repair centers, we continue to strengthen our presence in Florida and Maryland, and execute our growth strategy in North America," said Tim O'Day, President and COO of the Boyd Group's U.S. operations. "In addition to these two new openings, we recently closed our Redmond, Washington location and opened a new Redmond location with expanded repair capacity to enhance our ability to serve customers in this market."

The Automotive Service Association (ASA) issued another press release about State Farm's plan to mandate use of the PartsTrader parts bidding system, sharing the findings of ASA's research into the topic.

ASA reports that there were 17 Select Service shops in Birmingham, AL, that removed themselves from the program last month.

ASA also reports that shops in the 4-city pilot are experiencing an estimated 30 minutes a day of increased administrative costs. "PartsTrader states this is true with any new system, but that over time, it will be more efficient and save time," ASA states.

"PartsTrader intends to contract an independent study to validate this." ASA also said repairers are particularly concerned that the system allows State Farm to see the discounted manufacturers' standard retail price being offered by dealerships using the system. "State Farm was made aware of this during the pilot process and reports it is seeking ways to address this," ASA states.

The Automotive Service Association’s (ASA) Collision Division Operations Committee also conducted an interview with Rob Cooper, CEO of PartsTrader, as part of its fact-gathering research on State Farm Insurance’s new electronic parts bidding and ordering pilot program through PartsTrader.

The ASA said its interview questions were focused on addressing the supplier selection, order process and data privacy through the program.

During the interview, Cooper highlighted various improvements that will be made to the PartsTrader platform in the near future, including technology integration with various segments of the industry, automatic estimate updates, a two-way rating system for repairers and parts suppliers to rate one another, parts returns tracking, and proactive updates regarding changes to privacy policies. He also addressed the development of a fee structure for the program that will apply to participating suppliers.

Cooper stated the following (in part):

“PartsTrader LLC is a privately funded company with a private group of shareholders who are private-equity backed. No one has an interest in the supply chain of parts or insurance companies. PartsTrader LLC’s goal is to deliver a unique value proposition to the repair industry to increase the efficiency of the market with supply chain improvements and to make sure that it is a ‘win-win’ for both suppliers and repairers.

“PartsTrader LLC has been working with State Farm to build an application to support the State Farm parts initiative. During the process, consultation has occurred—and continues to occur—with various segments of the industry, including repairers, suppliers, dealers and recyclers.

“Previously, PartsTrader LLC developed a product in New Zealand for parts location, which is different from the ordering application being piloted in the United States. The New Zealand system is for parts location and has a cost element visible to the insurer. This is not the case in the United States. State Farm is not able to access the buy price or cost price.

“Typically 85 percent to 90 percent of the supplier choices made by repairers have chosen to participate by registering and agreeing to PartsTrader’s terms and conditions in the first three [test] markets. The exception is the Birmingham market where there has been less adoption based on circumstance.

“PartsTrader LLC is currently in process of building ability for repairers to ‘rate’ the suppliers based on suppliers professionalism, accuracy of the information provided by the supplier, delivery time, quality of the part, good faith negotiations and part returns. This is also restated on the PartsTrader LLC website at partstrader.us.com. PartsTrader LLC also has the ability for the suppliers to rate the buyers (shops).

“[Fee structure] analysis is currently underway and whatever the fee structure, it has to work for the industry. The fee structure will apply to the suppliers, always free to the repairers.

“I wanted to reiterate that it is our intent and desire to ensure that PartsTrader delivers positive outcomes to the collision repair industry. To that end we are very open to feedback, and would like to work with ASA and other stakeholders in a positive way so that we may learn and address concerns as they are raised.”

Autobody News will be publishing much more on this subject in our July issue.

I-CAR has announced that early bird rates for the 2012 I-CAR Industry Event July 18-20 at the Hyatt Regency San Antonio on the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas, have now been extended through June 15.

Are you interested in hearing what various segments of the industry are doing to drive excellence industry-wide and business-specific? Hear what the experts have to say during the General Session at the 2012 I-CAR Industry Event. Topics will include how to achieve excellence in areas such as repair methods, business performance and professionalism. Join I-CAR and the rest of the collision inter-industry for this talk as well as a discussion about the impact of training on business performance. I-CAR will also respond to the industry's repair procedures request. Stick around the next day for Tech Clinics given by Chrysler, Honda and Audi.

This event is open to everyone in the collision repair inter-industry, including repairers, insurers, OEMs, career and technical schools, suppliers, advisors, I-CAR instructors and volunteers, etc.

And don't forget about the Collision Repair Education Foundation Golf Fundraiser on July 19 at the La Cantera Resort's The Palmer Course in San Antonio. Your contribution supports programs and scholarships for secondary and post-secondary collision students. Only eight spots are still available and will be filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. To register, e-mail Brandon Eckenrode at brandon.eckenrode@ed-foundation.org.

The MAK law firm has reported that, following a three-week jury trial, David Miller, an auto body shop owner who 10 years ago had been accused and then cleared of defrauding insurance companies, won a multi-million judgment against Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Company and Amica Mutual Insurance Company on May 29.

According to his attorney, Michael Kelly in Providence, the jury returned a verdict that found that Metropolitan and Amica had both intentionally withheld vital information during the course of Miller’s criminal prosecution and that the companies were “liable for an abuse of process.”

Monday, 11 June 2012 17:04

Fire Destroys Chicago Body Shop

An extra-alarm fire destroyed an auto body shop in the Southwest Side’s Archer Heights neighborhood.

As CBS 2’s Kris Habermehl reports, the fire broke out late Sunday night in the auto repair shop on the east side of the 5000 block of South Western Avenue.

to read more go HERE

Maaco Collision Repair & Auto Painting, a collision repair chain with 425 locations, will donate a $100,000 check to the Children’s Miracle Network.

Maaco, based in King of Prussia, PA, said the money will be used to support the Children’s Miracle Network’s work at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The donation will be presented to the Children’s Miracle Network June 13 at 6 p.m. EST during Maaco’s third annual golf outing—sponsored by DuPont, PPG and Sherwin-Williams—at the Spring Ford Country Club in Royersford, PA. Maaco’s president David Lapps, along with corporate executives, suppliers and employees from 23 Maaco franchises will present the check.

Maaco said it has been raising money for the donation throughout the year through car washes and other fundraising events. This is the third consecutive year that the company has made a donation to the Children’s Miracle Network. The company donated $25,000 in 2010, and $50,000 in 2011.

Monday, 11 June 2012 16:10

Louisiana Inmate Achieves Rare Honor

A Louisiana State Penitentiary inmate serving a life sentence for murder is making a name for himself for his self-taught achievement in the field of automotive mechanics.

Shelby J. Arabie, 49, was one of 12 people this year to qualify through the Institute of Automotive Service Excellence as a Triple Master in auto, truck and collision repair, with advanced certifications in gasoline and diesel engines.

About a dozen people each year qualify as Triple Masters, said Tony Molla, ASE vice president for communications.

Numerous severe thunderstorms pummeled Oklahoma in late May, a blessing and a curse for an area which desperately needs some rain, but could have done without the fist-size hail smashing car windows. Hailstones as large as 4.25 inches were reported by the National Weather Service on May 29.

A group of teenagers from Kansas City, MO are driving from the Pacific to the Atlantic in an electric-powered modified 1977 Lotus Espirit that they helped design and build. The drive is part of an “Electrifying Education Coast-to-Coast” trip.

The teens are national ambassadors for clean energy and for the industrious potential of the next generation.

“I was concerned we would not be able to go,” said 18-year-old Elias Williams, aware of some of the trials the volunteer organization Minddrive was going through to get the teens and their mentors on the road.

The severe weather that hit Oklahoma in late May could lead to Oklahoma insurance companies having to pay an estimated $400 million to cover insured property damage, according to an industry group.

At the same time, a major insurer has claimed that the high winds and hail were not considered to be catastrophic.

After damaging storms hit Oklahoma in late May, state Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak cleared the way for insurance companies to bring in additional claims adjusters.

Doak’s emergency declaration enables emergency claims adjusters to be licensed temporarily to expedite the insurance claims process and provide immediate assistance.

The move, Doak said, is designed “to help storm victims get the help they need quickly.”

Car enthusiasts from near and far gathered at Northeast Texas Community College May 30 to say goodbye to automotive legend Carroll Shelby.

The event was hosted by NTCC in conjunction with Team Shelby Texas. The evening began with car lovers gathering on the north side of Mount Pleasant for a memorial run. More than 45 Shelby vehicles participated in the memorial ride that included a drive by Mr. Shelby's home in Pittsburg.

Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak recently announced that a proposed new law paves the way for more insurance companies to do business in Oklahoma.

Senate Bill 1617, requested by Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak, caps the premium tax on captive insurance companies at $100,000. Captive insurance refers to a subsidiary corporation that provides insurance to the parent company and its affiliates. It allows corporations and groups to take financial control and manage risks by underwriting their own insurance rather than paying premiums to third-party insurers.

Moe Fawaz describes what happened Monday morning when gunfire suddenly pierced the air of his auto body shop in Detroit. “Everyone was screaming and running for their lives, basically. It’s like being in a war zone,” he said.

to read more go HERE

Now a local car garage is stepping up to make sure little Caylee Fleming, who has cerebral palsy and sight impairment, gets the equipment she needs. Greg's Auto Body and Sales at 500 New Haven Ave. in Milford, is holding a car wash fundraiser ...

to read more go HERE


Andy's Auto Body is working on a food drive for Community Hope Center and preparing for its annual golf tourney to benefit 5As. The Andy's Auto Body Golf Tourney For 5As is set for Saturday, Aug. 4, at Rolling Hills Golf Course in ...

to read more go HERE


Friday, 08 June 2012 19:42

Alabama's Economy Shrank Last Year

Alabama's economy performed worse than almost every state's last year, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The agency said Alabama's economy, as measured by gross domestic product, contracted 0.8 percent in 2011, worse than every state except Mississippi and Wyoming. GDP is the broadest measure of an economy, measure all goods and services produced. Alabama's GDP figure in 2011 was $150.33 billion, lower than the figure for 2008.

The BEA said 43 states managed GDP gains in 2011, led by North Dakota with a 7.6 percent gain. The states averaged a gain of 1.5 percent, down from 3.1 percent in 2010.

Wyoming's economy was weakest in 2011, shrinking 1.2 percent. Mississippi was No. 49, with a contraction of 0.8 percent. Alabama was No. 48.

Alabama's dismal performance last year was better than in 2009, when the state's economy shrank by 5 percent. In 2010, it expanded by 2.3 percent, the BEA says.

Gadsden State Community College students continued their winning tradition at the Alabama SkillsUSA Leadership Conference recently in Birmingham.

Seven gold medals, four silver medals and four bronze medals were awarded to students from the Ayers, East Broad and Valley Street campuses.

The gold medal winners will advance to the 48th annual National Leadership and Skills Conference, a showcase of career and technical education students, on June 23-27 in Kansas City, Mo.

More than 22,000 people have applied for 877 new jobs at Hyundai's Montgomery auto plant, with the majority of applicants coming from south-central Alabama.

The final tally of applica­tions was 22,508, according to officials at the plant. Now the pool is being whittled down through diagnostic testing, interviews and hands-on assessments.

The South Korean auto­maker is adding a third shift there to meet growing de­mand for its products.

Friday, 08 June 2012 17:57

Trio in Armed Robbery Ring Convicted

A federal jury convicted Emmanuel Duran, 28, Raheem Brown, 24, and John Bowie, 23, of the armed robberies of pharmacies in Philadelphia between February and May 2010 and convicted Duran and Brown of robbing the A&G Auto Body at 2015 N. 19th Street in Philadelphia. All of the defendants were convicted of conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery, conspiracy to distribute the narcotics they sold, and related weapons offenses.

Pohanka Collision Centers opened its 10th location in Clinton, Md.

Pohanka Collision Centers said its new 13,800-square-foot BMW-certified facility, located near St. Andrews Air Force Base, will serve the communities that surround the southern tip of the Capital Beltway in Maryland.

The company now operates six collision repair facilities in Virginia and four in Maryland.

Grand Sport Auto Body & Glass has expanded with 8 new locations starting in West Chester and now covering a wide area throughout Chester and Montgomery Counties.

Grand Sport Auto has been providing auto collision repair services for over 25 years as the first body shop to open in West Chester, Pennsylvania in 1982. This is where their business got started with the philosophy of taking it one customer at a time. Fred Gunther, the founder and president of Grand Sport Auto, takes great pride in servicing his customers with the highest quality workmanship and exceptional experience.

The primary goal is to handle customers’ requirements and meet their individual needs. If repairs are paid out of pocket, the staff at Grand Sport will work to develop a plan that meets not only the budget but the expectations of the clients as well. If an insurance company pays for the repairs, Grand Sport will assist in handling any claims directly, making the entire process hassle-free for our clients.

At Grand Sport Auto, all of our auto body repairs and glass repairs are backed by a lifetime warranty. By upgrading to the latest advancements in automotive technologies, they can provide customers with the latest techniques.

For more information, contact one of Grand Sport’s Chester County, Montgomery County or West Chester, PA locations today 866-203-3018.

The Philadelphia District Attorney has announced that a major interstate cocaine trafficking ring, with connections to the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico, has been broken up.

The DAs office began the investigation in February following a tip from an informant that several garages and auto body shops thoughout the city were equipping vehicles with compartments to hide and transport drugs.

The vehicles would go to New York, pick up shipments of cocaine, and return to Philadelphia.

The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded Middletown a $200,000 hazardous substances grant to clean up the former Midstate Autobody property at 1 Kings Avenue.

The auto repair and auto body shop operated from 1924-2009 behind Eli Cannon’s Tap Room, according to the mayor’s office. The auto body shop left behind solvents, motor and hydraulic oils on the grounds and chemical testing has revealed inorganic contaminants and metals in the building.

Nissan is supplying New York City with fuel-efficient cabs, including six electric cars for testing, but acknowledged uncertainties about an ongoing “debate” over charging standards for electric vehicles.

The battle in fast-charging stations, the equivalent of gasoline stands for electric vehicles, is threatening to turn into a futuristic replay of other major platform wars like VHS of Panasonic vs. Sony’s Beta in video.

Four brothers are accused of assaulting employees of a body shop and a tire business in Monterey County.

According to the Monterey County Sheriff's Office, Jorge Mendoza and his three younger brothers, Jaime, Oscar and Damian, entered Joe's Body Shop on Salinas Road in Pajaro just before 5 p.m. Traffic came to a halt heading into Pajero as workers at the auto body shop fended off the would-be robbers.

A 22-year-old Fresno man was arrested May 25 on suspicion of stealing a restored 1951 Chevrolet truck after crashing the pickup with police in pursuit.

Officers responded to a call about 2:15 a.m. from a security guard who was following a man in the truck stolen from an auto body shop at 1497 N. Blackstone Ave., police said

As officers tried to stop the truck, the vehicle sped onto northbound Highway 99 at Olive Avenue. The driver attempted to exit at the Shaw Avenue offramp, but instead crash the truck into an embankment.

The truck caught on fire, forcing officers to break a window to free the suspect, who resisted arrested. The suspect reportedly stole another vehicle and vandalized others at the dealership.

He was treated at Community Regional Medical Center for minor injuries and then booked into the Fresno County jail.

The man was arrested on charges that included two counts of stealing a vehicle, six counts of vandalism and a count of resisting arrest, along with outstanding warrants.