Wednesday, 31 October 2007 17:00

Same Game, New Level with the Hardcore Knight Project

Written by Rich Evans
The clock on the Huntington Beach Bodyworks web site is counting down to SEMA. Did I bite off more than I can chew when committing to such a large project with a SEMA deadline?
Sunday, 30 September 2007 17:00

CP Air Compressor Give Away at SEMA 2007

Written by Rich Evans

The Chicago Pneumatic Quiet Rotary Screw Air Compressor is what we use here at Huntington Beach Bodyworks to power everything from tools and airbrushes to inflating tires, painting and cleaning. Designed to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it pays for itself in short order.

Friday, 31 August 2007 17:00

Quick Cut Sanders Make Paint Finishing a Snap

Written by Rich Evans

When the automobile was first mass produced, it spawned several different industries, including our own auto body industry. No sooner did cars come off the assembly line, then individuals began souping them up and changing their appearance – bringing forth the custom auto body industry as well.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007 17:00

Making aftermarket parts work for your project

Written by Rich Evans

If you are repairing an older vehicle or restoring a classic car, it is not always possible to obtain an OEM part or the cost may be prohibitive. This is where aftermarket parts can really help a lot. As you know, OEM parts are those made by the original manufacturer of the parts your vehicle came with. Aftermarket parts include everything outside of that – made by an independent manufacturer who intended the part to work the same way as the original.

Tuesday, 03 July 2007 15:30

If a set of brand new jet skis are not flashy enough add some airbrushing

Written by Rich Evans

    A recent project we had at the shop involved a group of six, sit-down Sea-Doo jet skis. The client wanted to enhance the brand new skis with graphics and artwork. The jet skis shared a common theme, each one with its own variation on the design. The layout included an art piece up front and a smaller one at the rear, with fire throughout.

Monday, 04 June 2007 16:44

The weeklong sleep deprived marathon challenge

Written by Rich Evans
    Here at the Huntington Beach Bodyworks, we’ve done our share of rigs. The Meguiar’s big rigs have been the most popular, of course. There have been several others, including my own trailer complete with the works- skulls, skeletons, flames, and all. But even with all these projects in the past, we could not have predicted the challenge that was yet to come.
 Active Image
 The finished rim.

    One of the easiest ways to customize any vehicle is with a new set of rims. In recent years it has become popular to purchase rims with centers that match your paint and a nice chrome finish on the lip of the rim.
    If the style or brand of rim is not offered with a painted center or if the color of the center is not what you want, custom painting is the solution. Whether you choose to customize a particular set of rims on the market or decide to enhance rims you already own, both can be prepped and painted. A recent customer wanted black centers and airbrushed skulls on the center caps of his brand new set of rims, and the following steps describe how this was accomplished.




Thursday, 05 April 2007 14:20

Seamless look in modified and custom painted Supra

Written by Rich Evans
 In a massive undertaking that spanned the course of a few months, the staff at Huntington Beach Bodyworks recently completed a 1995 Toyota Supra that required an entire, from-the-ground-up build. Toyota Supra has been a very popular project car for the past decade or so due to its lightweight appeal, good looks and high horsepower potential.
Monday, 05 March 2007 16:11

Custom painting adds flair to helmets

Written by Rich Evans

Applying custom graphics and artwork to helmets can sometimes be a little troublesome. Helmets can be just as time consuming, if not more, as painting a motorcycle tank. This is because with helmets there are many more parts and materials that need to be masked and protected.

Friday, 03 October 2008 12:04

Evans---Legendary Hot Rodder Demonstrates Blending Techniques

Written by Rich Evans

A couple of weeks back I had the opportunity to host a workshop“The First Ever Auto Painting Workshop with Gene Winfield,” sponsored by The College for Appraisers, Alsa Paints, and DeVilbiss Automotive. It was a great time hosting and watching a master at work—Winfield, my good friend and mentor. I’ve learned a lot from Gene and been fortunate enough to receive his skills and experience on some of our Huntington Beach Bodyworks builds. What’s really amazing is that Gene just turned 81 years old and shows no sign of slowing down.

Friday, 31 March 2006 17:00

Skipping steps in repair procedures can lead to problems

Written by Rich Evans

A common problem that often gums up the works of the collision repair process is the customer with a near-impossible deadline. Even if the needed repairs are second nature, the time deadline can interfere with performing established shop procedures and the technician's better judgment. 

Friday, 30 June 2006 17:00

Keys to getting the job done - creating graphics on vehicles

Written by Rich Evans

A few years ago my shop flamed a Corvette convertible. It was a black 'vette with yellow pearl flames. Recently a client, who saw the car in a show on the East Coast, wanted to buy the 'vette, but it had already been sold. He proceeded to purchase a 1998 Corvette convertible and have it shipped directly to my shop - Huntington Beach Bodyworks. 

Monday, 31 July 2006 17:00

Start with a stencil; create a custom airbrush design

Written by Rich Evans

Almost two years ago, I decided to design some helpful tools for the custom paint industry, primarily focusing on the automotive airbrushing profession. Having been involved with airbrush artists since I dove into the custom paint industry many years ago, I've watched the profession evolve first hand. 

Thursday, 31 August 2006 17:00

A guide to creating a show-stopping finish

Written by Rich Evans

Do you have a project car that has been sandblasted down to bare metal and needs a spectacular finish? To explain in detail the complete process of transforming a bare metal vehicle into a show quality finish, the project I'm breaking down is a 1956 Chevy Bel Air Convertible. 

Saturday, 30 September 2006 17:00

Putting graphics on a big rig

Written by Rich Evans

One project that has brought me a lot of recognition, and was most rewarding as well, has to be the Meguiar's big rigs. At the Super Chevy Show in 2002, I displayed one of my skulled out trucks which caught the attention of Meguiar's driver John. He later approached me and explained that Meguiar's had just recently purchased two new big rigs and were looking for the right person to lay down the custom graphics. Mike Kennedy of Meguiar's asked me for an estimate or quote for the job - typical procedure for a paint shop. 

Tuesday, 16 January 2007 16:58

QRS air compressors offer many advantages over reciprocating compressors

Written by Rich Evans

I recently added the Chicago Pneumatic QRS Quiet Rotary Screw air compressor to my shop because of its quiet operation, smooth and pulse-free air output, compact size, high output volume, low vibration, prolonged service intervals, and long life.

Monday, 15 January 2007 14:48

Using autobody painting techniques to apply graphics to a speedboat

Written by Rich Evans

While working on a radically custom '56 Chevy Hardtop called the Black Knight, I called upon Todd Oneal of Bassani Exhaust to collaborate with me on a very extreme exhaust system.

Wednesday, 10 January 2007 17:20

Airbrushing the graphics on the Meguiars rigs

Written by Rich Evans

 By Rich Evans

{mosimage}After all the plotting, back masking, priming and prepping, it is finally time to paint the flames on the Meguiar's rigs, with a focus on the airbrushing techniques of Huntington Beach Bodyworks' master artist Terry Stephens.

Tuesday, 02 September 2008 15:58

Barons in the Buff 2008: Insurers & Their Partners Expose Themselves

Written by Dick Strom

It’s time for the latest installment of Barons In The Buff, a collage of candid quotes from the mind-trust of insurance personnel, those who once walked in their shoes, and from those of us who know them all too well. We trust you will find these quotes educational and entertaining, and encourage you to send us any notable quotes. Remember, the truth is always “stranger than fiction.”

Saturday, 02 August 2008 10:51

Safe and Quality Repairs: Putting Profit Back Into Repair Process

Written by Dick Strom
Co-written with Mike Orso

A major conundrum shop owners face today is the fact that, contrary to what insurers espouse, all collision repairs are not created equal. The lack of true standards in the repair of collision damaged vehicles leaves the potential for improper or substandard repair up to the discretion of the shop or the insurance company paying for the repair.
Monday, 07 July 2008 13:09

Body Shop Vacation: Impressions From a Month in France

Written by Dick Strom

For those collision repairers with your noses constantly to the grind wheel, I’d like to depart from my regular format and point out that there is more to life than that found in the shop. Left to me, my wife and I would probably never have spent a month touring France by car. But Bobbi never lost her “wanderlust” as a military brat of a career Marine and so we were off to France, Rick Steves’ handy travel guides in hand. Here are some impressions of our trip to the motherland of the Impressionist Movement. 

Wednesday, 02 April 2008 10:03

Nightmare Lays Out Worse Case Scenarios for Insurer Partners

Written by Dick Strom

I awoke in a cold sweat as from past nightmares, relieved that this particular nightmare didn’t have a direct bearing on my life. It certainly did affect the lives of others. I forced myself to remember every detail so the dream would not fade away. 

Friday, 29 February 2008 17:00

Is New Legislation the Answer to Shop Woes?

Written by Dick Strom

A cartoon I remember from the '60s pictured a young couple getting it on in a grassy field. What made it memorable was the expression on the face of the guy as his female partner of the moment, stoically looked up into his eyes, saying something like "I’m doing this for nuclear disarmament, free love, and world peace… What are you doing this for?"

Monday, 31 December 2007 17:00

How Foxy Todd Fox Was Outfoxed by Elements of His Own Devices

Written by Dick Strom
The old Eagles song, Hotel California, has lyrics that once heard, reverberate in the brain for days. It’s ironic how well the lyrics of Hotel California describe the corner into which so many in the collision industry have painted themselves, how they got there, and how they can possibly get out.
Friday, 30 November 2007 17:00

Barons in the Buff 2007

Written by Dick Strom
Active Image
Dick Strom 

It’s time for the latest installment of Barons In The Buff, a collage of candid quotes from the mind-trust of insurance personnel, those who once walked in their shoes, and from those of us who know them all too well. We trust you will find these quotes educational and entertaining, and encourage you to send any notable quotes you’ve received to my e-mail listed above. No fabricated or embellished quips, please: the truth is always “stranger than fiction.”


Wednesday, 31 October 2007 17:00

Profiling - How Do Vehicle Owners Categorize You?

Written by Dick Strom

For years my wife and I have been cleaning up the roadside where we live. One major reason we do this is for the exercise it provides… a couple miles of brisk walking plus back and knee bending that keeps us fairly limber despite arthritis issues. Generally speaking, on the relatively upscale, bedroom community of Seattle island where we live, what little trash along our road is Starbucks cups, McDonalds wrappers and plastic salad containers, cigarette wrappers and butts, an occasional beer can or pop bottle, some of those little liquor bottles from plane flights (someone down our road obviously works for an airline), and an occasional syringe. The roads around our home are frequented by spandex-covered bicyclists with their butts high in the air expressing, I can only assume,  their opinion of the rest of us. 

Sunday, 30 September 2007 17:00

Defining Industry Accepted Standards

Written by Dick Strom

The term – industry accepted standards – is used by both insurers and repairers as it serves their purposes to earn the consumer’s trust. Industry accepted standards, relative to collision repair, is the feel-good lure of choice – cast out to convince the gullible. 

Tuesday, 31 July 2007 17:00

Despite innocence, you can be hanged

Written by Dick Strom

Chris and Carol Ferrante,  the former  owners of Gilbert Collision Center in Gilbert, Arizona, have had their lives turned upside down since May from a lawsuit brought against them by Infinity Insurance. (See Autobodynews,com for a profile on the collision repair shop when the Ferrante's owned it in  2002). 

Monday, 02 July 2007 13:56

Protect yourself from lawsuits and Internet slander by disgruntled customers

Written by Dick Strom and Mike Orso
    History has proven that the larger and more prominent a shop and its owner, the easier target they   are for lawsuits and other attacks by disgruntled customers. Mike Orso, owner of Nick Orso’s Body Shop in Syracuse, New York, fits this description. He owns a large collision shop named after his late father, who owned and operated it for years before him. Mike has earned his place of respect in the collision industry, as president of the New York Auto Collision Technicians Association (NYACTA) and as a longtime member in good standing of the Coalition for Collision Repair Excellence (CCRE).
Wednesday, 02 May 2007 10:33

Remove the big S from your shirt and charge full cost of repair

Written by Dick Strom
    One of Gary Larson’s Far Side comics depicts an elderly Clark Kent lounging at home as his elderly wife busies herself stitching the letters “…tupid” next to the big “S” on his Superman shirt. Stupid with a great big “S” precisely describes the position in which collision shop owners place themselves when attempting to shield their customers from every pain of dealing with insurers. Insurers use your customer loyalty as a huge profit center for their own enrichment. Read on.
Tuesday, 31 October 2000 17:00

Taking care of business... and the family: a delicate balance

Written by Dick Strom
My wife and I recently became first-time grandparents. Hannah Lee Strom is her name, and flirting with my emotions is her game! This little beauty, with her pink skin so soft it defies my sense of touch, dark, wispy hair, soft facial features, cute little button nose, and tiny, delicate fingers and toes, has enchanted me.
Wednesday, 31 January 2001 17:00

Shops profit from being environmentally responsible

Written by Dick Strom

A friend who once drove a bread-route told of a true incident involving one of his customers of former days who was the proprietor of an old country store with the typical outhouse alongside. One day, as the storekeeper sat in his privy leisurely finishing a cigar while reading a newspaper, he dropped the cigar butt into the depths below. In an explosive flash, he was propelled through the privy's wall and deposited on the nearby road, black and blue and, shall we say, exposed. Seems a backyard mechanic, employing disposal methods common to that era, had dumped several gallons of stale gasoline down this outhouse. In addition to public exposure, today the consequences of waste disposal impropriety often include serious fines, restitution and even imprisonment. 

Friday, 31 August 2001 17:00

Managed care - out of sight, out of mind, out of control

Written by Dick Strom

I just had my yearly physical. One reason I rely heavily on the advice of the doctor I've chosen is that he takes good care of himself, and emphasizes preventative medicine. Since I turned 50, physicals have taken on a new character - sinister-appearing devices for early detection of prostate and colon cancer have been added to the regular regimen. Although the procedures involved are sometimes uncomfortable, the temporary inconveniences far outweigh the risk of physical molehills turning into mountains. We want to spend our days on this earth as free of undue pain and illness as possible so as to be active participants, rather than faded memories, in the lives of our children and grandchildren. 

Wednesday, 31 October 2001 17:00

Is you is, or is you aint my baby?

Written by Dick Strom

Electronic communication and commerce developments of the past decade have created some exciting and strange bedfellows in our industry. Used wisely, and not abused, some of these can help us put out a better product in a shorter time frame. But the dot-coms that have sprung up faster than hallucinatory fungi on horse pucky threaten to dot-decimate many smaller players, especially those unable or unwilling to conform to the control of those bent on pulling the cyber-strings. As with everything else in this life, "following the money trail" always leads us to realize someone else's desire to control and profit from us - or eliminate us. 

Friday, 30 November 2001 17:00

A lesson from ol Henry on not getting stuck in ruts

Written by Dick Strom

"Take it off, Honey!" I pleaded with my wife as we ended an early-morning walk. My request concerned the doubt she'd just voiced that she could afford to take off just six workdays from her extensive office duties at our shop. It's a phobia common enough among business owners - the fear of who knows what awaits their return from enjoying the fruits of their labors: The fear of loss of control!

Thursday, 31 January 2002 17:00

Auto parts dealers speak up about returned parts

Written by Dick Strom

The October, 2001 issue of Autobody News front-lined an article, "Dealer Parts Managers Complain that Body Shops Return Excessive Number of Parts," voicing the opinions of parts managers interviewed. Three factors are pinpointed as contributing to an excessive number of returned parts - outright fraud, cycle time pressures that encourage ordering parts "just in case we need them," and parts orders based on estimates written by inexperienced insurance adjusters. It seems that the parts managers are sweating - and speaking out - about these issues.  

Thursday, 28 February 2002 17:00

Life in the information-gathering age

Written by Dick Strom

Someone has said that you know you're getting older when your hair migrates from the top of your head to take up residence in your ears and nose. Age does have a funny way of sneaking up on us. 

Tuesday, 31 July 2001 17:00

How we lost control of the industry

Written by Dick Strom

Recently, my wife Bobbbi's newer model Volvo was rear-ended. Although damages amounted to only $400, a GEICO representative remained unwavering in her efforts to try to force Bobbi to drive the 50 mile round trip to their nearest drive-in claim center. Speaking to her immediate superior got the same reaction. Even reminding these representatives that we own a collision shop and know our insured motorist's rights didn't dissuade these robots from their rote statements. 

Sunday, 31 March 2002 17:00

Insurers and their partners expose themselves

Written by Dick Strom

It's time for the third installment to Barons In The Buff, a collage of candid quotes from the mind-trust of insurer and associates wit and wisdom. Barons In The Buff simply re-quotes some of their stand-alone statements, untouched except for occasional clarification or comment. Want to contribute?… Send your gems to my address listed at the end of this article - no fabricated or embellished quips, please: What men say is often stranger than fiction. So sit back and have a good laugh, remembering that "A merry heart does good like medicine." 

Monday, 05 March 2007 16:27

Estimating in dollar figures and billing the full cost of repair

Written by Dick Strom
In one of those only too human moments when the mouth exceeds the speed of the brain, an insurance representative informed our estimators, “My company doesn’t pay in dollars!” Making light of the obvious, one in our office quickly countered, “So do you pay in pesos? chickens…?” This insurer rep’s outburst was in response to a much needed, long overdue change we had recently enacted: Our shop now bills (actually, once again bills) our customers (the vehicle owners) for the services we perform… and we write our estimates and work-orders line-by-line in dollar amounts, no longer in tenths of an hour or time units. Reasons for this change will become obvious.
Tuesday, 30 April 2002 17:00

So, that is what you really think?

Written by Dick Strom

I believe the following quotes, all drawn from notes sent to me regarding articles I've written, are indicative of deep-seated convictions held by a growing number of collision repairers. Many repairers, especially DRP shops, are fearful of retribution by their insurance customers and won't speak their minds publicly (but they'll write to me). Here then, are their thoughts from my correspondence and other sources as noted. 

Sunday, 30 June 2002 17:00

Ultimate DRP - Insurer ownership of shops

Written by Dick Strom

From my perspective, ASA's official response to the Allstate Insurance buyout of Sterling Consolidators is a weak effort at appeasement of concerned/infuriated collision repair members of that Association. This response, obviously aimed at alienating as few as possible of their collision and insurer constituents and associates, reads: "ASA ardently supports consumers' unequivocal right to choose their collision repair facilities. ASA has grave concerns with controlling ownership of collision repair facilities by insurance companies. We are uncertain that the economic interests or the safety requirements of the American driving public can best be served by this type of vertical relationship. 

Friday, 31 May 2002 17:00

Sterling, Steerling, Steering

Written by Dick Strom

There's been a lot of insolent crowing and misguided arrows over the issue of insurer ownership of collision shops, the Allstate/Sterling Consolidation presently holding center stage. To give their questionable venture a hint of correctness, Allstate's V.P., Chuck Paul, recently announced, "Your (collision repair) industry is fragmented; less than 10% of your shops do a million in sales annually" (as if shop stability could be measured only in millions; also neglecting to mention that his insurance industry has systematically worked to keep the collision industry "fragmented," to their advantage). Continuing, he reasoned since "car insurance is mature" and "there is no organic growth in this (insurance) business," Allstate's only avenue to expand and increase its market share is through buying into collision repair shops through consolidations such as Sterling. I feel much better knowing they had no choice! 

Wednesday, 31 July 2002 17:00

CAPA tamper proof seals - now you see them...

Written by Dick Strom

On a recent Saturday my brothers and I and our families did some serious catch-up on Dad's place. A widower of 88 years, until severe osteoporosis limited his activities he kept his place prim and proper. Lawnmowers, pruning shears, and the like over a four-hour period, though, pretty well brought it back to its former state. In the process we also cleaned out a rag-tag accumulation of junk overhead in his garage. Among the clutter, an empty dynamite box dated 1953 brought back memories of a time soon after WW2, in which tractors were scarce and dynamite was relatively cheap, when we'd watch Dad blast stumps from our 20 acres. He learned the art of using the right amount and correct placement of dynamite while mining in his late teens. 

Saturday, 31 August 2002 17:00

Automotive repair on the isle of Crete

Written by Dick Strom

Ever seen a Fiat Panda or Punto, or a Nissan Sunny, or an Opel ECO? How about a Hyundai Atos, a Datsun Cherry... or Fiat, Citroen or Peugeot pickups? These and other fuel-efficient looks-challenged automotive anomalies at times jockey for street space with bicycles, mopeds and motorcycles in western Cretan cities in a crazy, somewhat synchronized slow street dance. Older, less fuel-efficient vehicles are scarce in this land where a liter of gas (from BP, Texaco, Shell, or EKO gas stations) presently hovers somewhere over .80 Euro (around $.73). The stubbiness in body design of this new genre of autos coursing European streets would cause one to believe their designers went to lunch when they got to the center of these vehicles, and never came back. 

Monday, 30 September 2002 17:00

Diminished value: can put you out of business

Written by Dick Strom

Mark Olson, owner of Future Forensics (www.futureforensics.com), a business specializing in automotive damage investigations, was a recent guest speaker at our industry association meeting. His intimate knowledge of both the collision repair and insurance industries is gleaned from 15 years of collision shop experience and two years insurance company employment before establishing his collision damage investigations company, Future Forensics

Wednesday, 30 April 2003 17:00

Expert critiques Modern Collision Rebuild

Written by Dick Strom

In two recent articles, I spoke with Mark Olson, owner of Future Forensics www.futureforensics.com, and part owner of Verifacts Automotive, businesses specializing in automotive damage investigations. Olson exposed a number of common mistakes that could easily land shops in legal hot water, even bankruptcy. Olson keeps up on the latest changes from manufacturer service bulletins, and knows first-hand, having supplied "expert witness" testimony at many auto-related court cases, how juries, unfamiliar with the intricacies of collision repair, render judgment. So, when Olson (an I-CAR instructor, former insurer representative, and former shop owner) offered to take a critical look my shop's repairs in progress, to point out what we're doing right and wrong, I accepted. 

Saturday, 31 May 2003 17:00

Candid review of Strom shop operations continued

Written by Dick Strom

In last month's column, you read a candid review of our shop operation on Banbridge Island, near Seattle, Washington. The review was conducted by Mark Olson, owner of Future Forensics (www.futureforensics.com), and co-owner of Verifacts Automotive. Olson specializes in auto damage investigations and supplying "expert witness" testimony in auto-related court cases. 

Monday, 30 June 2003 17:00

Skilled techs discuss the state of the CR industry

Written by Dick Strom

Bill Mauldin, the pen behind the "Willie and Joe" cartoons in WW2-era editions of the Army's Stars and Stripes, died recently. Following the war, Mauldin published his cartoons with explanations of the incidents that inspired them in Up Front With Bill Mauldin, the first of two Pulitzer Prize winning books. Mauldin, whose characterizations have evoked more cheers and scorn than possibly any other war cartoonist, could empathize with the quandary of battle-weary Army infantrymen because he was one of them. 

Thursday, 31 July 2003 17:00

Skilled techs talk about what irks and frustrates them

Written by Dick Strom

In last month's article, you read candid opinions straight from the keypads of skilled techs, describing what they see wrong with business-as-usual collision repair and their views on what good employers should do if they want to keep them with their shops.

Sunday, 31 August 2003 17:00

Profiting from Wal-mart-ization of the CR industry

Written by Dick Strom

If you can imagine Big Bird settling into a cozy yet busily productive henhouse - the aloof behemoth arrogantly fluffing its plumage as it wiggles its super-sized rear into a comfortable nesting spot, destroying everything the residents spent years producing, you can understand why thousands of productive small businesses become alarmed, outraged, even militant when Wal-Mart barges into their market area. 

Sunday, 30 November 2003 17:00

Clout is generated when everyone works together

Written by Dick Strom

Clout is generated and precedents are put into play when shops work together with repair organizations that really have a heart for the concerns of the collision industry. But even more favorable results are possible when consumers are willing to go to bat for their rights, and for those of shops that encourage them to take a stand.

Wednesday, 31 December 2003 17:00

Insurer-owned shops - sucking the life out of suckers

Written by Dick Strom

An independent (non-DRP) shop owner-friend recently told me their local shop association hosted a meeting to discuss the proliferation of Sterling shops in their area. He wrote, "A lot of major DRP shops showed up to voice very strong opposition to insurance company ownership of shops. What's interesting is the number of 'scared DRP shops' who think Sterling's arrival is the 'beginning of the end' for their businesses." 

Saturday, 31 January 2004 17:00

If health insurance were like auto insurance

Written by Dick Strom

"Looking at your X-rays, your right hip is pretty shot… must be painful." I couldn't help noticing the way Dr. Jack looked at me sideways, sizing me up, a few gold crowns gleaming through a cryptic Rhett Butler sneer that, lacking only a cigar, would have pegged him a dead ringer for a used car salesman, not a surgeon. 

Friday, 30 April 2004 17:00

Are insurers price-shopping repairers into limbo?

Written by Dick Strom

The more I read about Wal-Mart - the world's largest retailer with its nearly $250 billion-and-rapidly-growing gross sales last year, and in its third year as #1 on Fortune 500's list - the more like the insurance industry they appear to be. In fact, one might wonder whether Wal-Mart is taking its cues from the insurance industry or vice versa. 

Monday, 31 May 2004 17:00

How collision avoidance systems will affect your auto body business

Written by Dick Strom

Nothing makes me cringe - physically turning my insides to mush - like the squeal of tires in that desperate, futile, out-of-control second before an inevitable collision. Having cleaned up too many blood-splattered cars, I'm in favor of anything that would assure deathless, injury-less accidents. Collision Avoidance Systems, devices currently being developed and fine-tuned to minimize the frequency and severity of auto accidents promise to drastically change the way we drive. These will also greatly change the collision repair landscape. 

Wednesday, 30 June 2004 17:00

Dropping DRP relationships: the profitability of independence

Written by Dick Strom

As a guest speaker at the North Dakota Auto Body Association Annual Convention and Trade Show recently, it was humbling to note that North Dakota, with a fraction of my state's population and one-forth of its collision shops, had better attendance than did the state of Washington. I found these shops refreshingly positive about their future. I spoke about why shops should seriously consider getting off the DRP-train, and how to do it. Here are some of the highlights of that presentation. 

Saturday, 31 July 2004 17:00

18 memorable days traveling in Spain and Portugal

Written by Dick Strom

My wife Bobbi and I recently returned from visiting the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal). Our daughter, Shannin, a costume designer who worked for L.A. Opera, and presently freelances on various movies, operas, and the like, had just finished assisting Madrid Opera in costume setup for Tchaikovsky's Queen of Spades.