Local news stories affecting the auto body industry in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin
Collision repairers from six states are pursuing legal action against insurers for alleged antitrust violations and collusion by making deals with preferred body shops to reduce labor costs, and interfering with body shops’ business by dictating how they do repairs. There are also allegations that shops are being forced to use substandard repair parts. The body shops are seeking damages from the suits that could amount to damages in the billions. See Indiana Autobody Association and Indiana Shop Owners File Suit to Block Tortious Interference for more details.
David Michael Kepner, owner of Smash Auto Body in Jordan, MN, has been charged in Scott County District Court with first-degree drug possession and sales, a felony.
According to court documents:
According to court documents:
Southwest Metro Drug Task Force commander Phil Nawrocki executed a search warrant at the business, which also includes Absolute Towing, on May 13. A pipe, loaded syringe and large wad of money was found and the pipe field-tested positive for methamphetamine.
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Grassy Auto Parts in West Liberty, KY, is the newest automotive recycler to join with the Team PRP nationwide network of quality-minded recyclers, which brings Team PRP membership to an impressive 139 locations across the country.
In addition to their primary location in West Liberty, Grassy owns two additional locations: Bluegrass Auto Parts in Lexington, KY, and Auto Parts Outlet in South Charleston, WV. Between 3,000 and 5,000 vehicles are kept at these locations, and close to 50 employees work with the company.
“Grassy Auto Parts has an excellent reputation in the Kentucky and West Virginia area as a high-quality, customer service-oriented auto parts recycler,” commented Charlie Martin, Team PRP North American regional director. “Their business model aligns well with the vision and high standards of the Team PRP organization as we continue to expand geographically. The addition of their three stores extends coverage for the Kentucky and West Virginia repair community."
“We feel that joining with Team PRP is an excellent opportunity to expand our business in a way that is more unified with other quality recyclers,” explained co-owner Kristin Allen. “Being part of Team PRP holds all of us to a higher standard, and we are proud to be recognized with a distinguished group in our industry.”
Pat Johnson, a cigarette-puffing Martinsville body shop owner, cut ties with insurer State Farm last November, fed up with its requirement that he buy vehicle parts through its online PartsTrader site instead of using his own longtime suppliers.
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The current wait time at Yach’s Auto Body in Wausau, WI, is, believe it or not, only a week to a week and a half, but president Henry Yach III says this has been their busiest winter yet.
From fender benders to roofs collapsing on cars, Yach’s Auto Body has seen it all this season as the record-breaking cold ushered in a whole new set of auto body problems.
“A lot of vehicles now have plastic parts, and so in the warm temperatures they’ll flex, but in the cold they’ll shatter,” Yach explained.
Yach says they’ve seen an increase in the number of people bringing in their cars for light damage. A trend he attributes to people heeding warnings and traveling at slower speeds.
Another common story Yach says he’s been hearing from customers is about those bigger than life snowbanks. He says since the snowbanks are so dense from all the melting and re-freezing, when cars hit them it’s almost like hitting a concrete wall.
Marshall Auto Body in Waukesha, WI, has received the 2014 Wisconsin Sustainable Process of the Year award by the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council. Their business model is centered on customer value and eliminating or minimizing as much waste activity and material as possible. These changes have meant less waste to recycle, lower energy consumption, lower material usage, and the ability to get the bulk of their electrical power from a large 72kW solar panel array.
Eight years ago, the company implemented a lean manufacturing system that helps them to find and eliminate waste, surface problems, and even increase use and throughput. Along with their work in eliminating waste, the company monitors their energy usage and makes that available online through their e-gauge. Marshall has partnered with H&H Group Holdings (another Green Maters Participant) to install solar panels at their facility. Their monitoring system allows them to plan for and minimize peak demand for energy consumption. Marshall Auto Body hopes to be carbon neutral by 2016.
The 1Collision Network has announce the addition of Troy Waller Auto Body in Fort Dodge, IA, to its network of independently-owned collision centers in the Midwest. With the addition of Troy Waller’s, 1Collision Network now includes 20 facilities in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
Troy Waller Auto Body is owned by Troy Waller and has been in business for over 23 years. Waller stated, “As MSOs and networks rapidly gain market share, I am excited to affiliate with a growing network of quality shops that provide my business with marketing and performance resources I would be hard pressed to find on my own.”
1Collision Network president Jim Keller commented, “Troy’s business has a great reputation in Ft. Dodge, has strong DRP relationships, and with the addition of his shop, the 1Collision Network expands to five locations in Iowa. We are proud to welcome Troy and his organization as our newest 1Collision Network partner.”
Scott Schaefer of Schaefer Autobody Centers in Fenton, MO, wants to build a new shop at 1290 Central Park Drive in O’Fallon, MO. The City Council Community Development Committee approved the zoning variance to make it happen. But O’Fallon Zoning Hearing officer and attorney Douglas C. Gruenke advised against granting the variance, and development director Ted Shekell and city administrator Walter Denton agreed. The site’s zoning is specific to auto sales.
Auto repair firm Nagy’s Collision Specialists has opened its first power sports facility. Formerly operated as B&L Motorsports in Wadsworth, OH, Nagy's Power Sports will service and repair motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs, snowmobiles, and golf carts. Former B&L owner Bob Gerberich, who has 56 years in the industry, will stay on board to assist with the shop, while Fred Seckel will use his more than 30 years of power sports industry experience to manage the location.
With the huge number of crashes this winter, auto repair shops in Minnesota are still swamped with weeks-long backlogs. Many repair shops are telling customers they will have to wait four to six weeks before they can even start working on their car or truck. Marwan Kawas is a manager at Heppner’s Auto Body, which has six locations in the east metro area. “This is my 15th year doing this, and this is the worst winter I’ve seen,” Kawas said. He says business is up about 30 percent. “Drivers don’t keep their proper distances when they’re on the roads. Sometimes it’s just inevitable, you know, especially with black ice.”
Kawas says people are often stunned by the cost of repairs. “Sometimes they think it’s just a bumper,” he said. “But when you factor in the price of the part, the paint, the labor, sometimes the little hidden damage, the broken clips…it adds up. You know, even just a bumper can be a $1,000–$1,500 repair. This one is more, actually, because it buckled on the hood, and there’s probably some inner damage as well, that’s probably a good $3,000–4,000 repair,” Kawas said, adding, “If your vehicle is severely damaged, you will likely be able to get help sooner than later. But if you can still drive your car, expect a long wait.” How long? “Weeks out, definitely,” he said. “And you’ll find it’s true across the metro area…we all have the same problem.”