Monday, 05 October 2015 09:07

Chief Products Enable Wisconsin Shop to Repair Aluminum Vehicles Properly

With the introduction of aluminum vehicles like the Ford F-150 truck, even body shops in small communities such as Osceola Auto Body in Osceola, Wisconsin are realizing the need to invest in technology, training and equipment for a proper repair.

Dan Tronrud, owner of Osceola Auto Body, is excited to be on board. He recently purchased new Chief equipment to set up his shop for aluminum repair, in particular the Ford F-150. “There are not a lot of shops in this area doing that,” said Tronrud.

Chief Osceola 1

Osceola Auto Body, located in Osceola, Wisonsin, recently purchased Chief equipment to set up for the shop's aluminum repair program.


Although it has been an added expense purchasing equipment and getting certified, he sees the long-term benefits. “There are many experts in the auto industry who say this is really going to take off. One of the challenges will be the availability of aluminum and how fast they can produce it,” he said.

In his small community of 2,800, there are at least four of the new Ford F-150 trucks. Tronrud said they are great vehicles and two of the owners came to his shop so he could take a ride. “Being on the aluminum repair program just added more to the excitement,” he said with a smile.

When the business owner first looked into the Ford requirements to get certified he said they had some of the equipment in-house already. He started thinking about the aluminum repair program at NACE, back in July 2014. Four months later at the SEMA show in Las Vegas, NV, he was committed and ready to purchase some of the necessary equipment.

After some research, he decided to purchase from Chief. “I just thought that their product was a little better and I liked the crew they had. We haven’t had any problems,” said Tronrud. “They provide good service and good equipment.” When working with Tom VanDehey from Chief, he has found that if there is any little part the shop might need, they receive it quickly.

The two pieces of Chief equipment he has owned the longest are the Velocity computerized measuring system and the Multispot MI-100control T inverter spot welder.

The shop uses the Velocity computerized measuring system to measure structural damage on all makes and models of vehicles. Chief’s sophisticated laser technology identifies damage that can be seen as well as additional hidden primary and secondary damage. This helps his techs develop more efficient repair plans. “It’s one of those things that you buy and wonder how you ever lived without it,” he said.

The MI-100control T is a squeeze-type resistance spot welder designed for all vehicle body repairs including those involving high-strength steels. The welder recognizes and adjusts automatically to tool changes and logs data for each repair. Tronrud said the welder has increased productivity in the shop and is by far the tool they use most.

Osceola Auto Body recently purchased Chief’s Aluminum Dent Repair Station. Tronrud said the mobile workstation includes all of the required tools the shop will need for aluminum repair, including a dent puller, angled air die grinder and heat shield gel.

He also purchased a Chief dust extractor, which removes aluminum dust created when sanding. Not only is this important because the dust is combustible, Tronrud and his techs have found the extractor keeps the shop cleaner, which makes them happy.

His new Chief MultiMig 522 MIG/MAG inverter welder is designed specifically for welding aluminum. Tronrud’s techs have used a lot of welders, and they say the MultiMig 522 uses less heat and is less susceptible to corrosion issues than other welders they have used in the past. In addition, its unique push-pull torch and double-pulse feature are important for making proper aluminum welds.

Growing up in River Falls, Wisconsin, Tronrud realized he had an interest in collision repair during high school. He attended technical college in 1989 before joining a high-production shop in St. Paul, Minnesota, for 12 years. His original plan was to build his own shop.

He recalls stopping by Osceola Auto Body to enquire about job opportunities. Eventually he was hired in 2002 as the shop manager and two years later he and his wife Kierstin purchased the shop, which had been founded by Brian and Barb Johnson in 1975.

Today, Tronrud and his eight employees have built a solid business based on providing excellent service and quality to customers. Well known throughout the community, some customers travel from 40 miles or more away.

Tronrud attributes his success to his employees. “The key is surrounding yourself with good people,” he said. “We’re a small business in a small town, but we have the same expectations as a higher-production shop in a larger city.”

With 16 bays and 700 repair orders a year, the shop stays busy, especially between October and February. This is the time of year when it is typical to have one deer hit a day. He finds there are usually close to 250 deer hits every year. “Those little critters are our bread and butter,” he said.

The shop’s mission is to be on the forefront of auto body technology while providing the best in quality and customer care. To do this, Tronrud tries to stay up with the latest advancements.

“No shop owner wants a job to come to their door that they have to turn away because they can’t fix the vehicle. Shops are soon going to realize the importance of getting on board with the aluminum repair program,” said Tronrud. “Chief’s products will allow us to repair these vehicles properly.”