Local news stories affecting the auto body industry in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, Maryland, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine
March 22---The New York State Senate passed three bills to combat auto insurance fraud, which costs New Yorkers more than $1 billion a year, as well as legislation that would impose stronger criminal penalties for staging auto accidents. Recent cases of auto insurance fraud have uncovered massive crime rings, including doctors, lawyers and scam artists who staged accidents and used New York's no-fault insurance program as their own giant state-sponsored, ATM machine.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Camden Iron & Metal, based in Camden, N.J., is relocating its scrap processing operations from Philadelphia to Camden.
We asked John Thomas, owner of Thomas Auto Body Shop in Hingham, MA, about his company as it passes its 50-year anniversary this year. The following is an edited version of our conversation.
I attended my second consecutive AASP/NJ Northeast Trade Show, officially show number 36, on March 9 and 10 at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, NJ. As I spend more time at these kinds of events I begin to appreciated how much there is to learn in this complicated business of collision repair. It is a very educational and useful event that collision repairers should make the effort to attend next year if possible.
Parts and Service Manager Rob Cottle of Stadel Volvo in East Petersburg, PA, will again walk in an 18-mile walk in San Francisco, CA, on June 9 as part of the Out of the Darkness Overnight, an event that raises money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
The goal of this journey, which will begin at dusk and finish at dawn, is to raise funds for suicide prevention, mitigate the stigma surrounding suicide and its causes, to encourage those suffering from mental illness to seek treatment, as well as to show support for the families and friends of the 30,000 Americans who die by suicide and the 20 million people that suffer from depression each year.
Cottle is asking for donations and support of this effort. Donations are tax-deductible and can be given at Cottle’s personal fundraising webpage, http://theovernight.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&eventID=501&participantID=3848
Cottle is walking as a part of the group called “Remembering Ryan” and will be walking with his friend Debi, who lost her son by suicide four years ago.
“I hope that you’ll share this incredible journey with me—by supporting me in my fundraising efforts,” said Cottle.
The net donation proceeds will support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s programs and mission.
AFSP is a small foundation, and much of their funding comes from The Overnight.
According to AFSP, “Every dollar you raise will help you save the life of a child, a parent, a sibling or a close friend.”
For more information about AFSP, please visit www.afsp.org. For more information about the Out of the Darkness Overnight please visit www.theovernight.org.
Attendance at the recent NORTHEAST trade show, at the Meadowlands in Secaucus, NJ, was up 20% from last year, which was up from the year before. Some seminars were overflow seating and organizers had to pull in extra chairs for people who were standing.
Heard and seen at the show were some familiar figures in the industry. Several took the mike at the Northeast Leadership forum.
One person we all wanted to hear from was the owner of North State Custom, Greg Coccaro, who surprised a number of attendees with the revelation that he’s back to doing business with Progressive Insurance, despite the long and torturous legal battles between the two. Even though business is relatively slow for shops in the area, his Progressive work has actually picked up. Coccaro was told by a Progressive employee that “Progressive does not have a network of shops in New York any more, so the intense steering they practiced in this area has subsided.” Coccaro added, “I’m now repairing cars for Progressive’s customers once again.” Coccaro still owes some $500,000 in legal fees to defend his shop’s reputation and his own name. He hopes to be able to recover his losses due to the causes of action in his pending lawsuit against Progressive.
Another engaging speaker at the forum was Tony Lombardozzi with Automotive Collision Repair Services in New Hampshire, who repeated his message of self-sufficiency for the industry and his advocacy of independence from insurers through his presidency of the Coalition for Collision Repair Excellence (CCRE). Lombardozzi put it plainly: “The insurer is not a third party to our contract with our customer and should not be involved in the repair process. What an insurer appraiser writes is meaningless. It serves no purpose in the repair process.”
American Auto Salvage & Recycling, a fourth-generation recycling company based in Cape May, N.J., held an official grand opening for its auto shredder in Millville, N.J. American Auto Salvage started a new company, called American Iron & Metal International, to operate the auto shredder.
Joe Silipena Jr., president of American Auto Salvage, says the new, 12-acre facility that is housing the auto shredder includes an American Pulverizer shredder with a Hustler conveyor and an Eriez eddy current downstream system. The downstream system will be totally enclosed in an 80,000-square-foot building. The company says that it is one of only a handful of companies that presently operate a shredder with a totally enclosed downstream system.
Silipena says that the auto shredder will be powered by two 2,000-horsepower motors. One news report says that American Auto invested around $6 million on the auto shredder.
Silipena adds that in addition to an auto shredder, American Iron & Metal will operate as a traditional scrap metal recycling facility and accept both ferrous and nonferrous metals. The facility, which American Auto purchased at auction three years ago, has concrete to prevent storm water runoff. Silipena also says that the facility has a rail spur on the property, which will allow the company to rail shredded material to end markets.
Plans call for the shredder to operate five days a week. American Auto’s other facility, located at its headquarters in May Landing, N.J., will be used as a feeder yard for the auto shredder.
Silipena adds that the company celebrated the 90th birthday of its founder, Joseph Silipena Sr., with a ribbon cutting dedication of the auto shredder.
Heartland Automotive Services, Inc., America's largest Jiffy Lube Franchisee, has announced its expansion in the New York market with its acquisition of 12 locations in the Long Island area. In February, the company completed the purchase of the locations from Suffolk Lube Centers, Inc., which owned and managed the Jiffy Lube locations.
"Last year at this time, New York became a powerful new market for us as we expanded into the area with our first Jiffy Lube locations," said Brett Ponton, Chief Executive Officer at Jiffy Lube Heartland. "Now, one year later, we're pleased to be expanding with a dozen new locations – doubling our footprint in the New York area."
The new Heartland Jiffy Lube locations in New York are located in: Selden, Riverhead, Port Jefferson Station, Huntington, Patchogue, Commack, Farmingdale, Saint James, Shirley, Huntington Station, Deer Park and Rocky Point.
In a letter to State Farm CEO Edward Rust Jr., Don Harvey, of International Collision Service in Englewood, NJ, questions why State Farm does not acknowledge cost accounting programs and practices in setting paint allowance rates.
Harvey has previously contacted senior State Farm management to no avail. His letter follows:
Feb 15, 2012
State Farm Insurance Co.
Mr. Edward B. Rust Jr.
One State Farm Plaza
Bloomington, IL 61710
Dear Mr. Rust,
Please take a moment to look at an issue regarding customer satisfaction and a “Good Neighbor” responsible commitment to proper repairs.
Paint material has been an issue often questioned and not properly acknowledged.
H&V Collision Centers will open a fourth location in Saratoga County at the former Allstar Chevrolet in Saratoga, NY. H&V purchased the property in February and a formal grand opening will be held this spring. The new Saratoga location joins H&V locations in Troy, Queensbury and Colonie, and provides H&V with a base of operations in Rensselaer, Warren, Albany and Saratoga counties.
“We are very excited to be readying a fourth H&V location and equally excited to be moving into Saratoga County in 2012,” said H&V’s Vartan Jerian Jr.
“H&V has been fortunate to have many customers and friends from Saratoga County. This new, fourth location will move us closer to our customers in Saratoga and expand a coverage area that will allow us to bring in new customers,” added Jerian.
The new location for H&V will include 11 acres and 30,000 square feet and over one dozen bays. When completed, the facility will be the largest for H&V Collision Centers, and have a capability of processing 75 vehicles at a time.
An existing collision repair shop at the facility now includes 15 employees. Those employees will be retained. An additional ten jobs will be created. After starting as a two-man operation in the early 1970s, H&V now includes over 100 employees and collision repair technicians throughout the Capital Region.
H&V has seen steady and continued growth in recent years that has established H&V as the largest independent collision repair company in the Capital Region. H&V started as a two-man shop in a small garage on Oakwood Avenue in Troy in the early 1970s.
In 2006, H&V completed a major expansion at the Oakwood Avenue facility that added 6,00 square feet to the facility and some of the most modern equipment available. In 2008, H&V opened a North Country location on Quaker Road in Queensbury. H&V undertook its largest expansion, opening a major facility on Central Avenue in Colonie.
As part of that commitment, H&V became the first collision facility in the region to partner with VeriFacts Automotive, to provide independent, third party verification and review of work and repairs at H&V locations.