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
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Guy Sisson, owner of Sisson’s Body Works in Delevan, NY, spent two years restoring a 1937 Packard Club Sedan for his daughter’s 2010 wedding. Recently, he entered the car in the LKQ Triplett annual calendar contest. With over 300 entries, Sisson’s car made the top 13 finalists and was assured a spot in the calendar. On Sept. 4, Sisson was notified that his car was picked as the Grand Prize winner to be featured on the calendar cover. The grand prize includes an all-expense paid trip to Las Vegas to be recognized at the SEMA show.
The story about Guy Sisson and his 1937 Packard began 25 years ago. A local farmer had bought it from an old farm auction where the vintage car had been stored in a barn. The farmer took it home, tore it apart and quickly realized it was much more than he could handle.
When a hybrid vehicle pulled into Audra Fordin’s repair shop for the first time three years ago, she froze.
The fourth-generation mechanic had spent her life honing her under-the-hood skills, but realized she was ill-equipped for the influx of high-tech, fuel efficient cars that were gaining traction.
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Keith and Ken Romig, who own Morgantown Auto Parts, celebrated 25 years in business by offering a free lunch to the public on Sept. 6.
Sandwiches, cold salads, drinks, and snacks were offered under several tents and tables set up in the shop parking lot. Parked cars overflowed onto South Mulberry Street as dozens of patrons came and went. Some were passing through and helped themselves to a soft drink and a scoop of macaroni salad, while others came to enjoy a meal and congratulate the Romigs and their employees on a quarter century of good commerce.
Ken Romig, co-owner and President of the Morgantown NAPA, first began working at the shop at 108 S. Mulberry St. as a summer job between his college classes. Once he finished with school in 1987, Ken, along with his father Lester, purchased the business (then a Big A Auto Parts) from its owner, John Zajac. In 1998 the shop changed to a NAPA franchise and Keith, who was employed at the shop, came in as a co-owner in 1999 following the passing away of Lester Romig. Regardless of the brand on the sign, the Romig’s have always tied a portion of their success to their employee’s experience.
Police have accused an alleged career burglar with a string of area burglaries and burglary attempts, including the attempted burglary of a body shop.
On Aug. 15 at 7:30 a.m., Dobb’s Autobody employees told police that a burglar unsuccessfully tried to pry open two of the body shop’s storage sheds. In addition, they reported the burglar stole a car from the lot and used it to smash open the body shop’s gate.
Detectives discovered a lone suspect scaled the fence and left behind a bicycle. A statewide alert was issued on the burglary and the description of the stolen car, a 2003 Ford Taurus.
New York authorities recently announced that a Long Island, NY, man was arrested and charged with multiple felonies after allegedly stealing more than $648,000 in premiums from a client and spending the money on country club memberships, luxury car payments, and gambling trips.
Joseph Koch, 54, was arrested by Nassau County district attorney’s investigators and charged with three counts of grand larceny in the second degree, grand larceny in the third degree, and scheme to defraud in the first degree.
In an exchange of several letters between body shop owner Don Harvey of International Collision Service in Englewood, NJ, and State Farm, the problem of material reimbursement is yet to be answered.
Harvey initiated the request in a letter to State Farm CEO Ed Rust in February 2012 to address what he felt was an inadequate paint and materials reimbursement rate. Despite State Farm responding to his queries, Harvey says he still hasn’t received a satisfactory answer to how the reimbursement rate was determined from a “yes or no” question on the insurer’s survey. The yes or no question on the survey he referred to is, “Do you use an automated paint and materials rate calculator?”
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has reported that the owner of a North Side auto repair shop must accept a settlement, pay his former attorney and vacate his North Side business in three weeks, an Allegheny County judge ruled Sept. 10.
The order, written by Judge Michael E. McCarthy, means William Lieberth Sr. must find a new location for Allegheny Auto Body, the shop his father purchased in 1976 and which Mr. Lieberth, a 56-year-old West Deer resident, planned to pass on to his own son when he retired.
It clears the way for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, which is working on a project to expand Route 28, to begin the construction phase that will require the East Ohio Street property currently occupied by Mr. Lieberth, the last property needed for the project.
Judge McCarthy's order enforced a settlement that representatives for PennDOT and Harvey Robins, a former attorney for Mr. Lieberth, said they agreed to in early August. That settlement included a $245,000 payment plus $3,500 in interest, as well as an extension of Mr. Lieberth's move-out date from early August to Oct. 1.
Mr. Lieberth, who fired Mr. Robins Aug. 22, has insisted that he did not agree to the settlement, but today, Judge McCarthy enforced it.
"There can be little real controversy in this matter that an enforceable agreement was reached and must be honored," Judge McCarthy wrote.
He also ordered that PennDOT pay directly to Mr. Robins a fee of $31,565, with the remainder of the settlement sent to Mr. Lieberth.
The Pennsylvania Collision Trade Guild will host the Coalition for Collision Repair Excellence (CCRE) for its next series of legal seminars Sept. 21-22 at the Philadelphia Airport Embassy Suites. Featured guest speakers are collision industry attorneys Erica Eversman and John Parese. This seminar will focus deeper into the legal aspects of running your collision business without third-party interference. Topics will include: avoiding contracts of adhesion; authorization to repair/repair contracts; blueprinting and damage analysis; documenting your services; final billing/getting paid in full; assignment of proceeds/claim.
Cost is $495.99 per person, or $595.99 per person if you register after Aug. 31. Includes breakfast and lunch both days. For more information, email the CCRE office at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.theccre.com or www.pctg.org. Or call The CCRE at (877)700-7743 or the PCTG at (215)342-1818.
Ed Kizenberger, Executive Director of The Long Island Auto Body Repairmen’s Association (LIABRA), says “Here is where the line in the sand is drawn for our industry: big shop, small shop, DRP/non DRP, it does not matter, factor out some or all of your parts profit and tell me how that contributes to your being a healthy viable collision center.
Any percentage of a smaller number results in a giveback of direct profit that comes off your bottom line and goes directly into the insurer’s pocket.
This, with a reduction in frequency and severity, should pretty much freeze our industry in place impacting our ability to attract new workers and train existing ones, invest in new equipment, maintain our facilities, etc. Mind you, the insurer’s argument will be they need to control parts to contain costs. That will help keep consumer’s premium costs “reasonable.” If this issue does not polarize and move our industry to action there will be little left to be concerned about.”
A wounded war veteran and his wife were hoping to find their stolen car but instead found support from strangers across Long Island.
Wounded war veteran Brian Martin of Coram, NY, woke up recently to find his new Jeep had been stolen from his driveway. The 25-year old, who injured his back in Afghanistan, bought the car two weeks prior with his $6,000 severance check.
Coming to their aid, the Recycled Rides program, with the help of State Farm and Long Island Auto Body Repairmen’s Association (LIABRA) member Crestwood Auto Body, donated a 2006 Chevy Impala to the Martin family.
LIABRA gives a special thanks to Chris, Sr. and staff for getting this vehicle prepared so fast for the Martin family.
The give-away was held August 8 at the VFW in Centereach. Many auto body shops and insurance companies on Long Island have been involved with this program, with more than 20 vehicles donated to veterans over the past four years.
The Recycled Rides program was started by the National Auto Body Council.