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
Leif’s Auto Collision Centers, Oregon
A long-established New York auto body shop owner who has successfully won over $1 million from insurance companies announced recently lawsuits seeking nearly $3 million from the trio of State Farm, Allstate and Adirondack Insurance.
The owner of a Watertown, NY, auto body repair shop said plans for an additional location in the town of Pamelia remain indefinite, following the County Planning Board’s site plan review March 27.
Junior J. Stefanini, owner of Body Pros, 17940 U.S. Route 11, submitted plans for a project that includes a 100-foot-by-200-foot auto body repair building, a 60-foot-by-160-foot retail plaza with four storefronts and a 50-foot-by-100-foot storage building on a 15-acre site on U.S. Route 11, next door to Space Age Pools and Spas. According to Andrew R. Nevin, senior planner for the Jefferson County Planning Department, the proposed business would generate about 20 employees. The Planning Board sent the project back to the town of Pamelia as “a local concern” with some comments made about the site’s layout.
“We’re noting that the local board should consider the need possibly to relocate parking to the side or rear of the buildings or require additional landscaping to buffer the front yard and this other side yard per their zoning law requirements,” Mr. Nevin said.
The Planning Board said the plans should also include more details about anticipated drainage from parking lots to assess the possible impact on a stream that runs along the back of the property.
While Mr. Stefanini said the submitted site plan may not necessarily the exact one he would want to construct, he is hoping to eventually offer more business to the Fort Drum community.
“Sometime in the future I look forward to building in the town of Pamelia, but as of right now, I have no plans of breaking ground any time soon,” Mr. Stefanini said. “It really just comes down to what it’s going to cost to build something.”
He added, “I hope to build a body shop out there in the near future and, hopefully, bring more jobs to the area.”
A sixth Baltimore Police officer was sentenced April 13 for his role in a massive kickback scheme involving an auto body shop, receiving two years in prison and being ordered to pay $24,000 in restitution.
Officer Rafael Concepcion Feliciano Jr., 31, admitted last year that he referred accident vehicles to the Majestic Auto Body shop in Rosedale after being introduced to the store's owners by a fellow officer, Rodney Cintron, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors estimate that Feliciano alone caused a loss of between $120,000 and $200,000. U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake sentenced Feliciano to two years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered him to pay restitution of $24,084, of which $10,000 will go to the Baltimore Police Department, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Maryland.
Fifteen officers pleaded guilty in the scheme, and another was convicted by a federal jury, while dozens more were implicated in the probe. The six officers who have been sentenced have received between eight and 30 months in prison, putting Feliciano's sentence on the higher end.
March 28th, 2012---Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (R-Merrick) described the Senate legislation to combat auto insurance fraud which costs New Yorkers more than $1 billion a year. The legislation would create stronger penalties for individuals who commit insurance fraud and stage auto accidents.
“Auto insurance fraud costs New Yorkers over $1 billion every year, driving our already expensive auto insurance premiums even higher. Stronger penalties are needed to combat auto insurance fraud and protect law-abiding drivers from criminals who steal from our pockets and jeopardize our safety,” said Senator Fuschillo, who supported the legislation in the Senate.
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.”