Local news stories affecting the auto body industry in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and West Virginia
Mercedes-Benz USA announced the opening of a new state-of-the-art facility in Jacksonville, Florida that will house four business units including Sales Operations Southern Regional Office; Parts Distribution Center (PDC); Quality Evaluation Center (QEC); and Learning & Performance Center (LPC).
The newly constructed building totaling 415,000 sq. ft. is a leased facility located off of Interstate 95 at 13470 International Parkway. MBUSA plans to take official occupancy in July. Approximately 160 employees are in the new facility, which incorporates innovative environmental systems and design.
A new addition to MBUSA's operation in Jacksonville, the Parts Distribution Center (PDC) supports approximately 70 MBUSA dealers in the Southeast with parts supply. The PDC will house about 15 percent of MBUSA overall parts inventory, shipping over 1.3 million lines annually. MBUSA has four other Parts Distribution Centers in U.S.: Carol Stream, IL, Fontana, CA, Fort Worth, TX and Robbinsville, NJ.
The Learning & Performance Center is a state of the art training facility for dealership and MBUSA personnel. MBUSA facilitates over 120 classes per year in the Jacksonville Learning & Performance Center, with a total of about a thousand participants from across the Southeastern United States. MBUSA operates five Learning & Performance Centers in the U.S.: Houston, TX, Itasca, IL, Jacksonville, FL, Montvale, NJ, and Rancho Cucamonga, CA.
The number of suspicious auto accidents that were staged or deliberately caused by criminals in Florida has increased dramatically in the past year.
A study by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) of questionable claims (QCs) submitted by its insurance company members shows a 58 percent jump from 2008 to 2009.
"South Florida used to be the focal point of these deliberate crashes," said NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle. "While the Miami and Hialeah areas continue to show increased activity, the criminals have expanded their operation northward and Tampa is now at the epicenter of this crime trend."
Wehrle said the number of questionable claims for all insurance fraud increased 15 percent from 2008 to 2009 in Florida. But the 58 percent jump in the staged/caused accident category shows that criminals are taking advantage of the state's no-fault auto accident coverage.
"Previous industry studies have shown that among the 12 states that have no-fault coverage, Florida had the highest rates of fraud and buildup in both bodily injury (BI) and personal injury protection (PIP). The criminals who are staging and deliberately causing these accidents have been doing so because they can file claims for alleged injuries and collect big payments with little risk of getting caught.
Allstate Insurance Company appointed dozens of exclusive agents in the company’s Southern Region last year. Now, the company is ramping up its recruiting again – looking for at least 60 more Southern Region agency owners this year.
In 2009, more than 50 new agents opened Allstate agencies across the Southern Region. This year, Allstate hopes to surpass that goal by focusing on professionals that may feel limited in their careers and are looking to start their own business in a recession resilient industry.
“We see a significant opportunity in the current economy to attract mid-career, mid-level managers to own and operate their own business and represent Allstate,” said Jim Conlan, Allstate’s Southern Region recruiting director. “We’re working with business brokers and through our own recruiters to find professionals with financial or sales backgrounds, who are dedicated to customer service.”
Candidates need a minimum of $50,000 of liquid capital to invest in their agency. Even with the hints of an economic recovery underway, some potential applicants are unsure if now is the right time to invest money needed to open a small business. That’s why recruiters are focusing on the stability of investing in the Allstate brand.
“Allstate is unique among all other insurers because its agents own the economic interest in their business,” said Conlan. “Allstate agents can sell the economic interest in their agency. No other branded insurer has this option.”
CCAR awarded Kendrick Paint & Body with their “GreenLink Shop” certification for its locations in Augusta and Martinez, Georgia and Aiken, South Carolina.
The GreenLink Shop status, an extension of CCAR’s CCAR-GreenLink® Environmental Compliance Assistance Center and S/P2 (Safety and Pollution Prevention) E-learning Program, aims to promote consumer confidence in local automotive repair facilities’ environmental and safety techniques.
Kendrick Paint & Body, which was founded in 1952, operates 3 facilities in Georgia and South Carolina, all of which received this certification.
“We are excited to be recognized as GreenLink Shops,” said Keith Brown, owner of Kendrick Paint & Body, “The feedback from customers and employees has been all positive, and we see the GreenLink Shop as a reward for our efforts to be environmentally responsible.”
Kendrick’s Operations Manager David Clark said that one of the benefits of going through the GreenLink Shop Program was that the company and employees were able to learn how to dispose of any waste incurred in the shop properly.
“We’re reaching out to a younger generation that is more concerned about the environment,” said Clark. All 3 locations are using waterborne paints to reduce their environmental impact as well as recycling old tires and metal scraps.
Georgia joins 27 other states in passing laws banning drivers from sending text messages while driving. The governor signed House Bill 23 which prohibits young people under age 18 from texting or using cell phones while driving.
He also signed Senate Bill 360 which prohibits drivers over 18 from texting. These bills become effective July 1, 2010. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 from crashes involving a distracted or inattentive driver, and more than half a million were injured. Research also shows that the worst offenders are the youngest and least experienced drivers: men and women under 20 years of age.
“These laws are a positive step forward in the effort to make our roadways safer,” said Micaela Isler southeast regional manager for PCI. “House Bill 23 aims to assist our least experienced drivers in Georgia to be as safe as possible by banning cell phone use. The use of cell phones while behind the wheel is a significant source of distraction, but it represents one of many distractions that can lead to a crash.
By passing Senate Bill 360 Georgia is sending a strong message that all drivers have a responsibility to exercise good judgment in all of their driving activities. Although news media has focused attention on cell phone use and texting; navigation systems, eating and drinking as well as personal grooming can all serve as distractions that compromise road safety.”
The Georgia Collision Industry Association (GCIA) held its 4th Annual labor rates survey for Georgia in June. This was the first year the association utilized an online survey option as well as a phone method.
Specialty Paint and Body in Athens, GA, recently converted its painting system to waterborne paint techniques.
The use of waterborne paints lessens the release of volatile organic compounds that evaporate from liquids such as paint, paint thinner and gasoline.
Specialty Paint and Body already manages their environmental impact by composting shredded office paper, and recycling most plastic and metal car parts, paper and cardboard. It also reuses plastic sheeting to protect car parts during the repair process.
Georgia SB 360, also known as Caleb’s Law, named after a teen who died in a December car crash while texting and driving, has been signed by Governor Sonny Perdue. The law forbids texting while driving in the state of Georgia. The state now joins 27 others that have enacted similar bans. The Georgia law applies not just to writing a text message while driving, but also to the sending of it or the reading of “any text-based communication” on a “wireless telecommunications device.” Wireless telecommunications device means a cellular telephone, a text-messaging device, a personal digital assistant, or a stand alone computer. Starting July 1, drivers who are caught reading, writing or sending any kind of text message, including emails, could face a $150 fine and a point on their driver’s license.
The Governor also signed a separate law, House Bill 23, that forbids anyone under 18 from using a cell phone while driving. Young drivers caught using a cell phone while behind the wheel may be fined $150, and if they become involved in an accident while on the phone, the fine doubles to $300.
Writes Randy: “I was born in Cleveland Ohio, and grew up in a small city called Wickliffe where four siblings, a nephew and I were raised by my single mother. Since I can remember I’ve had a pencil in my hand, drawing. I couldn’t get enough of it and had a passion for cars.
Nothing can beat old American Muscle cars: Camaros, Cudas, Mustangs, etc. While looking for a way to implement both of my passions into one for a career, I found OTC. Here is where I developed these passions through the collision and repair and custom paint courses.
One day my class was told about a contest to design a picture for a tiger statue for the 2010 Year of The Tiger Celebration. The Year of The Tiger public art project celebrates Cleveland’s Asian Town community. St. Clair Superior’s blossoming arts district and its thriving business community. The project is in commemoration of the Chinese Year of the Tiger which began with the new moon February 14, 2010.
I knew I wanted to do something noble, strong. A protector. The tiger statue was given to me where the first thing I started ground off the main under the jaw. The second thing was laying out my design. Third, start sculpting the armor out of a material called magic sculpt. This product gets rock hard and needs to be sanded. The wings have a metal frame that is welded together and actually sit over the tiger’s shoulders like a saddle and then I put magic sculpt over the frame. And fourth, I painted and cleared it and the finished product is what you see here.
During this creation I received help and encouragement from some people that I would like to thank, Mr. Downy, Mike Donahue, and Mr. Gold.
Leading automotive trade school Ohio Technical College is excited to announce The Rich Evans Academy; a three-month advanced collision repair and customizing program where students will learn fabrication, welding, water-borne painting and fiberglass molding, among other advanced skills.
Rich Evans, is an Autobody News columnist and owner of Huntington Beach Bodyworks in California, is a custom car builder, painter and TV personality who has appeared on such shows as “Monster Garage” and “Pimp My Ride.”
As part of the new partnership, he will work with OTC to develop a real-world curriculum based on decades of experience designing and building one-of-a-kind vehicles. Evans will also assist OTC in outfitting the Rich Evans Academy shop with the tools, training aids and equipment needed to facilitate the program.
“The new Rich Evans Academy is an advanced, concentrated course designed to give students employable skills that many of their peers will not have after graduation. We are excited to partner with Rich, who shares his years of experience with our students as well as our instructors,” said Tom King, director of Enrollment, OTC.