Southeastern News

1HomePageMap small se 0816Local news stories affecting the auto body industry in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and West Virginia

The GCIA held their first meeting of 2012 on January 19 at the MAADA Headquarters in Atlanta.

The meeting’s speaker was Dave Gruskos, President of Reliable Automotive Equipment, a New Jersey company that provides repair equipment along with training. Reliable Automotive Equipment’s intention is to support new technology and provide their customers with the correct resources to repair vehicles consistent with manufacturers approved methods and procedures.

Recently, Dave presented at a well-received course during the 2011 SCRS Repairer Driven Education at SEMA. Dave discussed the new repair procedure when working with Aluminum and high strength steel to the 50 or so attendees at the GCIA meeting.

One thing discussed during the GCIA meeting was that heat is the enemy to high strength steel. Some manufacturer’s do not want techs welding at all on these vehicles and have developed ways to rivet and apply adhesives to perform the repair. Dave also talked about self-piercing rivets and flow-form rivets that have to be punched out, not drilled. Then adhesives are used in conjunction with the rivets to create a solid repair.

The equipment and training investment needed to perform these repairs is well over $100,000, not to mention the expensive rivets and adhesives. Dave also reminded everyone to follow the OE recommended repair procedures when working with these vehicles and use OEM parts. Many times the warranties are voided if salvage or A/M parts are used.

Attendees were captivated by the part of Dave’s presentation concerning air bag reaction time. Air bag reaction timing is measured in milliseconds and the timing is critical to occupant safety. Dave had a couple of videos showing the effects of a slowed reaction in air bag timing. The results were shocking; the air bag actually deployed late, the occupant’s head (actually a melon) hit the steering wheel and then the air bag deployed. The melon absolutely exploded. If this would have been a real person, there would have been serious injuries or even death.

For more information about Dave and Reliable Automotive Equipment please visit www.raeservice.com.

In other news, the GCIA will be performing their 6th Annual GCIA Labor Rate survey beginning on March 5. CSi Complete will again perform the survey. This year the group will survey the rate for repairing high strength steels. Since there are different repair procedures and equipment that must be used, the group wants to know what shops are charging for this type of repair. Please visit gacollisionindustry.wordpress.com.

Boyd Group Income Fund announced December 21 that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Master Collision Repair, Inc., which owns a total of eight collision repair centers in the Tampa, Florida market area under the trade name Master Collision Repair. The acquisition is expected to be immediately beneficial to the Fund's earnings and cash flows.

"The acquisition of Master is very strategic as it gives us an industry-leading platform from which to grow in the attractive Florida market, further demonstrating our commitment to expanding our business," said Brock Bulbuck, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Boyd Group. "MCR's business model and customer base are similar to Boyd's, which should result in a smooth integration with our existing business. Further, we assess that there is a tremendous opportunity for accretive add-on growth in Florida, building from the foundation and base of MCR. The acquisition of Master also further solidifies Boyd's leading industry position and enhances our opportunity to capitalize on the trend of U.S. insurance companies consolidating Direct Repair Program volumes and showing increased preference for dealing with large multi-location operators. The Boyd Group, currently the largest multi- location collision repair operator in North America in terms of annual sales and number of locations, continues to look for opportunities to grow its operation. We remain focused on successful execution and integration of acquisitions to increase our profitability and drive value for our unitholders."

The transaction, valued at approximately $11.5 to 12.0 million subject to working capital adjustments, was completed on January 4, 2012. Funding for the transaction was completed through a combination of cash, third party financing and a seller note. The Fund will not be issuing any new equity to fund the transaction and, therefore, the transaction will not result in equity dilution to unitholders.

MCR is a leading provider of automotive collision repair services in the Tampa Bay area, a market in west central Florida. With eight operating locations and additional locations under consideration, MCR generated sales of approximately $20 million in the 12 months ended October 31, 2011. The Fund forecasts that MCR will add annual Earnings before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization of approximately $2.0 - $2.5 million to its consolidated EBITDA, including synergies. Upon completion of the acquisition, the Boyd Group will operate a total of 175 locations spanning 14 U.S. states and 4 Canadian provinces.

To view the Boyd Group's expected North American coverage after the acquisition of Master, please visit: http://www.boydgroup.com/i/maps/BoydGroupMap2011-Florida.jpg

ABRA Auto Body & Glass, a Minnesota-based multiple-shop operation with locations in 12 U.S. states, announced on January 6 the opening of a state-of-the-art repair center in Roswell, Georgia.

The new facility is located at 740 Holcomb Bridge Road and increases the total number of ABRA repair centers to 113.

Charlie Drake, Vice President of ABRA's Georgia market said, "We are looking forward to servicing customers in the Roswell community. Our mission is to be the best auto body & glass company in America. Opening this center is another important step toward achieving that goal."

The new repair facility is equipped with all the latest technology to maintain high standards and assure top quality repairs. Staff technicians have extensive experience and receive rigorous ongoing industry training.

Duane Rouse, ABRA’s Chief Executive Officer said, “The opening of the Roswell center strengthens our brand in the Georgia market. It’s part of our overall strategy to meet the growing needs of vehicle owners and insurance partners throughout the region.”

For more information please visit www.abraauto.com.

On December 20th, Auto Angels, in association with The Mid Florida chapter of Florida Auto Body Collision Alliance (FACA), presented 12 reconditioned vehicles to a dozen local families at Victory Church in Lakeland, FL, to make for very special Christmas for all involved.

Cheers and tears erupted throughout the ceremony as keys to newly reconditioned vehicles were presented and the pre-selected and notified men, women and children were led to their newly reconditioned vehicle by an Auto Angel.

David Stewart, This year’s Auto Angels Chairman stated: “Getting twelve vehicles ready turned out to be a massive undertaking and couldn’t have been accomplished without the hard work and resources of many dedicated professionals; but the sacrifices paled in comparison to the feeling of accomplishment each of us felt in seeing the faces of the recipients. It was amazing and the true spirit of Christmas giving was felt by all. A special thank you to the Auto Angels’ committee, whom without their hard work and dedication, this very worthwhile program couldn’t have been possible."

The Auto Angle’s committee members include:
David Stewart, Chairman, Stewart’s Auto Repair
Ray Gunder, Past Chairman, Gunder’s Auto Center
Barrett Smith, Auto Damage Experts, Inc.
Cherri Surrency, Stewart’s Auto Repair
Nick McLeisch, Maurice’s Body Shop/Towing
Doc Jenkins, Jenkins Lincoln Mercury Collision Center
Michael Meisner, Meisner’s Paint and Body
Paul Hawk, Bernie’s Body Shop
Mike Maskolunas, Bartow Ford

For more information or on how you may participate in next year’s Auto Angels program, contact David Stewart @ david@stewartautorepair.com or call (863) 965-2030

Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes A-Plus™ Network recently held its annual Vision Group Conference at the Naples Grand Beach Resort in Naples, FL. The conference provided the more than 80 leading collision shop owners and managers with world-class training, top industry speakers and group breakout sessions, all with a focus on succeeding—and growing—in a difficult economic climate.

The A-Plus Network is made up of an exclusive group of collision repair specialists who reflect the industry’s highest standards. They are part of the Sherwin-Williams leading value-added program that combines comprehensive business solutions to help them improve customer service, employee growth, insurance relationships, process refinement, productivity and profitability.

The conference agenda featured many outstanding industry leaders and speakers from the collision repair and business arena, including:
● Bob Lane, Managing Partner of Robert Lane and Associates, a leading business advisory headquartered in Toronto, delivered the keynote on ‘How to compete and win in today’s business world’. Bob educated the group about undergoing a journey of change, business intellect, competitive advantage, and understanding of what is going on in the world around you. Bob shared his wealth of experiences and knowledge with all attendees to help them know what they need to have in business today to not only succeed, but to win.
● Darren Fristoe, President, The Fristoe Group, and Dan Bailey, former President, CarStar Collision Centers, discussed the hot topic of ‘Succession Planning,’ an in-depth look into the long term reality of each attendee’s company—and how to prepare their business for future generations and/or how to make it more attractive to potential purchasers
● Steve Feltovich, Manager of Business Consulting Services, Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes, presented ‘Beyond Lean;’ a deep dive into shop analytics, succession planning and the next key steps for collision industry facilities to adopt as they go further along their lean journey
● Matt Ohrnstein, Principal at Matt Ohrnstein Advisors, a top automotive industry consultant,  took the group through the state of the industry—today and tomorrow—and what to expect when collision repair center owners open their third, fourth or even tenth location

After keynote and featured speakers, a number of breakout sessions were held in tandem with peer-to-peer discussion groups throughout the three-day event. The discussion groups gave attendees the chance to review financial performance, discuss lean implementation, build marketing plans and define their goals.

“Our annual conference continues to support and educate our Vision Group members, giving them the competitive edge to succeed in this challenging environment,” said Troy Neuerburg, Manager of Marketing Business Services at Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes. “The conference is just one of several meetings our Vision Group Members attend and all are designed to keep their businesses at the industry forefront.”

Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes began the A-Plus Network Vision Group Program in 2000 and now has two independent owners groups, one manager’s group, two dealership collision center groups and one Canadian collision facility leadership group. These groups consist of both single and multiple shop owners and managers. Square One Systems, Inc., one of the premier independent “20-Group” providers in the industry, administers and moderates the A-Plus Network Vision Groups.

A-Plus Network members not only benefit through their Vision Group participation, but are also assisted by the program’s many business-building opportunities. These include specialized marketing and management programs, industry leading business training through A-Plus Network University, insurance relations programs, loyalty benefits and specialized programs and services from outstanding contributors.

For more information visit www.a-plusnetwork.com.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011 21:03

Fire at Venice, FL, Auto Shop Under Investigation

Sarasota County fire officials are investigating what caused a fire at an auto body repair shop in Venice, FL, on December 7 that caused extensive damage to the building, sent smoke through adjacent neighborhoods and disrupted traffic during the morning commute. No one was injured in the fire.

The fire was in an industrial park on James Street, east of the U.S. 41 Bypass. Twenty firefighting units from Venice, Sarasota County and Nokomis responded.

Firefighters arrived at 7:03 a.m. to see smoke coming from the building. First responders were on the scene within seven minutes. At least 45 firefighters started a defensive attack from the outside of the auto body and cabinet shops.

Within minutes the building was fully involved, according to county fire officials. Battalion chief Glenn Snyder said the fire was out within 90 minutes.

Fire officials said there was a woodworking shop in the rear, and an auto body shop in front. Many of the vehicles in the repair shop's parking area, some with for sale signs on them, suffered damage in the fire.

Traffic was re-routed around the area for the majority of the morning.

The assistant chief says they did not have to worry about search and rescue because of the time of day.

“The main concern of the incident commander was to first confine the fire to make sure it did not spread to the adjacent buildings and to actually locate the seed of the fire, and then begin the extinguishment,” the assistant chief said.

No one was injured. There is no estimation of the damages to the two buildings at this time, but they appear to be destroyed.

The State Fire Marshal will continue with the investigation.