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

This week, a prior Collision Industry Legal Fund contributor sent yet another check for another $2,500 aimed at assisting body shop owner Ray Gunder in his ongoing battle with State Farm Insurance Company. The donation came with a simple note:
“Ray, Thank you for everything you do! You’re the BEST!”

The Collision Industry Fund was established last year to provide financial assistance to Gunder’s Auto Center in Lakeland, Fla., which has been involved in a lawsuit against State Farm for slander and tortious interference, as well as the failure to pay for certain repair procedures. “This mirrors this same contributor’s record donation they provided last year! We remain extremely grateful and thankful for the donation and support” stated Ray Gunder. I’m thankful for all the financial support we’ve received from people we don’t even know from across the country. I’m humbled at the support we’ve received and encouraged to continue on with our efforts to level the playing field.

According to Barrett Smith with Auto Damage Experts; “This fight isn’t just about Gunder’s and our customers, or just about State Farm; it’s about repairers and their customers across the country that face the same issues of abuse daily from many insurers. State Farm has and continues to stall and delay and outspend us but so far, and by the grace of God, we have reached a point I believe will come to a positive outcome sooner than later."

To mail a donation to the fund, make the check out to "The Collision Industry Legal Fund" and send to: Brent Geohagan, Attorney at Law, 3001 Bartow Rd., Lakeland, FL 33803.

Crossroads Chevrolet-Cadillac in Joplin, MO, served as as a collection point for community donations of clothing, food, water and other supplies for those hit hard by the May 22 tornado.

A cluster of General Motors franchise dealers in and near Joplin recently weathered quite a storm and are continuing to pick up the pieces and do the best they can to support their local community in healng. The dealers also recently broke out their checkbooks and more to help the community recover from the single deadliest tornado in national history.

Crossroads Chevrolet-Cadillac was spared by the killer twister, but the automaker said the storm’s wicked winds touched the lives of “nearly everyone working there.”

Dealership owner Dan Auffenberg explained on the Faces of GM blog that on the day after the tornado struck May 22, nine or 10 employees showed up for work. Aufffenberg immediately recognized the severity of the situation and sent them home, saying, “You don’t need to be here. You need to be home helping your families,” according to Auto Remarketing News.

As of that point, five employees of Crossroads had lost their homes to the storm, and the service manager’s wife had lost her mother.

Jackie Cooper Imports, an Oklahoma dealership specializing in luxury import cars, hosted their grand reopening celebration on June 16 at the dealership's location in Tulsa, OK. The dealership has been serving the Tulsa market since August of 1991 and hosted this reopening to celebrate the dealership’s remodel and new building addition.

The Georgia Collision Industry Association (GCIA) conducted their 5th annual labor rates surveys for body shops in the metro Atlanta area earlier this year.

Volkswagen is jumping into the U.S. auto market by opening a new plant in Chattanooga, TN.

At the grand opening of the plant on May 24, the German automaker presented the 2012 Passat as the key to building U.S. sales to 1 million units by 2018. The $1 billion plant has been producing cars since April.

The new Passat will go on sale in Q3 of 2011 for $20,000 a car. That's about $7,000 cheaper than current models built in Germany and close to the prices of such competitors' models as the Ford Fusion, the Toyota Camry, the Honda Accord and the Hyundai Sonata.

Jonathan Browning, president and chief executive officer of Volkswagen Group of America, said the automaker wants to make German engineering more accessible to North American buyers.

"The Passats produced here in Chattanooga will be a key enabler to our growth, allowing us to compete in the core of the midsize sedan segment," Browning told reporters before the unveiling of the plant, according to the Associated Press.

US sales were mixed in May for the three models produced by Mercedes-Benz at its Vance, AL, auto factory.

Sales of the M-Class SUV totaled 1,928, a 15 percent slide from May 2010, the German automaker said June 1, according to the Birmingham News.

But sales rose 237 percent, to 873, for the R-Class crossover. Sales also rose 8.6 percent to 1,885 for the GL-Class full-size SUV.

Overall, a total of 18,886 Mercedes-brand vehicles were sold in the United States during May, a 2 percent rise from a year ago.