Local news stories affecting the auto body industry in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and West Virginia
Daniel Anderson was named as Florida’s lead insurance fraud investigator earlier this month by Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, according to Claims Journal.
Anderson will take over as the director of the state’s Division of Insurance Fraud, where he will oversee 155 sworn law enforcement officers, managers and administrators. He will also supervise 48 non-sworn civilian support staff. The division made over 1,000 fraud-related arrests in the last year.
Anderson comes to the division after a 25-year career with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration where he most recently served as an associated special agent in charge of the DEA’s New York Field Division overseeing more than 800 employees.
He also served as an instructor at the DEA Academy, group supervisor at the DEA’s Norfolk, Virginia office, and unit chief of operations management at the DEA headquarters.
Mercedes-Benz said December 2 that its Alabama plant has produced its 1.5 millionth vehicle, according to the Birmingham News.
The automaker said the milestone vehicle produced at the Vance factory was a silver ML 350 SUV for a customer in Encino, CA.
"We are extremely proud of this significant milestone," Markus Schaefer, CEO of the Alabama plant, said in a statement. "This year has been both challenging and rewarding for our team members, who live and work here in Alabama to help us achieve our goal of delivering superior products to our global customers."
The first M-Class rolled off the assembly line in Vance on Feb. 14, 1997. The plant employs 2,800 people, a figure that will rise to 4,200 as Mercedes invests another $2 billion in the operation and begins production of new models.
Collex Collision Experts, a multi-shop operation with facilities in Michigan and Florida, was awarded CSi Complete’s “Clearly Elite” award for customer satisfaction at the 2011 SEMA Show.
“CSi Complete is blessed to have many outstanding customers, but Collex Collision is most deserving of our 2011 Clearly Elite customer of the year award,” said David Merrell, vice president of sales and service for CSi Complete. “Collex Collision Experts is a valued partner and an exceptional customer service organization.”
Merrell went on to say that the MSO won the award as a result of the company’s continuously high customer service indexing (CSI) and its community involvement.
“It’s a true pleasure to be in an industry that allows me to not just serve people, but give me the opportunity to get to know people’s needs on a much more personal level, always building effective healthy relationships,” said Amanda Gottschling, CSR at Collex in Clinton Township, MI.
Collex serves its surrounding communities by always giving back. Founders of the Wheels of HOPE Outreach program, Collex gives cars to families in need. They’re also platinum sponsors and partners with Safe Haven 4 Kids of Michigan, a program to help abused children.
For more information visit www.collex.com.
The National Auto Body Council (NABC) announced the winners of the 16th annual Pride Awards on November 2 at the 2011 SEMA Show. The NABC began bestowing the awards on deserving individuals in the collision repair industry to further their mission to create positive public awareness of the collision repair industry.
Jessica Anderson, a student of collision repair at Wiregrass Georgia Technical College, was the only student to receive a Pride Award this year. Anderson is a Skills USA participant who decided she wanted to use her collision training to help people in her community. She observed plenty of students in need of affordable, reliable transportation and saw plenty of cars in the area just waiting to be fixed. Utilizing the resources at her school, she brought a car in need of repair to the mechanical department of her school, then she and her team of dedicated students and instructors finished the collision repair work. That project went to a fulltime criminal justice student with a family of four, previously without transportation. This is to be the first in series of reconstructed vehicles that will be donated to Wiregrass Georgia Technical College students recommended by their instructors. Jessica is working with instructor Mark Tilson to procure more cars and expand the program into the community.
Other Pride Award winners included Jordan Hendler, Joe Gloar, Derek Willemson and Richard Henegar Jr. for heroic efforts in their individual communities. More information about each award winner can be found at www.autobodycouncil.org.
Daimler will further expand its U.S. plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama: as of 2015, an entirely new Mercedes-Benz model will roll off the production line as its fifth product. The plant has been the traditional production site of the brand's M-, GL-, and R-Class SUVs and will also build the C-Class for the North American market beginning 2014. For the production of the new model, Daimler will additionally invest US$ 350 million, and will create some 400 further jobs at the plant.
Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Daimler Board of Management and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars: "This new model from the Tuscaloosa plant is an important element of our growth strategy. It is one of the ten additional models which we will introduce within the next four years alone across all segments." Referring to the Tuscaloosa plant's role within the global production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Zetsche added: "At the same time, we are systematically broadening our manufacturing footprint in the NAFTA region."
Robert Bentley, Governor of the State of Alabama: "Since the time Mercedes-Benz chose Tuscaloosa County for its first US assembly plant 18 years ago, the company has proven to be an outstanding partner for the state. We join MBUSI in celebrating this milestone, and welcome the hundreds of jobs this announcement brings to Alabama."
A mid-year update reveals that the "Auto Angels" are on target for this year’s Christmas giveaway of reconditioned vehicles to needy recipients.
“Thanks to the support of many sponsors and the collision repairers involved in this program, thus far we have five vehicles which will be ready at the end of July," said David Stewart of Stewart’s Auto Repair in Winterhaven, Fla.
These include a:
• 2001 Ford Escort four-door
• 1999 Neon four-door
• 2002 Chrysler Voyager van
• 2001 Grand Marquis
• 1991 Nissan Pathfinder SUV
The National Auto Body Council (NABC) changed the lives of five Florida families on Oct. 7 at the NACE convention in Orlando by giving them each a newly refurbished vehicle through Recycled Rides, a national initiative that refurbishes donated vehicles and gives them to families in need and organizations dedicated to assisting others.
The Florida Autobody Collision Alliance contributed to the success of this program this year. With NACE being held in Orlando, Cathy Mills executive director was contacted to assist in the coordinating for this year’s program. What an absolute honor and privilege to have been involved in such a program where the gifting of these cars to these so deserved families would change their lives forever. These families where using public transportation and spending anywhere from 3-6 hours a day on buses. Going to the everyday places/appointments you and I take for granted. Grocery shopping, doctors appointments, and work.
The program works with charities in specific geographic areas to find qualified recipients that need a vehicle on which they can depend to continue leading productive lives.
Marenza Guyos and her four-year-old daughter from Jacksonville, Fla., received their vehicle in conjunction with the charity Community Connections located in the same city.
Following Ray Gunder’s charge alleging altered documents that show State Farm’s manipulation of their market survey of rates and allowances, State Farm has elected to pay the charged amounts of Gunder’s Auto Center and avoid further discovery of its business records. See sidebar.
In seeking discoverable information pertinent to three separate lawsuits by three of Gunder’s customers (of which Gunder was acting on behalf of each customer through power-of-attorney) State Farm’s refusal/failure to provide the requested documentation within the time-frame provided resulted in a court’s order compelling the nation’s largest personal auto insurer to comply and present the subpoenaed records ‘or else.’
As a result, State Farm first made overtures of a global settlement to avoid further litigation (and discovery) by inviting Gunder’s to mediate the more than 30 pending lawsuits pressed against them on behalf of Gunder’s customers for claims including, but not limited to Tortious Interference against State Farm employees including Larry Swearengin and Bob Davis as well as Breach of Contract and Bad Faith claims against State Farm Insurance.
While guarded, Ray Gunder agreed and thus the Contempt of Court hearing scheduled for September 22nd was postponed and mediation was scheduled for October 6th, 2011.
The 15th Annual GCIA Invitational Golf Tournament was held on Wednesday, October 12th, 2011 at the Trophy Club of Atlanta in Alpharetta, GA.
The GCIA thanked everyone who participated and especially the events sponsors: BASF, DuPont, PPG, Single Source, 3M, Akzo/Nobel, FinishMaster, Sherwin-Williams, LKQ, RBM of Atlanta, Enterprise Staff, and National Coatings & Supplies.
For more information please visit gacollisionindustry.wordpress.com.
Mississippi voters will have three candidates to choose from in the race for Mississippi Insurance Commissioner come the Nov. 8 general election: Republican incumbent Commissioner Mike Chaney, Democrat Louis Fondren, and Reform Party candidate Barbara Dale Washer, according to gulflive.com.
The position has a four-year term and $90,000 annual salary.
As the incumbent, Chaney’s campaign emphasis has been his achievements during his time in office. According to Chaney, his in-office accolades include; modernization of the department’s records system, streamlining of the agent licensing process, collection of more than $4 million in refunds and additional claims for policyholders, transfer of $99.9 million to state’s windpool to help stabilize rates, an increase of 125 new companies writing policies on the Coast, and a $1 million program that led to grants for homeowners who strengthened their homes against wind damage. Chaney describes his campaign as grassroots.
Chaney, who served in the Mississippi House of Representatives from 1993 to 1999, and in the Mississippi State Senate from 2000-2008, was elected as Insurance Commissioner in 2007.
Fondren, a self-employed attorney-at-law and previous public defender of Jackson County from 1977 to 1981, will focus his campaign on being a “friend to policyholders” through stopping rate increases. Part of the way he would do that, he said, is to involve a public actuary—a professional who analyzes the financial consequences of risk—in insurance premium hearings.
Fondren plans to spend the few weeks before the election spreading his message both on the Coast and beyond. At press time Fondren planned to speak at the AARP in Hattiesburg during the last week of October, at the Mississippi Economic Council’s Hobnob Mississippi in Jackson on Nov. 2, and at the Tupelo Chamber on Nov. 4.
Fondren also served in the Mississippi House of Representatives from 1972 to 1976 and was Mayor of Moss Point, MS, from 1969 to 1971.
Like Fondren, Chaney also plans to speak at the Mississippi Economic Council’s Hobnob Mississippi.
Washer, a retired teacher from Hattiesburg, will focus on achieving a balance between lowering rates and attracting new business, providing free windshield replacement for auto policyholders, and making sure that insurance companies do not breach contracts, according to the candidate.
For more information please visit www.mid.state.ms.us.