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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

Christian Brothers Automotive opened their first franchise location in Florida last month, located at 23650 Venezia Drive in Land O’Lakes.

The location is equipped with nine service bays and encompasses nearly 5,000 square-feet. Land O’Lakes franchise owner Larry Giannone and his wife, Cindy, of Tampa decided to invest in the company “because of its values,” he said according to the Land O’Lakes Patch.

“It’s a faith-based franchise,” Giannone said. The honesty and integrity of the business is what drew Giannone, a 20-year industry veteran, in.

The franchise prides itself on taking time for repairs and getting them done right, the first time.

“We’re not a quick-service,” Giannone said. “An oil change will take about 40 minutes.”

Giannone is on site every day, and the business’ shuttle service will drop customers off back at home or a shopping center, then return to pick them up once their service is complete.

Ray Gunder of Gunder’s Auto Center has been pressing insurers to provide full compensation to his customers for “necessary processes and materials needed to properly and thoroughly repair his customer’s vehicles” through filing litigation against the insurer, specifically State Farm, on the customer’s behalf.

The first instance required a lawsuit to be levied against the insurer by Gunder brought the matter of unpaid procedures and paint and material invoicing to court and was settled during a court ordered mediation and actual litigation was avoided. State Farm agreed to pay all the procedural and material invoicing as well as Gunder’s legal fees and costs associated with that case against them. Shortly after that settlement, once again, on behalf of his customer, Ray found it necessary to file yet another lawsuit against the nation’s largest personal auto insurer to compel them to provide reasonable compensation for necessary processes and related paint and materials. Just moments before going before the judge for the first hearing on the matter, the insurer, through their legal team, agreed to pay the entire amount due plus Gunder’s legal fees and costs.

This month, another one of Gunder’s customers was denied consideration for the necessary paint related procedures (i.e. prime, block and feathering aka fill, sand and feather) and the labor called for to re-set electronics on a customer’s vehicle.

Upon the denial, as customary, Ray contacted his customer and explained the denials and short-pay and discussed possible activities to collect. Ray’s customer became extremely agitated and immediately contacted the State Farm claim representative and expressed his dismay, both by phone and in writing via e-mail.

After several calls and discussions, three days later State Farm called the customer to advise that they would pay the paint related “Prime Block and Feathering” and related materials as well as re-setting the vehicle’ electronics, including resetting the programmed stations in the radio which were noted by Gunder’s prior to performing the repair which required disconnecting the battery.

The customer, elated wrote the following to Ray; “I am, as always…. totally satisfied with the work Gunder’s did on my Nissan. they make it an art…. and that is precisely why I have been a loyal customer since about 1976. my largest claim with Gunders, has been over $48,000.00. I had a new silver CLK55 AMG Mercedes. a work truck turned in front of me and I hit him hard. Gunder’s did such a superb job, that when my lease was up, the Mercedes rep couldn’t even tell it had been wrecked. I most certainly hope i don’t have another, but if I do, it will go right back to ray Gunder’s body shop.”

When asked for a comment Ray stated: “The customer’s comments say it all for me. That’s what we’re here for and that’s all we want to do… serve our customers with the best possible service and quality workmanship we can…it appears we have met that goal and we’ll continue to do just that  and just keep pounding that rock!”

Florida Senate Bill 540, the companion bill of Florida House Bill 885, has died in the senate.

Kia's West Point, GA, plant hit a milestone on Leap Day this year--500,000 vehicles produced.

The plant, which opened on Nov. 16, 2009, hit this accomplishment just over two years after production started, according to USA Today. The plant's milestone vehicle was a white pearl Optima SX, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Kia added two additional work shifts to the plant recently, boosting total employment to 3,000. Kia also invested $100 million in to the plant, expanding its total capacity to 360,000 units per year.

"Building 500,000 vehicles in just over two years is quite a milestone for our first U.S. manufacturing plant to accomplish," said Byung Mo Ahn, CEO for Kia Motors America. "Their {team members} dedication to building world-class, high-quality vehicles is apparent in each vehicle we produce."

The Georgia Collision Industry Association (GCIA) is encouraging all Georgia shops to participate in the 6th Annual Georgia Collision Industry Labor Rate Survey.

An amendment may be offered to Florida House Bill 1101 that would eliminate the current 80 percent threshold for a total-loss vehicle to receive a certificate of destruction, thus allowing potentially unsafe vehicles to be branded as “repairable” and put back on the roads. The amendment would allow insurers to determine whether the vehicle receives a certificate of destruction.

The Automotive Service Association is opposed to this amendment because it could:

  • Allow unsafe vehicles to operate on Florida’s highways. The amendment would require dangerous vehicles to be branded “repairable” when such vehicles should not be put back on the roads as they cannot be adequately repaired to operate safely.
  • Allow insurance companies to determine whether or not a vehicle should obtain a certificate of destruction. Without the current 80 percent threshold that requires a total-loss vehicle to obtain a certificate of destruction, vehicles that should not be repaired can be returned to the roads.
  • Create dangers for consumers who would be unable to identify the level of damage that a vehicle has sustained since the vehicle branding will not reflect the actual designation of the vehicle as “unrebuildable.” This language would put drivers at risk by removing the only guarantee for consumers to ensure that their vehicles are safe to operate on Florida’s roads.
  • Permit unsafe vehicles that are supposed to be dismantled and crushed by automotive recyclers to be sold as “repairable,” creating a situation where the source of undamaged recycled parts will be seriously diminished and local jobs most definitely compromised.
  • Increase the risk for criminal activity as vehicles that are badly damaged would be allowed to obtain a clean title and sold to unsuspecting purchasers.

To view the full text of the bill, as well as ASA’s letter to the legislature opposing the amendment, visit ASA’s legislative website at