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Southwestern News

1HomePageMap small sw 0816Local news stories affecting the auto body industry in Arizona, Utah, Arkansas, ColoradoTexas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Louisiana

Catalytic converter theft is on the rise in Killeen, TX. Tracey Williams, owner of Affordable Towing & Recovery in Killeen, told the Killeen Daily Herald that one of her impound yards was hit multiple times.

“They’re just jumping fences and cutting catalytic converters off cars,” she said. “They are getting rid of them and selling copper.”

Craig’s Collision Center announces the Grand Opening of their newest ‘state-of-the-art’ auto collision center at 10836 South Freeway, Fort Worth, Texas 76140.

The location opened for business mid September. It is staffed by experienced senior Customer Service Managers and the facility is managed by John Faulkner who has more than 23 years experience in auto collision repair. For more information visit www.CraigsCollision.com or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Safelite Glass Corp. has been fined $52,000 by the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) for allegedly providing continuing education (CE) courses in the state after its provider registration and course certifications had expired, according to information from the TDI.

According to the final consent order, Safelite initially registered as a continuing education provider (for insurance courses) in May 1993, and, as the state of Texas began using Sircon for administration of the CE program, Safelite registered as a Sircon provider from September 2007 through September 2009, with its registration expiring on September 3, 2009. It re-registered as a provider on December 16, 2009.

The Automotive Service Association (ASA) is concerned about inequities in the Texas Tax Code. Currently, in the Texas Franchise Tax Code, automotive repair and collision shops owned and operated by new or used car dealerships are taxed at half the rate used to tax independently owned automotive repair businesses doing identical work. The tax code classifies dealership sales as "retail" and allows their service and repair business to be included under that banner. Texas independent repairers are seeking similar treatment.

ASA is asking Texas repairers to contact their state legislators and urge them to help stop further audits of the automotive service industry until this issue is resolved.

The Texas  Attorney General  has overruled the Texas Department of Insurance (DOI) in that information contained in a survey of insurers conducted by the DOI be made public. The ruling was in response to a petition by Larry Cernosek of the Houston Auto Body Association, and other members, which was filed under the Texas Freedom of Information Act and the Texas Consumer Bill of Rights.

The Texas DOI and the five major insurers surveyed argued that the documents should be exempt from disclosure requirements because they include insurer's proprietary information, but the Attorney General’s office disagreed, exempting only some items that the insurers deemed trade secrets.

The Attorney General reasoned that even if the DOI told the insurers that their responses would remain confidential, that agreement could not circumvent the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act, saying "We note that information is not confidential under the Act simply because the party that submitted the information anticipated or requested that it be kept confidential."

Thursday, 23 September 2010 16:48

TX-Based Service King Plans National Expansion

Dallas-based Service King plans to embark on an ambitious national expansion led by new president Cathy Bonner that could double revenue over the next five years according to reports in the Dallas Morning News.

The chain of collision-repair centers, founded in 1976 by company chairman Eddie Lennox, recently opened seven shops in Houston and the success of those centers—some were profitable after three months— prompted Lennox to consider the leap outside Texas.

Most of Service King’s 31 shops and 1,000 employees are in the Dallas area. The privately held company, which says it has a 20 percent market share in the area, expects to repair about 70,000 vehicles and earn $150 million in revenue this year.

“We were able to experiment with a lot of things in Houston that might work for us nationally,” said Lennox, 57, a former body-repair man who started Service King in a three-bay tin building in West Dallas.

Bonner, a Dallas native, has no experience with auto repair. But she served as executive director of the Texas Department of Commerce from 1991 to 1994, founded The Women’s Museum in Dallas and has started and managed three marketing and communications firms.

She also is Lennox’s sister-in-law so she knows the Service King culture, Lennox said. Bonner’s primary responsibility will be to develop a strategic plan for growth, determining which markets Service King should enter and overseeing that plan.

“This relates to growth and getting someone who can help us achieve it — and not ex-technicians like myself,” Lennox said.

He believes that planning for major growth requires knowledge that he and his managers don’t have.

“Eddie approached me and convinced me I don’t need to know how to fix a car,” said Bonner, 60, a finalist in 2007 for The Dallas Morning News’ “Texan of the Year” award for her work to pass legislation creating the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. “I just get to build on their success.”

Bonner said she intends to have a growth strategy plan completed by the first of the year.

“I had a lot of experience identifying new markets and bringing in corporations when I was with the state,” said Bonner, who was part of a team of officials in the early 1990s that helped convince General Motors Corp. to not close its assembly plant in Arlington.

Service King offers several programs that Lennox says are unique— including a computer program developed by vice president Jeff McFadden that allows insurers to monitor and audit the entire repair process.

“We also have some operations programs that [vice president] Danny McKinley put into place that no one else does, and those products really made me more bullish on growth,” Lennox said.

Despite its moves to get larger, Service King has no interest in going public, said Lennox, who holds 80 percent of Service King’s stock along with his wife. Managers throughout the company own the remaining 20 percent. “We’re well capitalized, and we have good banking relationships,” he said. “We envision doubling our revenue in three to five years.”