Friday, 05 October 2018 13:51

VECO Experts CEO Speaks at CAA East Bay September Meeting

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Mark Olson of VECO Experts was the featured speaker at California Autobody Association's East Bay chapter meeting on Sept. 19 at the PPG training facility in Concord, CA.


In front of a full house, he discussed the value of OE certifications and outlined his 10 Steps to Predictable Repairs, among other subjects.


Olson was delighted with the turnout and the response he received from the chapter.


"The East Bay chapter of the CAA is strong and the shops really value pertinent and relevant industry information and advice, which is great," Olson said. "There are owners that will travel a fair distance to make these meetings, including from places like Napa and the South Bay, for example."


While taking 10 hours of material and compressing it into a 50-minute presentation, Olson jumped into his "10 Steps to Predictable Repairs.” It's a list that he devised while at VECO Experts in order to help shop owners throughout the country be more efficient. It's a comprehensive to-do list that starts with vehicle scanning and concludes with proper vehicle protection.


"We take a shop through every stage and optimize it, and if shops will follow these steps, they can save a ton of time and money and 'get it right the first time,' which is our company motto," Olson said. "It all starts with a solid estimate, and then everything is documented and laid out for the technician. The problem is [when] the technician does not use the OE procedures---that is when issues arise. Techs will say, 'I've always done it this way forever,’ so it is something that has to be carefully enforced so that it becomes a daily part of everything they do."


A valuable item on Olson's list is #7, which involves the use of a quality sheet/system.


"It's often discarded at shops, but it's so important to every aspect of the repair," he said. "I tell shop owners and managers to avoid making the sheet too complicated; include a peer review system and make certain that all of the blanks are filled in with a check or a signature.



"The biggest issue is when the system is not used as designed or when management does not make it a priority. The form sits on the car's windshield and collects dust. Every time an owner or manager walks by it and ignores it, they're telling their crew that it's okay. I tell shops that they need to enforce it and stay on top of it like their lives depend on it."


Another intriguing topic that Olson introduced is called his "Canary in the Coal Mine" philosophy. One of the 10 Canary in the Coal mine topics is the internal comeback.


"When a car moves from one department to another or goes to a technician, the question is this: Is the vehicle truly ready to enter that next stage? And the answer is often no," Olson said. "With vehicles going back and forth between departments, time and money are wasted and the technician is losing money along the way. We call them internal comebacks and they're the most common types that most shops encounter.


"There are different types of internal comebacks, so we have broken them into three categories---soft, medium and hard. With a soft comeback, the painter just fixes the issue on his own, but it still costs the shop materials and time. A medium comeback is when a painter goes and gets a body technician, losing 20 minutes on average and materials per technician. And with a hard comeback, the vehicle is sent back to the body department, losing at least 30 minutes, a half day of cycle time and materials."


Even the soft comebacks can add up over time, Olson outlined.


"A 200 percent efficient technician with a soft comeback will cost the shop $25 per car in labor and about $10 in material, and the technician will lose one half-hour off their paycheck,” he said. “Research shows that 60--70 percent of all the vehicles coming through the average shop will experience at least a soft comeback."


With 35 years of industry experience, Olson is a co-founder and former COO of VeriFacts Automotive LLC. He left VeriFacts Automotive in October 2016. Currently, he is the CEO of Vehicle Collision Experts LLC (VECO Experts). He is also president of Future Forensics – Automotive Damage Investigations, a company he founded in 1997.



He knows every aspect of the business because he has previously worked as a collision repair and refinish technician, body shop manager and owner. He is a well-known speaker at events such as NACE and SEMA and averages 50--60 events every year.


Prior to Olson's presentation, he and Jennifer Jarzembowski from PPG's automotive refinish development team discussed the value of OEM certifications for shops that are already on programs and/or pursuing others. Following Olson’s presentation, Keith Going of I-CAR did a presentation on the changes and exciting times at I-CAR.


"Needless to say, it was an action-packed night," Olson said.


East Bay Chapter President Tiffany Silva has been hosting large meetings throughout the year, and this one was surely no exception.


"Our September meeting was fantastic with more than 80 people in attendance," she said. "Jennifer Jarzembowski from PPG assisted with the presentation, and Keith Going from I-CAR gave a short presentation of the changes coming. The topics presented by Mark Olson were so relevant and the presentation was just perfect. PPG is an awesome vendor that provides so much support for our industry; Rob Hengemihle and his team are so gracious to host a meeting each year for the chapter, and we can't thank them enough. CAA and I believe that this meeting was undoubtedly the best yet!"