Western News

1HomePageMap small w 0816Local news stories affecting the auto body industry in California, NevadaOregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Hawaii, Alaska and Wyoming

G&C AutoBody, with 7 locations in northern California, is spending $2.09 million installing photovoltaic power arrays on three of its seven locations to write off the whole project cost in one year under a special 2011 tax incentive for capital investments, according to reports made by the North Bay Business Journal.

The multiple-shop operation, which is Northern California’s largest collision repair chain north of the Golden Gate Bridge, intends to have installed a $1.3 million system on its Santa Rosa main offices and shop and a $450,000 array on its Petaluma store by the beginning of 2012. This past summer a $340,000 system was installed on a year-old location in Windsor, CA. (See Autobody News March 2011 Edition).

With several federal and state incentives on renewable-energy projects, the 100 percent bonus depreciation federal deduction for “qualified property” projects in 2011 and the potential to offset electricity costs, the three solar projects were a bargain, according to Gene Crozat, president and founder. He’s planning for energy costs to rise significantly in coming years as greenhouse-gas emissions-control measures kick in.

“If you’re a business that uses any electricity, you’re crazy if you don’t take advantage of this,” he told the North Bay Business Journal.

The federal business energy investment tax credit applies to 30 percent of the cost of solar projects completed in the next few years. The state offers a 10 percent performance incentive payable over 60 months.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011 13:24

Mike’s Auto Body Benevolence Program

Christmas arrived a little early for the 11th straight year when five deserving families in Contra Costa County received refurbished vehicles from Mike’s Auto Body in Antioch, CA. The presentation ceremony on December 14 was attended by more than 200 people representing body shops, insurance companies and community leaders.

Over the past decade, Mike’s Auto Body has presented a total of 30 cars to families in need and non-profit organizations through its very own Benevolence Program. Sal Contreras is the marketing director at Mike’s Auto Body and has been the main force behind the program since day one.

“It has been so rewarding over the last ten years presenting the cars to deserving individuals and organizations who are working to improve their skills and become independent,” Contreras said. “Everything is donated—the cars, parts, paint, mechanical inspections, tires and six months of insurance. The body and paint technicians donate their time and talents. AAA of Northern California, Mercury Insurance Group, Safeco, GEICO and Farmers Insurance are participating this year by donating a ‘written off’ vehicle to this effort.”

Mike Rose said he is proud to be a part of the program. “We are in an industry that has the means to get these vehicles road ready,” Rose said. “It’s just a matter of getting all of our vendors on the same page. For the sake of the other applicants that are still in need of reliable transportation, we only hope that more shops can create a similar program of their own to give back to the community.”

Each year, Mike’s Auto Body comes across cars that are “written off” by either the owner or the insurance company. Often times these are older vehicles that just need some mechanical and body work to get them back on the road and perfectly safe to drive. “Because we believe these cars are going to waste when there are people who really need them, we decided to do something about it”, Contreras explained.

Golden State Collision Centers, Inc. will present five rehabilitated vehicles in Sacramento, CA. to families in need. The vehicles will be presented during their annual “Giving Back to the Community Benevolence Event” at 8:30 a.m., December 13, 2011, at the Golden State Collision Center, 7407 Roseville Road, Sacramento, CA.

The Golden State Collision Centers’ “Giving Back to the Community Benevolence Event” has benefited thirteen local families over the past four years with restored vehicles. This year, in conjunction with Farmer’s Insurance Group, GEICO Insurance, Cottage Housing, Inc. and Roseville Home Start, refurbished vehicles will once again be presented to in-need families from the Northern California area.

“Each year, we come across cars that are written off by either the owner or the insurance company. Often these older vehicles are simply in need of mechanical or body work to get them road-ready and safe to drive. In these economic times, Golden State believes there are people who really need them, and this is the basis of this annual program,” said Dave Finkelstein, owner of Golden State Collision Centers, Inc. “We are delighted to be able to not only continue this program but also to increase our donation amounts in a time where people are still suffering economically. The gift of a vehicle is one that truly changes lives and we are honored to be able to connect with our local community in effecting a positive change.”

Local vendors, including AutoWest Dodge, Car Quest, LKQ, Keystone Automotive, Ertl’s Automotive, The Dent Shoppe, John L. Sullivan, Standox, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Farmer’s Insurance Group, GEICO Insurance, and employees of Golden State Collision Centers, Inc. donated their time and services as part of this program.

For more information about Golden State Collision Centers, visit www.goldenstatecollision.com or www.facebook.com/goldenstatecollision.

Thursday, 08 December 2011 09:20

Lexus Mulling Headquarters Move to California

In a step toward possibly moving Lexus' global headquarters out of Japan, the automaker has decided to transfer its global marketing functions from Japan to a new decision-making center in Torrance, California.

According to Automotive News, the shift begins in January with the creation of an office at Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc.'s campus in Torrance. It will handle creative marketing and some brand communications worldwide, said Karl Schlicht, head of Lexus' global product and marketing planning division.

The decision was made last summer and only one person has been appointed to open the unit. The automaker plans to expand staff to three in January.

Executive Vice President Yukitoshi Funo said the move is part of Lexus' attempt to remake itself as a "transnational" -- rather than Japanese -- brand.

Lexus aims to bolster its brand image by strengthening its performance credentials and assuming a more international flavor.

As an example of the new mentality, one executive cited the decision not to serve sushi or offer chopsticks at a Lexus dinner reception held in advance of the Tokyo Motor Show. He said: "We don't want to be blatantly Japanese."

Maaco Auto Body and Paint of Fremont, CA, has been named a ‘Community Hero’ by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) for its participation in a groundbreaking energy conservation program. As a way to conserve energy, Maaco-Fremont voluntarily allows PG&E to remotely turn off its air conditioning when demand spikes.

In its thank you letter, PG&E said that Maaco-Fremont’s participation in the program helped “ensure the grid’s reliability for communities across California ... When less electricity is generated from fossil fuel plants during peak times, fewer greenhouse gases are produced. This means cleaner air for everyone.”

PG&E reports that the program has saved enough energy to power 84,000 homes.

This is not the first time that Maaco-Fremont has embraced a green cause.

“In addition to our participation in the PG&E program we work to continually improve our processes and reduce our impact on the environment,” said Frank Barnard of Maaco-Fremont.

Their efforts began in 2007 when they converted their facility to have ultra-efficient lighting. The following year they installed new paint booths with super-efficient filtering to keep 99.5+ percent of paint pollutants from escaping into atmosphere and converted to low-VOC paints to reduce smog causing chemicals.

In 2009 Maaco-Fremont introduced latest “waterborne” paints in their “Factory Platinum” line to virtually eliminate VOCs with the best paints in the industry and the following year they converted 90 percent of the primer processes from sprayed-on to rolled-on. Process change reduced VOCs, health hazards to employees and waste streams

In 2011 they have also converted their landscaping to drought tolerant plants to eliminate need for watering.

Maaco-Fremont encourages everyone to do their part in protecting the environment. For more information visit www.pge.com.

For more information about Maaco Auto Body and Paint of Fremont, call (510) 745-9770 or visit them online at www.fremont-maaco.com. Maaco-Fremont is located at 37414 Centralmont Place, Fremont, CA 94537.

By Ed Attanasio

On October 19th, 108 golfers of all skill levels attacked Harding Park in San Francisco, a beautiful course that was immaculately maintained in preparation for the Schwab Cup Championship held several weeks later. The 14th Annual Harding Park Tournament brought body shops, insurers, vendors and supporters of the Northern California collision industry to enjoy a sunny day of golf, including networking and 18 holes of fun, followed by a dinner and prize giveaways.

Sponsored by FinishMaster, the Harding Park Tournament is a non-profit event that raises money for Young Life, an organization that mentors adolescents and helps them to be better people. Other sponsors contributing to the tournament were DuPont, PPG,  BASF, Oak Distributors, 3M Company, Norton/Saint Germain, Putnam Buick Pontiac GMC of Burlingame, Fiberglass Evercoat, LKQ, Last Call Marketing and Enterprise Rent A Car.

Putnam Buick Pontiac GMC of Burlingame sponsored a hole-in-one, featuring a 2012 GMC Truck as the prize and FinishMaster also sponsored a hole-in-one offering a $10,000 cash prize. Since no one even came remotely close to sinking an ace on either hole, the car and money are still extremely safe and should remain so for many years to come.

First place for the tournament went to Yong Chun Ko from Ks California, with James Berringer and Jeff Parker. The second place team consisted of Pat Bethel and Justin Lamonica. Ko is quickly becoming a collision industry golf icon, capturing first the Santa Clara County CAA’s tournament and now this event.