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Saturday, 02 August 2008 12:16

Linda Holcomb Plays Hand She Is Dealt, Hits a Grand Slam in Life

When talking about the collision industry’s most influential women, Linda Holcomb more than fits the bill. Born in San Jose, California, Holcomb grew up in the post-war age of liberation for young people. In her zeal to start her working life, she liberated herself from college and went to work for Wilson Sales Co., the largest automotive equipment distribution company in Northern California. During the first two years she spent learning marketing and advertising on the job and became known as the first woman to ever enter the automotive equipment distribution industry.

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    In 1970, Linda took a giant step in her career. She accepted a job with a new manufacturing company in Caracas, Venez- uela, where she handled all the marketing and sales for the first “Paint your car in 24 hours” concept model body shop. Being bi-lingual, Linda became the first woman member of their Chamber of Commerce. The prototype operation was a success and several others were cloned in other cities throughout Venezuela.
    Long Beach, California, was the next stop on her journey. In 1973, she started her own wholesale autobody equipment distribution company. Six years later, she branched out into manufacturing paint spray booths. Along with working as a dealer of autobody equipment plus manufacturing automotive and industrial paint booths, Holcomb became an active leader in collision industry politics as president of the Southern California Autobody Association Long Beach chapter, staying on the board of directors for ten years.
    Tragically Holcomb’s husband died suddenly of a heart attack, leaving her responsible for raising their son alone. At this time, Linda sold the spray booth manufacturing company.
    The age of computers was just beginning to enter into the body shop world. Seeing this as a new opportunity, Linda joined up with Akzo Nobel, marketing and selling their computer management systems. Later she moved on to become the CCC sales representative in Orange County.
    Unable to qwell her entrepreneurial spirit, the 1990s saw Holcomb in Palm Springs where she designed and opened the first state-of-the-art collision repair facility in the area with a down draft spray booth. She successfully ran that business with partners, before selling out in 1995 to Caliber Collision Centers
    Over the years, Holcomb has been a successful pioneer in bringing the newest technology into the body shop industry– be it spray booths, frame equipment, measuring systems, or air compressors.
    As a 5-year member of the Harbor Regional Occupational Care Center, San Pedro, Linda supplied the autobody training program with a paint booth at cost and installation of the booth for free.


    For more than a year, she was the distributor for Garmat USA, covering territory from Fresno to San Diego. This exper- ience carried her into the realm of the industry’s newest challenge – equipment and technology for curing waterborne paint products. Linda is currently a sales associate representing Global Finishing Systems spray booths and waterborne systems.

 Holcomb has numerous accomplishments from over 40 years in the automotive industry, including:

    •Collision equipment sales and marketing, pioneering:
        ▪Introduction of Car-O-Liner Swedish Unitized Body Frame Straighteners
        ▪Italian Down-Draft Spray Booths into the USA
        ▪Compressed Air Drying techniques and systems
        ▪Industrial Carbon Filtration systems for cleaner air quality
        ▪State-of-the-art thinner recycling systems
        ▪Computerized management, estimating and tracking software systems

    •Collision Shop Management
        ▪Shop Work Flow Designs
        ▪Streamlined Repair Process Efficiency
        ▪Improved Insurance Marketing Programs

    •Industry Relations for organizations: CAA, CIC, SCAQMD
        ▪Established—“Environmental Committee” for CIC
        ▪Co-created “Best Practice Guidelines” for body shops

    •Pioneered Water Borne equipment and technologies for body shops

Couldn’t stay away!
In 1996, Holcomb briefly left the world of equipment marketing to manage an entire collision repair facility. As part owner of Los Angeles Arena Collision Center, she managed the entire operation and by the time she sold her share of the business to her partner in 1997, she had doubled the monthly revenue flow. She then carried her expertise to Kaiser Brothers Oldsmobile-Honda dealership in downtown Los Angeles, where she completely reorganized the body shop layout and design. She acquired insurance DRP relationships and doubled monthly revenues.
    In 2000, Linda returned fully to her equipment sales and consulting business, J.R. Sandoval Enterprises & Consulting, focusing on the design or re-design of entire auto body facilities, providing equipment, along with marketing and management systems.
    Holcomb currently resides in Monrovia, California. Her son has graduated from USC, with a degree in Marketing and Communications.  These days, Linda pursues her specialty – providing spray booths and all related equipment for the collision repair industry. She has installed more than 1,500 spray booths in the western United States and overseas.
    When it comes to recognizing women who have climbed the ranks in the collision repair industry, Linda Holcomb is a step above.

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