Collision Repair Industry Thought Leaders Share Innovative Ideas During IDEAS Collide Showcase

Aaron Schulenburg, executive director of SCRS

Thought leaders from across the collision repair industry had the opportunity to share innovative ideas at the IDEAS Collide Showcase held during the 2021 SEMA Show.

The event was first introduced at the 2018 show by the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) as part of its Repairer Driven Education (RDE) series.

This year, eight speakers were given 10 minutes each to talk about creative ways to help the industry evolve.

“The ideas that we’re exploring really traverse a lot of different business models and a lot of different topics,” said Aaron Schulenburg, executive director of SCRS. “Some of them will be about how we approach the industry and some of them will be very specific solutions to specific challenges.”

“We’ve always championed that the topics in this session should rattle the status quo,” added SCRS Chairman Bruce Halcro. “I think the lineup of contributors this year was poised to do just that and I personally find this to be one of the most ambitious sessions that breaks out of what we traditionally expect from industry education.”

Information about the SEMA Garage Detroit was shared by Ben Kaminsky, general manager.

Ben Kaminsky

Kaminsky said the goal of SEMA Garage Detroit is to help SEMA members and partners develop new products, train and understand what they need to succeed in their businesses.

The 45,000-square foot facility offers the capability to conduct emissions and horsepower testing. A large install center is being set up for influencer videos and instruction manuals.

One of the highlights of the multi-million dollar project is the inclusion of an advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) center that encompasses two 40-by-60-foot rooms dedicated to ADAS and calibration.

While setting up the ADAS center, the team reached out to industry experts for their insight on what would be helpful to include. As a result, they purchased a wide variety of tooling for those who use the facility.

Lighting and wall colors were also considered due to the specifications of vehicles with advanced camera and vision technology.

“Floors must also be flat and level to achieve accurate calibration results,” Kaminsky said.

Kaminsky encourages collision repair specialists to think about how they will handle repairing future vehicles in their shops with ADAS features.

“The amount of ADAS-equipped cars on the road in the U.S. is estimated to triple in the next five years,” he said. “If you don’t have a plan, I encourage you to think about it… It’s going to be really important for you going forward and your success in repairing vehicles in the future.”

Todd Korpi, 3M global key accounts director, talked about the importance of always following OEM procedures.

Todd Korpi

“There’s a lot of information and training and it’s up to us to get that information to the technicians on the floor to make sure these vehicles are repaired the right way every time,” said Korpi.

He acknowledged OEM repair procedures are not always easy to find and navigate; however, there are industry resources available, such as OEM1Stop and the I-CAR Repairability Technical Support (RTS) portal, to help provide information.

Over his 25-year career, Korpi has found vehicle technology continues to change, and there’s more coming.

“The documentation helps you get paid and it also ensures the vehicle is going to go back to pre-accident condition,” he said.

When making a material decision or selection, he cautioned auto body shops to be aware of generic claims such as “OEM approved” and “equivalence.”

From his experience at 3M working with auto manufacturers over the years, Korpi said if a certain product is not included in the OEM documentation/repair procedure bulletin, he would question if it’s the right product to be used.

Korpi said the 3M team works for years on test specification development and testing products.

“There’s a lot of work that goes into making sure they meet the OEM repair procedures, guidelines and material specifications,” he explained.

The bottom line, according to Korpi, is OEMs are the authority on repair procedures and recommended products required for a safe and quality repair.

“It’s a high-stakes industry,” he said. “The OEM way is the only way.”

An overview of data security was provided by Brandon Laur, vice president, business development and client experience at CCi Global Technologies.

Brandon Laur

With hacking becoming a huge problem over the last several years, Laur noted collision repairers need to have systems to prevent data breaches.

He encouraged facilities to have customers sign repair authorizations before the car is fixed.

“If everybody is not getting those authorization agreements completed, we’re in trouble,” he said.

He also recommended working with trusted vendors and find out where they are storing data, what it is being moved, how accessible it is and how quickly it can be removed.

“Just because you delete it from your management system or estimating system doesn’t mean that it is deleted from all of the tables there,” he said. “We as an industry need to protect ourselves.”

He shared information about a new solution available, extended detection and response (XDR), which allows businesses to monitor and mitigate cybersecurity threats.

When looking at the business environment, Laur suggested taking a “zero trust” approach.

“This means that nobody within your collision center has access to all of the data,” he explained. “If somebody has access to all of the data, that means they are the vulnerability point where you can be hacked.”

The No. 1 area where people are finding their way into a business’s system is through technicians’ phones, according to Laur. He advised shop owners and managers to check if their phones are encrypted before connecting to WiFi. He also recommended looking into cyber insurance.

If a breach does occur, Laur said a business can survive; however, it must be transparent in what is communicated.

“We need to start to hold this industry accountable to being able to take data security a lot more seriously than what we have,” said Laur. “It’s up to everybody to hold each other accountable and continue to look for ways to move this industry forward.”

Jake Rodenroth, a diagnostic specialist, now working with Lucid Motors as of Dec. 6, discussed what the collision repair industry must do to evolve. He pointed to five business areas to focus on: talent, product knowledge, their business model, OEMs and DRPs, and integrity.

Jake Rodenroth

Rodenroth said new talent working in this field are looking for a career path.

“When you see a young person, take them under your wing, and stop looking for things they do wrong,” he said. “Try to catch them doing something right and praise them.”

Regarding product knowledge, Rodenroth noted customers are becoming even more intelligent about their vehicles than ever before.

“We need to be experts at what we do,” he said. “Our customers expect that out of us and they want a painless process.”

Looking to the future, Rodenroth indicated there will be changes in how vehicles are repaired using new methods, such as 3D printing and augmented reality. He encourages shops employees to be open-minded about these technologies to help repair vehicles, run the facility and provide an unbelievable customer experience.

He also advises owners and managers to be receptive to OEM and DRP partnerships, which are likely to become more common.

“It’s not always easy to do the right thing and get along with everybody but integrity is everything,” said Rodenroth. “My father said to be great at what you do because perfect strangers are counting on you.”

He reminded attendees that continuous education and integrity are the lifeblood of a true professional.

This is Part 1 in a two-part series. The remaining four speakers were highlighted in Part 2 here.

For more information about the SCRS Repairer Driven Education full series digital pass, which includes 20 regular sessions and three OEM Summit sessions, click here.

Stacey Phillips Ronak

Stacey Phillips Ronak is an award-winning writer for the automotive industry and a regular columnist for Autobody News based in Southern California.

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