Jeff Peevy Shares Growth Plans Related to I-CAR Tech Center

I-CAR tech center
The I-CAR Tech Center has extensive video and lighting equipment to produce the various training and information products for the industry.

In 1979, the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR) was established as a result of the introduction of the front-wheel-drive unibody vehicle, according to Jeff Peevy, vice president of technical products, programs and services for I-CAR.

“The industry came to the realization that it didn’t know how to safely repair that type of vehicle,” said Peevy, who has been involved with the organization for the past three decades. “I-CAR came into existence to fulfill that need to teach the industry to help understand the correct way to repair the car.”

From there, I-CAR began offering welding training and certification to meet the needs of the industry. As new automotive features were introduced over the years, such as seatbelts, airbags and anti-lock brakes, Peevy said I-CAR has been a driving force in providing the industry with the knowledge and skills necessary to repair vehicles correctly.

Today is no different. With an increase in the number of electric and high-voltage vehicles on the road as well as the development of ADAS features that need to be calibrated so the car can function as designed, I-CAR has new challenges to take on.

“We need to make sure we are able to support the collision repairers out there with accessible, on-demand and relevant education,” said Peevy. “We have to do this work as early as we possibly can to keep the industry on top of it.”

I had the opportunity to talk to Peevy about his new role at I-CAR and its initiatives related to technical training and the growth of I-CAR’s technical capabilities and capacities.

Can you tell us about your new role?

I’ve been involved with I-CAR as a volunteer or instructor since 1990 and part of its staff for 17 years. I joined the organization as a regional manager in 1998, and have also worked as a national field manager, director and, ultimately, held a senior director position.

I temporarily left I-CAR in 2015 to help the Automotive Management Institute (AMi) rebuild its accreditation program and stayed there for five years.

Throughout my career, I always felt the role of technical training was very important to ensure a complete, safe and quality repair. Frankly, I missed working in this area, and rejoined I-CAR in July 2020.

My current role was developed to help the organization meet its objectives in terms of technical positioning. This includes working on the future development of I-CAR’s curriculum and training to support the industry.

When it comes to technical positioning and training, what is I-CAR’s goal?

By nature, I-CAR is a natural collaborator in the industry. It’s in our DNA. We serve and are represented by all of the inter-industry segments.

Although we’re already in a global leadership position, things are growing and changing so rapidly that we needed to get in another gear to keep up and ensure we are providing the knowledge, skills, testing and information the collision repair industry requires.

Our technical objective is to increase I-CAR’s global leadership position and technical presence by expanding our technical capability, capacity and expertise to meet the growing needs of the collision repair industry.

How will I-CAR meet this objective under your leadership?

We never lose sight of our vision: “That every person in the collision repair industry has the information, knowledge and skills required to perform complete, safe and quality repairs for the ultimate benefit of the consumer.”

As a result, we took a hard look at what we needed to do technically to ensure our vision is fulfilled, as well as expand how the information is delivered. It comes down to our strategic technical planning, expansion and overall execution.

We face the very same things a collision repair shop faces in needing to add tools and equipment, space and expertise to keep up with the increasing momentum of change.

Can you tell us about the I-CAR Tech Center?

The I-CAR Tech Center, in Appleton, WI, houses the equivalent of a body shop with a spray booth, welding stations, lifts and a lot of equipment. Additionally, it has extensive video and lighting equipment to produce the various training and information products and services most of the industry sees.

Since the main role of the center is to support the development of I-CAR’s curriculum and training, there must be a higher level of understanding of technology coming down the road. From this facility, we support OEMs, suppliers and all industry segments in some capacity.

I don’t believe the industry has had a chance to be exposed to I-CAR’s world-class technicians who typically work out of the Tech Center. They are the ones who do the research to understand vehicle and repair technology. Many have been with I-CAR for years.

It’s an amazing group and it’s important to recognize the level of dedication and knowledge they have. They are really serious about their role in understanding the information and developing ways to teach it.

In addition, our talented group of subject matter experts working with our instructional designers, video and graphics teams work year-round at the facility to develop I-CAR’s curriculum, which consists of both online, virtual and hands-on classes.

We’re all working from home right now due to the pandemic, except when in-shop work is needed, but hope to be back in the center when it is safe to do so.

What are some of the expansion plans in the works?

We are currently building a world-class ADAS calibration lab, so we can expand our research and development specific to ADAS-related activities, and do so in an effective and efficient way. This also allows us to expand our support of the car manufacturers.

One of our next projects includes building a dedicated electric vehicle lab so we continue our leadership position in understanding the repairs of these vehicles and further support the OEMs. By keeping up with the latest repair procedures and collision repair information, it allows us to be the link between collision repairers and car manufacturers.

What can we expect to see from I-CAR in the future?

Not only will the quality of our courses continue to grow, but the industry is also going to see an increased level of accessibility through online and hands-on learning.

We have plans to do some very innovative things to help learners be more engaged and learn more efficiently. We’re blessed to have a lot of instructors who currently teach both virtual and in-person, and we want to make sure to support them.

I also think it is important I-CAR continues to increase our technical leadership in light of the changes taking place. Just as our industry is growing and our shops are taking more training to keep up with changes in technology, our organization’s technical department has to do the same.

We recently brought Dirk Fuchs onboard as I-CAR’s director of technical programs and services.

He oversees the repair technical support (RTS) and has a strong global understanding of electric vehicles, as well as ADAS calibration. We already have subject matter experts around those disciplines; however, coming from Germany, he brings deeper knowledge from other parts of the world.

The changing technology in these cars requires a close relationship with car manufacturers. As a result, I see us continuing to grow deeper relationships with OEMs and increasing our ability to support them, which will enable us to better support collision repairers.

You will see us get very specific on what we share with the industry. We’re currently working on a social media strategy to share information about our great technical team and all of the work they do behind the scenes.

We’d really love the industry to have access to the inner-workings and get to know the personalities and the impressive level of expertise available. I think it will be very interesting to our industry.

As we move forward with our initiatives, we will continue to collaborate with the industry and welcome feedback. We really want all stakeholders to understand what we are doing and get involved.

It’s all about supporting the industry and those who are repairing vehicles, which ultimately benefits the consumer with a complete, safe and quality repair.

Stacey Phillips Ronak

Columnist
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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