Retro News: January 1997, 2002, 2007, 2012

Retro News: January 1997, 2002, 2007, 2012

CIC ends parts test-fit demonstrations, feds launch new insurance oversight agency

20 years ago in the collision repair industry (January 1997)

Also during the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) in January, Georgia shop owner Gene Hamilton proposed that the paint manufacturers and other companies that host large parties in conjunction with NACE (the International Autobody Congress and Exposition) be asked to redirect some of the money to address fundamental industry problems.

“NACE parties are a lot of good drinking, a lot of good eating, and a few hours later it’s gone, but so are sizable amounts of money,” Hamilton said. “My proposal would be that we find a way to reallocate some of the money spent on us. I’d like to see the industry say, ‘I’m willing to forego a party, I’d rather try to solve a 365-day problem, and I’d like that money to be spent on the industry for training, or for attracting people to this industry.’”

A number of NACE participants, including representatives of some companies that host NACE parties, said the proposal would be something they would strongly consider once some specific ways the money could be spent were developed.

– As reported in The Auto Rebuilder. For a number of years, some companies adopted Hamilton’s suggestion, announcing donations to industry efforts in place of large parties during NACE. In recent years, large vendor-sponsored events have returned both during NACE and during SEMA.

15 years ago in the collision repair industry (January 2002)

After much debate at the Phoenix meeting, Collision Industry Conference (CIC) participants narrowly voted to suspend the vehicle test fits of OEM and non-OEM parts that have been held at most CIC meetings over the past three years.

The test fits, coordinated by CIC’s Parts and Airbag Committee, have allowed CIC participants to rate the fit, finish and overall acceptability of OEM and non-OEM replacement parts – not knowing which were which – that were installed during the meeting on a vehicle.

DiLisio, who led the Parts and Airbags Committee prior to becoming chairman of CIC last year, was among those calling for a halt to the test fits primarily because what he called the “misuse of the information gathered by the parts test fits.” As an example, DiLisio cited a press released issued by the Alliance of American Insurers last fall that stated, “Generic certified parts more often than not have received higher ratings than car company parts in blind parts demonstrations at CIC meetings. The attendees of the meetings are primarily owners of automobile body repair shops.”

“There’s a couple of things in that statement that are obviously disturbing,” DiLisio said. “Number one, we’ve never had scientific tests; therefore data shouldn’t be used as if it were scientific results. Number two, more often than not, the aftermarket parts have not performed better than the OEM. And number three, the attendees at this meeting are not primarily collision repair shop owners.”

Insurers and industry vendors are generally represented in equal or even greater numbers that collision repairers at most CIC meetings, DiLisio pointed out. Even more importantly, only six of the 16 certifiable non-OEM parts used in the CIC’s test fits over the past three years were rated higher than the OEM version (and in one case there was a tie). Over all CIC test fits, DiLisio said. OEM parts had an acceptability rate of 78 percent compared with 55 percent for the non-OEM parts.

“For them to make a statement that more often than not the [non-OEM] parts perform better, I have a problem with that,” DiLisio said. “We started these test for one reason only: To emulate what a collision repairer goes through every day: Calling up on the phone to order certified parts to see what comes. Number two was to put these parts on a vehicle to see whether they fit, what the finish was like, etc. We’ve done that. We’ve given feedback to the distributors, to the OEs, to the Taiwanese. Many changes have been made. There’s no question in my mind that these test fits have proven to be positive. The question I raise: What are we going to gain out of them in the next 12 months?”

Massachusetts shop owner Chuck Sulkala was among those who supported the continuation of test fits.

“We had to be able to show, ‘This is what is wrong with this part,’ and that is what the test fits have done,” Sulkala said. “As a result, we now have CAPA changing the way they are doing thing and are now doing vehicle test fits. We’ve had the Taiwanese come over to see what we’ve done. And we’ve also found that not every OEM part is perfect as I and many other repairers thought they were. As a result, we got the attention of the OEM as well. It’s unfortunate that people decide to take information and twist it and turn it, and they ought to be called on the carpet...but my vote would be that we continue the effort. I’m not sure that our work is completed yet.”

Sulkala, however, was one of only three CIC participants who voiced support for continuing the test fits at nearly every meeting; although two dozen others supported limiting the test fits to two a year, a slightly larger majority voted to suspend the test fits altogether.

– As reported in Autobody News.

10 years ago in the collision repair industry (January 2007)

At the Collision Industry Conference “planning session” held in Phoenix in mid-January, Stacy Bartnik oversaw her first meeting as chair of the conference, leading about 200 attendees through the process of determining which topics CIC committees would tackle in the coming year.
“I would like to see some discussion on the use of photographs to establish judgment times,” suggested Darrell Amberson, president of Lehman’s Garage, a six-shop collision repair business in Bloomington, Minn.

Amberson, who also serves as national director of the Collision Division of the Automotive Service Association (ASA), said such “desk auditing” practices now include using photos to determine, for example, whether a repair time should be two hours rather than three.

“I would question the ability to accurately do that based on a 2-dimensional photograph,” he said.

– As reported in Autobody News. Despite Amberson’s concerns, ”desk audits” of estimates have become increasingly common in the past decade, as have services offering initial estimates based solely on photos. Amberson is now president of operations for LaMettry’s Collision, another Minnesota-based MSO.

5 years ago in the collision repair industry (January 2012)

The new Federal Insurance Office (FIO) has been seeking comments on how insurance should be regulated in the future, and two viewpoints are clearly emerging. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners is among those saying the current state regulatory system is working.

“Property and casualty insurance proved to be among the best regulated financial-services sectors throughout the financial crisis,” Jimi Grande of the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies said.

But the Risk and Insurance Management Society told the FIO that more federal oversight is needed because state regulation allows insurers to stray from or misinterpret national standards. And the Financial Services Roundtable says the majority of its members “believe that the FIO must be a lead voice, not only in vetting options, but ensuring that a new era of insurance regulation does not come with duplicative or layered regulatory requirements.”

In letters to the FIO, both Liberty Mutual and the Property Casualty Insurers Association say federal involvement is needed to combat increasingly tough requirements by European governments for financial firms doing business internationally.

– As reported in CRASH Network (, January 2, 2012. Five years later, within weeks of last November’s election, the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) called on the Trump administration and Republican-controlled Congress to scrap the FIO. “With Congress poised to significantly roll back key provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, we ask that they repeal the FIO,” Jon Gentile, PIA's vice president of government relations, said. “Doing so would reaffirm that regulation of insurance should continue to be the responsibility of the states.”

John Yoswick

John Yoswick is a freelance writer and Autobody News columnist who has been covering the collision industry since 1988, and the editor of the CRASH Network... Read More

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