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10 Bad Business Ideas Âť Precision Masking Tips Âť Auto Foam

March 2014//Vol. 33 No.3

More and more shops are finding value in being environmentally friendly.

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March March 2014

Vol. 33 No. 3


ON THE COVER Going Green More and more shops are finding there is value to going green, not just to be environmentally friendly but to save money.


28 10 Bad Ideas for Small Business Owners BUSINESS

Here’s a reality check for business owners who think they’re doing the right things when, in fact, they’re not.

44 The Lost Art of Masking PROFIT IN THE PAINT SHOP

Precision masking is a skill you must develop to maintain the “invisible repair” concept.

54 Auto Foam: Overlooked and Misunderstood TECHNICAL

Although technicians tend to regard auto foam in repairs as a nuisance, their proper placement is essential to vehicle operation.

66 Power to the People SHOP PROFILE

By educating and empowering customers, American Autobody has carved out a niche as a shop to trust.

SHOP TALK Editor’s Notes

8 10 Detours 14 Clark’s Corner 20 Web Presence Management I deserve to be acknowledged!

A mile high with “The Doctor.”

The future of paint looks bright. Is free or cheap good enough?

BODYSHOP BUSINESS (ISSN 0730-7241) (March 2014, Volume 33, Number 3): Published monthly by Babcox Media, Inc., 3550 Embassy Parkway, Akron, OH 44333 U.S.A. Phone (330) 670-1234, FAX (330) 670-0874. Copyright 2014 Babcox Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Periodical postage paid at Akron, OH 44333 and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to BODYSHOP BUSINESS, P.O. Box 13260, Akron, OH 44334-3912. Member, BPA Worldwide

DEPARTMENTS Guess the Car ....................................................................................4 e-Buzz ..............................................................................................6 Industry Update ..............................................................................12 Tech Tips ........................................................................................24 Product Showcase............................................................................88 By the Numbers ..............................................................................92

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the Car


Reader Contest! Win $50! #131

What vehicle MODEL does this picture represent? Fax your guess to (330) 670-0874. Include name, title, shop name, city, state and phone number. Or submit your guess with our online contest form by visiting The winner will be randomly selected from correct entries and awarded $50. Entries must be received by March 31.

See the April issue for winner of Guess the Car #131.

Flying spur = (Bentley) Flying Spur



*Only one winner will be selected. Chances of winning are dependent upon the number of correct entries received. Employees of Babcox, industry manufacturers and BSB advertisers are not eligible to enter.




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Chris Carpenter, collision repair instructor, Western Technology Center, Burns Flat, Okla.

Cap-rice = (Chevrolet) Caprice

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They Said It On


The latest online content from BodyShop Business

Louisiana Body Shop Owner Using Social Media to Win Battles with Insurers

February 18 — Check out the latest blog post from GFS—Global Finishing Solutions on aluminum repair.

Comment by Basil Fernimos: Bravo! I sold my shop before I could have utilized this amazing tool! We are all proud of such an innovative idea. This is going to sweep the industry! The power of social media is far greater than the power of ‘Big Brother.’ You get the ‘smartest guy on the block’ award! PDR Nation Puts Spotlight on Qualified Paintless Dent Repair Technicians

Like • Comment • Share

: BodyShop Business Readers Group

@BSBMagazine: Wow, the U.S. #auto industry has reached a milestone… and not a good one!

Comment by 27yearHailguy: I am new to PDR Nation. Although I was skeptical at first, I find they are a great group to associate my company with. I’m still a bit skeptical about everything, but very happy with my $300 investment. Industry Provides Record $9.4 Million Support for Collision Repair Education Foundation

Another Post-Repair Inspection Case Study This new in-depth video from K & M Collision shows the unsafe repairs they found on a Land Rover LR3. Do you perform post-repair inspections? Do Mark Schaech you ever document your findings?

Read on to discover

Comment by Tommy: Why don’t we spend $9.4 million to educate the government on how insurance companies illegally underpay claims? When good techs are well paid, we will not have a shortage of quality techs.

what it is: NHTSA Takes First Steps Toward Vehicle-to-Vehicle Technology

Scan this code to watch the video

Find 1,000’s of BodyShop Business articles online at 6

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Comment by Joe: Just thinking, does no vehicle crashes mean we won’t have to buy insurance? Will the price of insurance go down? Hey wait, I know! We can give them a bailout, then the Federal Government can take it over next.

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S. Scott Shriber, ext. 229 Editor

Hey, Don’t Ignore Me!


hate being ignored. Yet it happens a lot at businesses I patronize. It goes like this. I walk in, and generally I’m left to look around when no one acknowledges or makes eye contact with me. It leaves me feeling unimportant, undervalued and, most importantly, unaware of my status: will I be attended to soon? How long will the wait be? What can I do in the meantime? Here’s an example. I recently went to a restaurant, and when I walked in, a large party was standing in front of the hostess desk. I assumed they were going to be seated shortly, but the more I waited and the more I was ignored, the more I thought that maybe they were waiting for additional members of their party to arrive. Which begged the question, why couldn’t little ol’ me, party of two (I was expecting another person), have been acknowledged with at least a, “We’ll be right with you, sir.” That’s all I needed. But instead, I ended up standing around, twiddling my thumbs, frustrated

that this massive party was milling around the waiting area and all I wanted was to sit down. I tried to make a plea via eye contact, but the hostesses acted as if I wasn’t there. And I made sure to stand away from the large party so it didn’t look like I was with them. Unfortunately, this sad scene plays out in a lot of businesses I visit. I was taught at a restaurant chain I used to work at to acknowledge the customer within 45 seconds of their arrival. Even if the customer didn’t sit in your station, if you noticed they didn’t have a napkin in front of them yet, you were instructed to greet them and tell them their server would be with them shortly. When a customer enters your facility, are they greeted right away? Or are they left to wander around and eyeball your awards mounted on the wall because they have nothing better to do? There’s another restaurant chain that never fails to impress me in that they open the door for you every time you arrive and say, “Welcome to ABC Grille!” Wouldn’t that be something if you did that?

Jason Stahl, Editor Email comments to

Jason Stahl, ext. 226 Managing Editor

Gina Kuzmick, ext. 244 Contributing Editors

Mitch Becker, Mark Clark, Mark Claypool, Erica Eversman, Tom Ferry, Curt Harler, John D. Lyman Sr., Hank Nunn, Carl Wilson Graphic Designer

Lisa DiPaolo, ext. 281 Advertising Services

Kelly McAleese, ext. 284 Director of Circulation

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Ellen Mays, ext. 275 Tel: (330) 670-1234 Fax: (330) 670-0874 Website: Corporate

Bill Babcox, President Gregory Cira, Vice President, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Stankard, Vice President Beth Scheetz, Controller A limited number of complimentary subscriptions are available to those who qualify. Call (330) 670-1234, ext. 288, or fax us at (330) 6705335. Paid subscriptions are available for nonqualified subscribers at: U.S.: $69 for one year. Canada/Mexico: $89 for one year. Canadian rates include GST. Ohio residents add current county sales tax. Other foreign rates/via air mail: $129 for one year. Payable in advance in U.S. funds. Mail payment to BodyShop Business, P.O. Box 75692, Cleveland, OH 44101-4755. VISA, MasterCard or American Express accepted.

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By S. Scott Shriber, Publisher

A Mile High

With “The Doctor” ere I am in the Mile High city. Denver is such a cool spot with all the geographic splendor and culture one could hope for. It also for some reason seems to be the auto body consolidation mecca of the world. As I traveled around the city, I saw every one of the major consolidators on practically every other corner. I was almost tempted to write an industry consolidation article, but I persevered and stayed the course to bring you my usual snapshot of an interesting shop. Luckily, I was tipped off by a Porsche enthusiast that there was a unique shop in Englewood. I jumped on the phone and ended up talking with Valerie, who said she could get me an appointment with “the surgeon.” Surgeon? Yes, his name is Jon Bingham and he runs the business called the Metal Surgeon with his wife, Valerie. So off I went. The doctor was in. I was greeted at the door by the creative sign you see above left. I knew right away I was in a creative laboratory. Anyone who could dream up that marketing idea had to be a creative genius. I found out Jon’s creativity is way beyond marketing. He’s what we call in the trades an artist. His craft is so precise that it’s in a league all by itself. Jon got his training in England with a four-year degree in fabrication. That landed him apprenticeships at such renowned nameplates as Jaguar, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Land Rover and Volkswagen. Then, it was off to America to work for Metal



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Crafters in California. During that time, he started the business. He and Valerie moved it to Denver and the rest is history. Wandering through the shop was like a trip to an automotive museum of the strange and different. It had everything from a beautiful 356 Porsche Cabriolet to an ultra-rare Jeep panel delivery truck. Of course, there were all the usual big fendered ’20s and ’30s cars too, but all of them shared one thing in common: they were all in bare metal form. You see, there is no paint in this shop. The surgeon does not do coatings, just pure perfect metal fabrication and preparation. Jon and his three technicians have a pretty good backlog of work, with many customers waiting. There just are not that many guys out there who can fabricate a right fender for a 300 Gullwing using the left one as a pattern. I was absolutely awestruck by his ability to recreate a metal part out of a pattern or a rusted out remnant of a part. Jon charges an hourly rate of $67 and works on a time and materials basis. Customers are invoiced weekly, and a very accurate estimate is given prior to beginning any project – which helps prevent any surprises that can come along with this type of work. The beauty of this kind of shop is that it shows that there are so many avenues for our business to be channeled in. If you like production collision work, there’s plenty of it out there. If you like the more specialty type of work, there’s a spot for that, too. That’s what is so great about the automotive aftermarket. It’s a $290 billion business, and there is a spot for all of us. Drop me a line if you know of a shop I should visit and I’ll put it on the list. Thanks again to Jon and Valerie! Check them out at BSB

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Update Florida Body Shops Follow Mississippi’s Lead and File Suit Against Insurers wenty-one Florida body shops filed a lawsuit against a long list of insurance companies on Feb. 21, essentially replicating the suit filed by shops in Mississippi on Jan. 7 but tailoring it to the state of Florida and including more insurers who the shops deemed to be the worst offenders in that state. The suit was filed by


Brent Geohagan, the attorney for Ray Gunder of Gunder’s Auto Center in Lakeland, Fla., who has a long history of litigating against insurers for short pays, tortious interference and other alleged offenses. “Florida has made so many crucial decisions in our nation’s history, and I think it’s a symbolic victory that Ray Gunder and Brent Geohagan and their

team have now filed this action,” said John Eaves Jr., the lead attorney in the PartsTrader injunction and Mississippi filing. “I think they have been fighting the fight for a long time, and I think it’s only appropriate that they are one of the first states to file. “I found a sign in a shop in Italy that I bought and gave to Ray that says,

Louisiana Body Shop Owner Using Social Media to Win Battles with Insurers Louisiana body shop owner is finding a recent investment in a “smart TV” for his shop is really paying off – especially when it comes to addressing the “we don’t pay for that” line from insurers. Abel Cantrelle, owner of Advantage Collision Center in Houma, La., recently picked up the 40-inch Samsung at Best Buy and installed it in his front office where customers and insurers alike can see it. It provides a constant feed of his Twitter account, and when insurers come in now and say, “We don’t pay for that,” he poses a question to his fellow shop owners on Twitter. “I’ll ask, ‘Does anybody get paid for masking jambs?’ and a guy from Mississippi will say, ‘Yep, we do,’” says Cantrelle. “And then the insurer will say, ‘There’s no such thing,’ and then I



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say, ‘Well let’s ask Mitchell then.’ And then they freak out.” Cantrelle says he has already had a few collision repairers from Baton Rouge to Lafayette who saw his TV and are now connected with him. He recently joined the newly formed Lousiana Collision Repair Association after becoming fed up with State Farm and other insurers’ tactics. “Six to eight months ago, I had the final straw and told [State Farm] to leave,” he says. “Now when they walk in the door, they’re walking on glass floors, and I tell them don’t break the glass or your ass could be grass and I will put you outside the door in a heartbeat. State Farm wanted this, and now they’re going to have it. “Last week, they did a car for me and Continued on pg. 76

‘Accidere ex una scintilla incendia passium,’ which is Latin for, ‘From a small spark grows many great flames.’ I give that credit to Ray because he incited a spark and inspired the Mississippi shops to take action, and now others will across the United States.” The suit accuses the insurers of “engaging in an ongoing, concerted and intentional course of action and conduct with State Farm acting as the spearhead to improperly and illegally control and depress automobile damage repair costs.” As it pertains to DRP shops, the suit also accuses the insurers of “engaing in an ongoing pattern and practice of coercion and implied threats to the pecuniary health of the individual plaintiff businesses in order to force compliance with unreasonable and onerous concessions.” “There will be more states filing very soon. John Eaves is following a very organized and strategic plan to maximize the effect of the lawsuit for our industry,” said John Mosley of Clinton Body Shop, one of the shops named as a plaintiff in the Mississippi filContinued on pg. 76

»| Industry Update |«

NHTSA Takes First Steps Toward Vehicle-to-Vehicle Technology nthony Foxx, U.S. Department of Transportation secretary, announced that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will begin taking steps toward a proposed mandate requiring new vehicles to contain vehicle-to-vehicle technology (V2V). NHTSA notes that this technology will “improve safety by allowing vehicles to ‘talk’ to each other and ultimately avoid many crashes altogether by exchanging basic safety data, such as speed and position, 10 times per second.” “Vehicle-to-vehicle technology represents the next generation of auto safety improvements, building on the life-saving achievements we’ve already seen with safety belts and airbags,” said Foxx. “By helping drivers avoid crashes, this technology will play a key role in improving the way people get where they need to go while ensuring that the U.S. remains the leader in the global automotive industry.” NHTSA will release a study from a year-long pilot program on V2V in the coming weeks. The study was launched in August 2012 in Ann Arbor, Mich., with 3,000 vehicles in the “largest-ever road test of V2V technology.” This will be the first


step toward developing a federal regulation on V2V policy. “V2V crash avoidance technology has gamechanging potential to significantly reduce the number of crashes, injuries and deaths on our nation’s roads,” said David Friedman, NHTSA acting administrator. “Decades from now, it’s likely we’ll look back at this time period as one in which the historical arc of transportation safety considerably changed for the better, similar to the in-

troduction of standards for seat belts, airbags and electronic stability control technology.” NHTSA highlights that V2V communications can provide the vehicle and driver with “360-degree situational awareness to address additional crash situations – including those, for example, in which a driver needs to decide if it is safe to pass on a two-lane road (potential head-on collision), make a left turn across the path of oncoming traffic, or in which a vehi-

cle approaching at an intersection appears to be on a collision course. In those situations, V2V communications can detect threats hundreds of yards from other vehicles that cannot be seen, often in situations in which onboard sensors alone cannot detect the threat.” Once the NHTSA report is made available on V2V communications, the Automotive Service Association (ASA) will post the information on its legislative website,

WMABA Alerts Members to Misinformation on Parts Bill he Washington Metropolitan Auto Body Association (WMABA) has put out an alert to its members that it has come to their attention that insurance companies are asking repairers to testify against the group’s pro-consumer parts legislation in Maryland. WMABA claims that the insurers are telling repairers and legislators that this bill will total loss more vehicles, which the association says “is nothing more than unsubstantiated fear mongering.” In its email alert, WMABA spelled out what it feels is the truth about the legislation and why repairers should support it: The 2014 Senate Bill 487 (House Bill 574) prohibits the use of aftermarket parts for the first three years of the vehicle (not longer), a time in which it is under warranty and possibly a lease agreement that conflicts with the insurer


specification of those parts. If the consumer then needs to have the genuine parts to stay in compliance, they would be out-of-pocket the difference. Insurers are aware of the specifications of warranties and lease agreements that come with new vehicles, and are acting in direct conflict with them simply to reduce claims payments. This is entirely at the expense of the consumer, who is left with loss of vehicle value or additional outof-pocket. Our customers pay premium dollars, and are getting less than they deserve and expect by the insurers’ cost-containment tactics. The bill also prohibits insurer mandate of a particular process or vendor for the procurement of parts or materials in the repair of the vehicle. This gives the repairer and the consumer the benefit of removing parts choice limitations set by insurers that are there for the benefit of the insurers’ pockets only. 13



By Mark Clark

The Future of Paint

Looks Bright etelling all these moldy tales of body shop yesteryear each month is a firm reminder that I’ve been around for a long, long time. But I try hard to remember that I’m still around because our business continues to change in interesting and challenging ways every year. Color effects are a key component of new car sales, and each dazzling new showroom finish must be refinished invisibly in our shops.


Adding Some Sparkle » From the first flakes added to auto paint in the 1930s (which were remnants from aluminum roof coatings) to the latest aluminum-coated micas, sparkle sells cars. Automotive color stylists spend all their time trying to create color effects that cause consumers to say, “I gotta have that.” The first aluminum flakes were irregularly shaped chunks; the next evolution was to cut the aluminum into precise and uniform sizes. The next jump was to use something that both reflected and transmitted light. Mica is a silicate that appears in a layered texture, meaning it reflects and passes some light. The next generation of sparkle was coated micas, which duplicate the multi-color optical effect of pearls and the inside of seashells. The type of powder coatings and the number of coats around the mica chip determine the exact color change and effect. Xyrillic flakes attach a 14

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metal layer to the mica chips and provide even more reflection and more dramatic color change when coated with layers of titanium dioxide (TiO2). After many years of talking about it, the car manufacturers are soon introducing the next evolution in sparkle: glass spheres. Look for them in the finishes on 2016 and 2017 models. While they occupy the same color space as current reflectants, glass reflects and refracts light like a prism; by breaking the light into individual colored bands, they offer striking color effects. Certain colors reflect better than others, and bigger balls of glass will reflect more light of any hue. Plating the glass spheres with metal and adding powdered coatings will no doubt follow shortly and be even more unique.

Candies and Pearls » Originally the province of custom painters, three-stage finishes made their way into new car showrooms in yet another effort to find the “I gotta have that” difference. Using a ground coat and a translucent mid-coat followed by a topcoat clear allowed the base to show through the tinted coats and give the finish the same depth and interest as a carnival candy apple. Including coated mica chips in the mid-coats imitated the seashell look. Ford’s Ruby Red is a candy color that looks great on the showroom floor and

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»| Clark’s Corner |« often gives the paint shop fits. Heads up, folks, as word has it Ford is working on a similar blue candy and Nissan is on the trail of green and purple OE threestage candy finishes. I predict it won’t be long before we see the combination of coated glass flakes inside a tinted mid-coat for

a color changing, sparkly, jewellike finish. As always, refinishing a vehicle with a translucent mid-coat of any kind will require the painter to make a let-down panel with one, two or three or more coats of the mid-coat over one, two or three coats of base to find the exact

match. For sure, the OE put one or two passes of the mid-coat on the vehicle during production. Matching your shop’s unique paint guns and your particular painter’s techniques to the factory’s robotic application is the trick.

Seeing Clearly » The original equipment millage (thickness) of the various ground coats and midcoats is as thin as possible to preserve flexibility, and the finish’s depth comes from the clearcoats. When a reflecting flake is involved, the clear has to be applied densely enough to cover up the tallest flake. Automotive sparkle comes in sizes from about 10 microns to 80 microns; anything over 60 microns is tough to cover up. One pipe dream that continues to hover around our industry is the one-coat refinish clear. While it’s chemically possible to pack enough solids into a clear resin to do it, the application has to be perfect. Few painters or paint booths are perfect (you and yours being the exception, of course). A second coat of clear makes it easier for regular painters to flow out and smooth the finish. And if your shop cuts and buffs everything, make sure to apply another coat to be fed to the polisher. Low film build is the No. 1 cause of clear failure. Matte clears are currently a hot item. Originally on high-dollar cars like Lamborghini, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, they’re now appearing on something as common as a Hyundai Veloster. There are several gloss levels in production, and the paint shop will have to know which one was OE on the vehicle. Plus, those pesky OE color stylists want all kinds of trick stuff in their lowgloss clears. The clear’s gloss is reduced by the addition of silica flattening agents, which can give the clear a chalky sidetone. They don’t want any milkiness on the side tone (flop), and they want to see the basecoat’s sparkle through the matte

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»| Clark’s Corner |« clear. More clever chemistry from the paint manufacturers will soon provide matte clears offering both gloss levels and clarities. How about one that has no gloss but is perfectly transparent? Coming soon.

It’s a Wrap » Will our refinish business disappear if vehicle wraps

get better and better? I don’t think so, but wraps are certainly improving. Vinyl films that will stretch to all the convex and concave contours on a swoopy car body without pulling the printed designs out of shape are right on the horizon. Currently, the applicator makes the film fit by heating,

pulling and stretching it to contour, often distorting the design. Also coming are thinner and thinner films with clever technology that allow air bubbles to pass up through the film rather than having to be squeegeed to the nearest edge. All these will make wrap applications much easier. Using a dual roller system, the wrap-making printer can bond a layer of clear over the design for a gloss similar to a paint finish. While our refinish industry focuses on new paint color effects, the vinyl, plastic, nano technology folks are making films that will wrap onto anything smoothly without distortion and will also offer some cool visual effects. And if the showroom consumer says “gotta have that,” future collision repair may well include repairing a wrapped auto.

Change Is Certain » Unique sparkles, color changing pigments, mile-deep clears and no-gloss clears promise to make the next decade in auto body even more challenging than the last. After 44 years in our business, I predict we’ll take it all in stride. Paint companies will produce the very thing to repair the OEM finishes, PBE jobbers will explain the equipment and techniques necessary to apply them and, as always, the line painters will figure out how to make it work perfectly. The only thing certain is change, and I can hardly wait to see the latest, coolest paint job yet. BSB Mark R. Clark is the owner of Professional PBE Systems in Waterloo, Iowa; he is a wellknown industry speaker and consultant. He is celebrating his 26th year as a contributing editor to BodyShop Business. Circle 18 for Reader Service


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Web Presence


By Mark Claypool

Is Free or Cheap

Good Enough? P ick your cliché. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. You get what you pay for. There are lots of advertising and marketing efforts out there that are pushing free services, or services that are so inexpensive that they aren’t representative of the true marketplace. These are often efforts to lure you into other services that cost much more, or monthly fees that add up over time. Or things that will take so much of your time you’ll wish you had just paid someone to help do it for you. Think about it. What can you really get for $100? Or $500? Honestly, can you build an effective website for free on your own? Those who can are true professionals. Those who can’t either hire these professionals or, unfortunately for them, use free or ultra-cheap services. And that’s going to be a problem. Here’s why.

and where you do it. This, as I’ll explain in more detail in a bit, is a science that takes hundreds of hours of study to understand and a commitment to keep up with the hundreds of changes search engines make to their algorithms each year. A truly optimized site will show up on searches the public uses to find the services you provide – not for you by name, but by the actual services you provide. A well-designed website must be professional looking and make a great first impression. Colors must match, and there must be effective “calls to action” that direct a visitor to do something you want them to do. You want them to pick up the phone, call you, get directions and request an appointment or estimate. These are the things that must be easy to find, right on the top of the homepage, and be eye catching enough to get the visitor’s attention.

Purpose » Free or ultra-cheap sites will

What You Don’t Know » I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: This is not like the movie “Field of Dreams.” Just because you build a website doesn’t mean people will come to it. It’s much more complicated than that. Free or cheap will likely set up your new site for failure. Do you know anything about search engine optimization? Do you know what title tags are and how many characters should be in an effective one? Do you know what a meta description is, how many characters are recommended by Google and how these can improve your click-through rates? Can you build a site

almost certainly not perform the way shop owners will want. Let’s revisit the purpose of a website. It should have only one main purpose: driving traffic to your door and getting you cars to fix. Isn’t that what you want from it? Some of the other things might be nice, but they should be icing on a well-developed website cake. Here’s what it takes to bring you cars to fix: A site that’s optimized for search engine indexing. This means that a search engine should be able to land on your site and easily tell exactly who you are, what you do 20

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»| Web Presence |« map? Do you know how to verify your site in Google’s Webmaster Tools? How about your h1 header? Is it written correctly so that it fulfills its all-important SEO role? How about keyword usage? What are the most used terms the public uses to search for the services your shop offers? (You know

about keywords if you read my columns!) Do you know how to build backlinks and what anchor text you should have in them? Do you even know what all these terms mean? This is SEO 101, and if you don’t know them and build your own site for free or cheap, you’ve missed the boat.

Penny Wise… » Do you get my point? You can spend little or no money and end up with something that doesn’t bring you business. A truly well-designed and optimized site will cost you more, but not all that much when you consider that it will bring you cars to fix. Get two or three cars to repair from your website and the rest is gravy, while a poorly optimized site will sit there visible primarily only to those who know you by name. When building a new website, you should hire a professional who really understands SEO (and few do).

The Weakest Link » So let me cut to the chase. Your website is only as strong as its weakest link. If your site isn’t optimized, be it a new or old site, it likely isn’t ranking well and is costing you opportunities every week. But even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while. In this dog eat dog world, that means your competitors are potentially eating your lunch. Enough clichés for you? If the job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. BSB BSB Contributing Editor Mark Claypool has more than 30 years of experience in the fields of workforce development, business/education partnerships, apprenticeships and Web presence management. He is the CEO of Optima Automotive (, which provides website design, development, SEO services and social media management services. Claypool’s work history includes stints at Metro Paint Supplies, VeriFacts Automotive, the National Auto Body Council (NABC), the I-CAR Education Foundation and SkillsUSA. He is the founder of Mentors At Work and co-founder of the Collision Industry Foundation. He served, on a volunteer basis, as the SkillsUSA World Team Leader for the WorldSkills Championships from 2003 to 2011. Circle 22 for Reader Service


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By Karl Kirschenman

Remember Those Beasts of Steel? o me, a car has always been a thing of beauty – the bodylines, the sparkle of fresh paint, the sound of a finely tuned power plant, a glowing instrument panel, chrome shining in the sun and the feel of leather as you strap yourself into the driver’s seat. All of this conjures up images from years ago behind the wheel of many muscle cars. The first time I hit the gas in a four-cylinder frontwheel drive tin can, I was more than disappointed. Give me a big ol’ V8 and let me loose! Fast-forward to 2014. While the 2015 Corvette Z06 will put out a whopping 620 horses, there is generally more concern today for miles per gallon than horsepower. Punch is most likely provided by turbo chargers sitting on four-bangers. Engines and other vehicle technologies are a space age away from the vintage GTO, Barracuda, Daytona, Cobra or anything ending in SS.


Decline of Steel » Besides power plant technology, a fundamental change is happening in what our cars are made of and how they’re made. I’m talking about an acceleration (pun intended) in the decline of steel body panels. Ford recently shook things up when it announced its new lineup of all-aluminum F-series pickup 24

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trucks. Plus, the 2015 Mustang will sport aluminum fenders and an aluminum hood. The new F-150s, with aluminum bodies on steel frames, will weigh in about 700 pounds lighter than current models. Of course, aluminum is not entirely new to the collision industry. The 2014 Corvette has an aluminum frame, and high-end vehicles such as Audi and Jaguar currently feature extensive aluminum components. I’ve spoken to many shop owners who are reluctant to invest in aluminum tools and equipment, saying, “We don’t work on ‘those’ types of cars.” They’re referring to the high-end luxury vehicles, but even mainstream cars like the Prius integrate aluminum panels into some models, so you know it’s only the beginning.

2013 Cadillac ATS RWD » Here’s part of a procedure from GM for replacing the aluminum front wheelhouse on a 2013 Cadillac ATS. This is not the entire article, which includes both full and partial replacement. For the purposes of this article, only the portion of the procedure dealing with partial replacement is included. NOTE: The front wheelhouse panel is cast aluminum and rivet bonded to the front lower frame rail (ultra high strength steel) and hinge pillar upper extensions (dual phase steel). The front wheelhouse is serviced as a complete assembly that includes

the hinge pillar upper extension, which is rivet bonded to the front wheelhouse panel. NOTE: Partial replacement of the front wheelhouse assembly can be done by replacing only the front wheelhouse panel (cast aluminum). The front wheelhouse panel will need to be separated from the complete wheelhouse service assembly and replaced using adhesive and rivets. NOTE: Proper alignment of the wheelhouse assembly is important. The use of three-dimensional measuring equipment is recommended when installing the part. 1. Disable the SIR system and then disconnect the negative battery cable. 2. Prior to applying adhesive or welding, fit the wheelhouse assembly to the structure and check for proper alignment. 3. With the part properly located and aligned, mark the locations for the rivets and welds recorded from the original part and drill the holes for the rivets. 4. Remove the part from the vehicle to clean and prepare the surfaces for bonding and welding. NOTE: Leave the Elpo-coating on the adhesive bonding surfaces of the service part to allow additional protection of the aluminum from galvanic corrosion. 5. Scuff sand the bonding surfaces on the service part to remove the gloss of the Elpo-coating. 6. Using a grinding disk or equivalent, prepare a bare steel surface

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»| Tech Tips |« on the bonding areas of the vehicle structure. 7. Clean and prepare all welding surfaces. NOTE: Refer to the adhesive manufacturer’s recommendation for specific application and curing recommendations. 8. Apply a bead of adhesive to all bonding surfaces on the vehicle structure and service part, per the adhesive manufacturer ’s recommendations. NOTE: Completely cover all bare surfaces with the adhesive. 9. Using a small brush, spread a coat of the adhesive to cover the entire adhesive bonding surface to ensure proper corrosion protection. NOTE: Do not allow the adhesive to cure off the vehicle, prior to installing and aligning the part. Refer to the adhesive manufacturer’s recommendations for specific cure times. 10. Apply a bead of adhesive to the mating surface of the service part, per the adhesive manufacturer’s recommendations. NOTE: Do not pull the panels apart after they’re joined together. Slide the panels against each other to realign the panels, or proper joint strength may be affected. NOTE: Proper alignment of the wheelhouse assembly is important. The use of three-dimensional measuring equipment is recommended when installing the part. 11. Install the service part to the vehicle structure and check for proper alignment. 12. Install the rivets along the bonding joint at the original locations. Refer to the electronic parts catalog for the recommended rivets. 13. Weld the service part at the original weld locations, as necessary. 14. Install the front tie bar attachment bracket, front outer upper rail and upper outer rail reinforcement bracket. 15. Clean all welded surfaces. 16. Apply the sealers and antiCircle 26 for Reader Service


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corrosion materials to the repair area, as necessary. 17. Paint the repaired area. 18. Install all related panels and components. 19. Enable the SIR system and then connect the negative battery cable.

Information Rules » Technology is moving faster than a ’70 Plymouth Hemi ’Cuda over a quarter mile. The point is, of course, that you need solid OEM information to estimate jobs and safely repair collision damage these days. So, when you’re pining for a hot Chevelle SS, Charger or Boss 302, just remember that the technically advanced (and much safer) cars of today will be symbols of the good ol’ days for a new generation. And as far as future vehicles go, who knows what they’ll be made of. Not me! NOTE: This repair/service information is excerpted from information published by the vehicle manufacturer, and is intended for the purpose of promoting OE collision repair information to trained, professional technicians with the knowledge, tools and equipment to do the job properly and safely. Before attempting any repairs described, refer to the complete article in ALLDATA Collision S3500. It’s recommended that these procedures not be performed by “do-it-yourselfers.” BSB Karl Kirschenman, ALLDATA collision product manager, holds a bachelor of science degree in communication. He has more than 10 years of experience in the collision industry. © 2014 ALLDATA LLC. All rights reserved. All technical information, images and specifications are from ALLDATA Collision S3500. ALLDATA and ALLDATA Collision are registered trademarks of ALLDATA LLC. All other marks are the property of their respective holders.

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Bad Ideas for Small Business Owners By Dale Delmege


“People issues are the job of Human Resources.”

Having the right people and taking care of them is not the job of HR. As an owner, general manager or president, it’s the absolute core responsibility of your job.


“We have no job openings right now.”

Nonsense. There are job openings in your company now currently occupied by people your good employees know don’t belong there. The company is not a social agency. You owe your good employees other good employees to work with.

“What’s the point of training? We train them, and they leave.”


OK, have it your way: don’t train them, and they stay.

“I simply suggest ways of doing things, and weed out the people who don’t do it my way.”


You’ll never be free until you stop assigning tasks and start setting goals and results.

“We reward loyalty and longevity with annual pay increases.”


“When an employee knowingly breaks a rule, I talk it through and find the problem.”


Unless you’re the company psychologist, you’re just asking for excuses and an argument. People are paid for their behavior, not their intentions. A verbal warning or disciplinary action is not a conversation, and it shouldn’t take more than 60 seconds. Calmly tell him what he did wrong, what the consequences will be if he does it again and end the meeting. An hour later, engage him in friendly small talk so he knows he has been given a real second chance.

The mathematically certain eventual


“We hire for experience and result is overpaid average people education.” supervising underpaid better people.

Expect disappointment. Hire instead for attitude, energy, desire and curiosity. Education and experience are overrated, and often drawbacks. Most terminations are set in motion back at the moment of hasty hiring. Hire slow. Terminate without delay.


“We need a COO!”

I doubt it. When I read the job description, it usually consists of all the stuff you hate to do, while you still make all the decisions. One way or another, he’ll be gone in a year or two, but you’ll probably be cleaning up the mess you made long afterward. 28

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The mere passage of time has no value. There should only be two reasons for a salary increase: more job responsibility (e.g. a promotion), or increased living cost (inflation).

“When something goes wrong, I demand to know why.”


Stop wasting your time. It’s not your job to know why it happened. It’s your job to know that it won’t happen again. Instead of asking why something bad happened, ask the accountable employee how he has decided to prevent its recurrence, stop talking and wait for an answer.

“I built this business out of nothing. Therefore, I can make a manager out of anybody.”


No, you can’t. You can discover management talent, but you can’t make it from scratch. No one, not even you, can insert a managerial temperament into a personality where none existed before. It’s either already there or it’s never going to be. BSB Dale Delmege is a member of the Collision Industry Hall of Eagles, a Lifetime Member of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists, and a past chairman of the Collision Industry Conference.

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COVER STORY More and more shops are finding there is value to going green, not just because they want to be good stewards of the environment but because there’s actually money in it. By Kristen Hampshire efore Nick Orso’s Body Shop, no one in town was even close to going “off the grid.” The 28,000-square-foot Syracuse, N.Y., shop has 280 solar panels on its rooftop that collect enough energy to supply about 90 percent of the energy for his operation. “We were the first business in our area to switch over to solar power – our project is what they wrote the code to for solar power installations,” says President Mike Orso. “Before our project, the largest solar power installation in town was when someone put a couple panels in their front yard. No one got into a setup where the whole business was on solar power with a dual meter, where overrun could be sold back to the power company.” Because of the $400,000 investment – of which $100,000 was covered by state and federal grant dollars – Orso’s has reduced its electricity costs by about 60 to 70 percent. That’s $2,000 less per year going toward the grid. “I wanted to have an alternative power system in my business, and we looked at everything from wind to solar power,” Orso says.



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COVER STORY » Going Green The solar opportunity emerged after Orso transitioned his painting operations from solvent-based to waterborne, a process he began four years ago by converting two 20-year-old downdraft spraybooths to waterborne paint drying systems. Eventually, after compressor and dryer system upgrades, and later replacing the booths with zero-emission technology, Orso’s nearly doubled its painting productivity. “New technology affords us faster production time and faster drying time,” Orso says. “Instead of painting five cars a day, we can do eight or 10 projects a day in each booth.” Orso lives on the green edge. He’s an early adopter in the industry as a shop that runs zero-emission spraybooths. He recognizes that his ecoconscious business decisions come with a price tag – the two new booths cost in excess of $300,000. But the return on his investments is real. Those spraybooths each use a 150,000 BTU furnace, compared to the 1.2 million BTU furnaces of the old equipment. All together, that’s 300,000 BTUs of gas power rather than 2.4 million – essentially, the difference between heating two three-bedroom colonial houses versus 18 houses, Orso says.

Cash Flow » Orso, president of the New York State Auto Body Association, knows his green efforts are more ambitious than some. “There is a tipping point,” he acknowledges of the conundrum shops face when weighing the pay-off of investments like water-

borne conversions and alternative energy technologies. Then, there’s the cash flow issue. But there is help, and plenty of it, says Steven Schillinger, EPA Green Garage Challenge administrator. “Most body shop owners don’t do their own taxes; they usually go to a professional for that,” he says. “That’s what we’re doing for the automotive

Nick Orso’s Body Shop was the first business in its area to switch over to solar power.

industry with the Green Garage Challenge – and there are other companies out there like ours.” Schillinger’s grant-funded organization makes “green” recommendations to shops, and the investments are covered by the money saved (or the grant helps cover the remainder). “You’ve heard about reverse mort-

gages for homes – that’s the way we look at [investing in green],” he says. “You’ve got a lot of ‘found money’ you’ve been spending to operate your business.” Greening up your operation recovers that cash that’s drifting into the environment right along with the carbon emissions. “There is a value for shop owners to go green, not just because they want to be good stewards to the environment, but because there is actually money in it,” Schillinger says.

Regulations » For now, most shops in most states can choose whether to switch out their solvent-based paint to waterborne. But other states are following California’s regulatory example by requiring body shops to convert to waterborne paint. Keenan Auto Body, with 11 shops in the greater Philadelphia area and one in Delaware County, beat the regulations to the punch. “We know [regulation] is coming in Pennsylvania,” says Mike LeVasseur, president. “I saw what happened in California and said, ‘You know this is going to happen, so why don’t we be prepared for when it does become regulated?’” Delaware went waterborne in 2001. “By then, we were already two years into shooting waterborne, so it was a no-brainer,” LeVasseur says, adding that Pennsylvania is expected to follow suit with the regulation by 2015. LeVasseur estimates the investment amounted to $9,000 per booth, and the company has 14 spraybooths at its 33

COVER STORY » Going Green The solar panels at Keenan Auto Body’s Delaware County shop provide 65 percent of the shop’s energy.

locations. But now his operations are cleaner and greener – and the paint operations are just one aspect, as the


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shops “recycle everything that is possible” and utilize solar power. And LeVasseur is making sure that the

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communities his shops serve know about the efforts. “We advertise on our email signatures, and we put that we are a green company on our print ads and on our website,” he says. Customers seeking out environmentally friendly businesses find Keenan Auto Body. (A sign in front of his Delaware shop reads: “We shoot waterborne.”) “We get customers at our Delaware location who say, ‘I’m coming here because we like what you’re doing for the environment,’” LeVasseur says. Consumers, especially in the 18 to 35 demographic, want to know what service providers are doing to minimize their impact on the environment, Schillinger affirms.

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COVER STORY » Going Green retrofitted its spraybooths with new blowers. “We wanted to be ahead of the curve, and we knew we were going Going Solar » A green conto need some sort of apscience is ultimately what inparatus to assist in drying spired Vartan Jerian, vice the water-based paint, so president at H&V Collision Cenwe put drying systems into our ters in Albany, N.Y., to go solar booths. That helped us gain efat all four locations, convert to ficiencies just with solvent-based waterborne and institute a launpaint at that time.” dry list of initiatives, from recyThe measurable payback: cling to lighting to heat. waterborne dries faster because “From a personal standpoint, H&V is using a two-coat I have children and we want basecoat. “With solvent-based them to grow up in an environpaints, we were using three to ment that is a fit for them, so I Bill’s Auto Body in Thurmont, Md., is one shop that can tout six coats,” Jerian says. “We think it’s just the right thing to the “Green Garage Challenge” designation. gained the ability, at that time, do,” he says. “We have to look at everything we do and ask, ‘Can we vironment, so we talked to our paint to paint 1.5 more cars per day, which companies and made the change pretty then was about $2,100.” do it better?’” Jerian continued to mine the organH&V Collision Centers switched to quickly.” Before making the switch, H&V ization for ways to improve its carbon waterborne about seven years ago. “They will buy green first if it’s not too much of a price difference,” he says. “Think about when you go to the market: Do you buy healthy food?”


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“It wasn’t something we had to do at that point, but the systems are more efficient and better for the en-

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COVER STORY » Going Green footprint. The state’s Safe Energy Efficiency program provided an audit on all four facilities and offered recommendations. One of those was to convert to high-efficiency lighting, an ROI of 3.5 years for the $75,000 investment. “If you read any study, better lighting increases efficiency with technology, and people like to work in a better-lit

environment. So it saves money and we’re increasing production.” Last year, H&V Collision Centers installed programmable electronic thermostats in three of its shops (the fourth is converting this year). The radiant gas heat is more efficient, Jerian says. Communicating green efforts is an internal focus at H&V Collision, where

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the latest updates are provided to technicians during morning team meetings. Call it greening the culture, but gaining buy-in from the team ensures followthrough with initiatives.

The Meaning of Green » Is shooting waterborne enough to call your business “green?” What about recycling or switching out the light bulbs? Is that enough? At that point, can a shop legitimately label itself green? The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is cracking down on companies that claim their products and services are “green.” It issued Green Guides to help marketers avoid making misleading environmental claims. “Those guides are what have been the premise for millions of dollars of penalties for companies, and that has been going all the way down to body shops,” says Schillinger. For a body shop to be “green” and put an Energy Star rating on its building, it must get a 75 rating (out of 100) in greenhouse gas emissions (based on reduction.) “There are a lot of shops that say, ‘I went waterborne, so I’m green,’ and while they made a good step toward green are they?” Schillinger asks. He does the math: By going waterborne, smog-producing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are reduced by 70 or 80 percent, but the overall carbon footprint of the operation by changing the paint alone is less than 5 percent. “Seventy percent of carbon footprint greenhouse gas emissions is made up of energy,” Schillinger says. “Of that, going waterborne is less than 5 percent of the entire facility’s carbon footprint.” But waterborne paint operations involve much more than a change in chemicals. Painting operations overall can make up 30 to 50 percent of a shop’s overall energy consumption. “There are auxiliary benefits – it gets complicated,” Schillinger continues. Shops that go waterborne use a fan with a lower kilowatt rating, and paint dries faster so the fan runs for

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COVER STORY » Going Green less time. “You reduce or eliminate burning gas, too” he adds. All of these savings get added on to the energy savings tab. If a shop continues its green efforts and upgrades lighting to high-efficiency technology and improves the efficiency of spraybooths, that’s more savings. (The point here: You’ve got to take a global approach – and just going waterborne probably isn’t enough.) “If the shop rescues lighting and improves booth efficiency and reduces their waste, you add all of those percentages,” Schillinger says.

Sustainable Savings » Schillinger’s right: Calculating green does get complicated. That’s why there are tools to help, and resources such as Energy Star for Small Business, which provides free information and technical support. For example, you can access (for free) the EPA’s online energy and water


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Once a shop converts to waterborne – a simple step toward becoming more green – it must collect its solvent waste and water waste separately before recycling it.

tracking tool, called Energy Star Portfolio Manager, to measure and assess your energy performance. “You can’t manage what you can’t measure,” Schillinger says. “That’s the premise for everything when it comes to going green.”

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An energy audit – these are often free – can point you in the right direction if you’re not sure where to get started with green initiatives. You don’t have to invest hundreds of thousands to install solar panels to make a big financial impact on your

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COVER STORY » Going Green business, Schillinger says. Behavioral changes are huge. For example, simply keeping garage doors rolled down and turning off the lights can save up to 10 percent on energy costs. “A 10,000-square-foot body shop with one booth spends about $5,000, not counting insurance, for their utilities and operating expenses – electric, gas,

water, waste. A 10-percent savings is $500 per month, and all that requires is behavioral science. Turn the lights off. Roll down the doors if they don’t have to be rolled up. You don’t have to invest anything to save 10 percent.” Want more low-hanging fruit? Consider the disposal of crash products. Orso’s recycles metal, glass, aluminum,

cardboard, steel – everything possible. Arrangements are made with vendors who either credit or charge Orso’s for the Dumpster rental, depending on how much is collected. “We might get a check, or we just might not have to pay a fee,” he says. Also, solvent recyclers are relatively inexpensive, Orso says. Running solvent-based products through this type of “distiller” separates the moisture from the solvent, allowing you to recycle clean, reusable thinner. Remember there are grants, tax rebates and credits, along with other financial vehicles designed to assist with initial investments. Schillinger points to, the Database for State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency. Type in your state and see what you find. An example of one state’s incentives: “We can fill out all of those applications and you can get up to a $250,000 loan at zero-percent interest for 20 years, so you can put in a couple of paint booths or solar panels.” Sure, infrastructure like solar panels is a significant investment. “But it’s just like when you have kids going to college; if you want to spend the time and you know where to look, you can find scholarship money.” Then there’s the payback. The solar panels at Keenan Auto Body’s Delaware shop provide 65 percent of the shop’s energy. When the shop’s closed, that energy is “sold back” to the power company through renewable energy credits. The shop sells back between $25,000 to $30,000 each year. “The state grants and federal rebates made solar affordable for us,” LeVasseur says. The state financed 50 percent of the project ($250,000), and the federal government provided a rebate of 30 percent of dollars spent, which added up to another $75,000 off Keenan’s $250,000 investment. “Just start doing something, start small. A 40-gallon recycling container can put you on the path to becoming green.” BSB Kristen Hampshire is a freelance writer based in Cleveland, Ohio.

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Profit in the Paint Shop Series:

The Lost Art of Masking Precision masking is a skill you must develop if you plan on masking components while maintaining the “invisible repair” concept. Part 3 of a six-part series on how to maximize profit in the paint shop.

By Carl Wilson

To mask or not to mask; that is the question. t wasn’t always the question. There was a time when detrimming door handles and mirrors was unheard of. Naturally, we hadn’t even coined the phrase “precision mask” because everything was precision mask, or as we referred to it, “masking.” What the heck were you doing in the paint shop if you couldn’t even mask? Times certainly have changed. Generally, we don’t even consider masking various components as opposed to R&I (remove and install). These days, we often see masking as something done to jambs, adjacent panels or windshields – but only after pulling the windshield molding, as largely gone are the soft rubber windshield


moldings you could “rope” or use lifting tape under in order to slide a piece of masking tape under the edge. However, I contend that precision masking is still a skill to develop. And develop it you must if you plan on masking components while maintaining the “invisible repair” concept – not to mention a sound paint edge that resists peeling or chipping.

R&I Mindset » I suppose I’m getting ahead of myself. Your mindset may still be at “R&I the components,” with no possible reason imaginable to precision mask. Fair enough; that’s a common thought. I suspect most of us have heard the following phrases or perhaps even uttered them ourselves: “I want it done right,” “It can’t be done right if that’s not removed,” “I’m not going to do hack work” or “The paint will bridge if we

don’t take it off.” Absolutely precious. If you want to do it right, then do it right. If you refuse to do hack work, then don’t do hack work. Those are work habit integrity issues and are not representative of proper masking. As far as the paint bridging goes, for the most part, the culprit isn’t simply masking. It’s improper masking and the improper application of the sprayed coatings. Apply it, don’t “pour it on.” I’m not suggesting that we eliminate R&I procedures that facilitate efficiency and productivity in the paint shop. What I am suggesting is that there are some instances where we don’t have a choice, and in such instances, we need to be certain we can perform the task and still guarantee the outcome. “But Carl, you always have a choice!” Yeah, you’re right. We can choose to violate the federal mandate that says we must preserve VIN and R-DOT

One technique to precision mask: 1) overmask, and 2) trim back with a razor knife. The end result is 3) precision masking.

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Precision masking is important, but equally important, though living in its shadow, is precision prepping and

proper cleaning.

stickers by scraping them off or, worse yet, paint right over them. Preserving those stickers certainly is not hack work, and there is no R&I of the sticker in order to “do it right.” I’m aware that some of the OEM R-DOT stickers are already masked, but most are not. There are countless situations where you may find that you must mask, such as the molded-in “step pad” on certain rear bumper covers or the “grill” of certain front covers. Or, where you simply choose to mask due to cycle time or perhaps because the non-reusable clips that break are discontinued and the vehicle is scheduled for delivery the day after tomorrow.

Cleaning and Prepping » Precision masking is important, but equally important is precision prepping and proper cleaning. All three must be present to ensure that paint film adhesion is achieved at the painted edge/masking tape junction. Of course, properly unmasking is required as well. No chipping or peeling at the edge, in spite of the fact that you painted right up to the masked edge, is indeed possible. So how do you do it properly? It’s as simple as being faithful to the fundamentals: masking, sanding and cleaning. Attention to detail and a determination to leave as few clues as possible. Replacing the mindset of “I can’t” or “I won’t” with “I must and I will!” It takes a little longer to precision mask/prep something and not leave clues by way of overspray or overmasking, but it can be done. I offer you one of many techniques to accomplish this. It does require a little skill, but the more you perform it, the easier and more proficient you’ll become. Like many techniques, if you practice it in places where it isn’t that critical, you’ll have the skill refined when and where it is critical. Just overmask it, then trim it back with a razor knife. Don’t over penetrate with the razor knife and damage the surface below the tape. Then, sand right up to the edge of the tape, using a fresh edge of sandpaper or a sanding Circle 46 for Reader Service


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PROFIT IN THE PAINT SHOP » Part 3 pen. The key is “right up to the edge.” Do not destroy the masking tape by sanding over the edge of it and compromising the integrity of the edge. Do not destroy the tape edge by stretching and turning a tighter radius than the tape can achieve without the “memory” of the tape pulling back and allowing overspray under the edge. You

need that tape edge crisp to ensure effective masking and successful unmasking. Sometimes it’s a better choice to trim a radius into the tape rather than bend the tape around.

Mask with a Purpose » It’s helpful to always have the purpose of the masking and unmasking in mind. Pur-

pose of the masking? Yes! For example, bagging a vehicle with a plastic bag to protect it from overspray has little value if your critical edge (the masking immediately adjacent to the painted panel) of masking is adhering poorly and pulling up, allowing overspray under it. Sure, you covered the car, but you failed to protect it from overspray. Don’t just go through the motions; mask with a specific purpose and be certain the purpose is achieved. Unmasking in mind? Yeah, not simply pulling the tape away from the painted edge towards itself, but with consideration to efficiency in general. Think of unmasking as a thread pulled from a sweater, all connected and unraveling in succession. If, when possible, you can “pull the thread” of the critical

The “folded tape trick” can help in masking jambs precisely.

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PROFIT IN THE PAINT SHOP » Part 3 edge and methodically remove it in succession, you’ll find this to be quicker. And as long as the masking is in your hand, toss it onto the middle of your plastic car cover rather than on the floor, roll up the bag and toss it. This, too, will save a little time. Naturally, waiting to unmask until after you’re done with any polishing that’s required

will save time with the cleanup – all contributing to overall efficiency. As far as what tape to use with any technique, the task will dictate that for you. Sometimes a vinyltype tape is necessary. Other times, a crepe paper tape is sufficient. Considering just those two types of tape, you have dozens of choices,

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and not all tapes are equally fitted for the task.

Other Masking » On to other masking...for it’s not just precision masking techniques we need to consider but any masking that eliminates the clues of our repair. It’s easier, faster and more profitable to simply mask effectively rather than clean overspray later. The plastic car cover of today with one paintable side is an item I believe has sped up my process. Yesteryear’s version didn’t have a paintable side and, as a result, you couldn’t use the plastic for your critical edge. I know a lot of painters still prefer a papered critical edge, and that’s perfectly fine, but I for one was impressed with the results I attained using plastic at the critical edge. And it led to faster bagging and cleaner paint jobs! I like to save the pieces of plastic from trimming around a hood or door in empty tape rolls and use them later to mask the opening where a door or windshield has been removed. That little bit of proactive prevention goes a long way in keeping peace with the detailer. The greater benefit, of course, is avoiding a horrified customer who may unexpectedly show up to retrieve a garage door opener and find there’s four pounds of sanding dust coating their car’s interior. I’m well aware that not everyone cares about that, but I do. You probably do, too. I guarantee the owner of the vehicle does. Overspray is a telltale clue of our repair. Protecting components or adjacent panels from overspray is an easy task and an obvious function of masking. Avoiding the telltale sign of a hard line in a jamb, or a fuzzy oversprayed jamb, is not quite so easy but it can be done. It’s a two-pronged approach: masking and spraying. The masking requirement – be it the “folded tape trick,” a commercially manufactured transition tape or even one of the foam aperture tapes – is consistent positioning of the tape at the crown of the radius of the natural breaking point into the jamb or at the first concave within the jamb. I’ve seen

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PROFIT IN THE PAINT SHOP » Part 3 it done both ways successfully. The second prong is your spraying technique. You can’t flood the taped edge lest you bridge it and defeat the purpose of the specialty tape. The angle you spray relative to the tape position as well as your point of overlap helps facilitate this. It takes a little practice, but the results are worth it.

Door/Quarter Panel Gap » Another area that presents a bit of a challenge yet can be addressed with a simple technique is the door/quarter-panel gap. How do you prevent the sealer from over penetrating the jamb, forcing a spot/refinish operation in order to rectify it? Talk about killing efficiency. The result is a second trip into the booth to address a preventable problem. First, let’s understand why this happens. Sealer is heavier than color and therefore penetrates deeper than the color when sprayed. We’ve all seen it


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and wondered why the color doesn’t cover the sealer. Incidentally, this can happen regardless of whether you mask at the crown of the radius near the panel’s exterior field or at the first interior concave of the jamb. And, as we all know, odds are we’re going to have to paint that jamb to fix it. Let’s avoid that situation instead. My solution is simple and easy…and much faster than spot painting the jambs later. Your vehicle is in the booth, prepped, masked, wiped down, tacked and ready for spraying. Get a spray-out card (I know you have spray-out cards because you’re diligently building your own personal color library, right?) and cut it into 1.5-inch-wide strips. Gently bend them in half, avoiding a hard crease. Insert the folded card stock into the jamb prior to sealing. Once the sealer has flashed off, pull the card stock out and proceed with your color application. You’ll notice that the card

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stock has performed as a preliminary masking barrier, stopping the penetration of the sealer into the jamb.

Maximum Efficiency » The cleaner and more precise our efforts, the more efficient and productive our operation is. This bears fruit by way of improved cycle time, material savings and better margins. Better margins can result in equipment and tool investments as well as training opportunities and facility improvement, etc. Masking is simply one link in the chain, and if you can’t mask, what the heck are you doing in the paint shop? BSB Carl Wilson has been painting for nearly 30 years, with formal training from the GM Training Center, ASE, I-CAR and multiple product and color courses. He currently works as a technical rep for HiLine Distributors in Oahu, Hawaii. He can be reached at

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TECHNICAL Here is an example of foam sheeting used to seal out water from entering a particular area of a vehicle.

need for caution while welding near any foams due to their flammability looms in the mind of a technician whenever they pick up the torch. Sometimes, they wonder, “Why do they use foam here?” When it comes time to replace the foam used in today’s vehicles, technicians may not understand the ramifications of improperly using or placing them, or not replacing them at all. This is where shops need to understand that even what may seem insignificant may be much more.

Auto Foam:

Location » First, identifying where foams are located is necessary to avoid causing problems during repairs. Many automobile manufacturers have sectioning procedures designed in areas to prevent foam damage or fires. Others require foam removal before welding or sectioning to prevent

Overlooked and Misunderstood Although foams might seem like a minor part of the repair, they are not. There can be serious ramifications for improperly using them, improperly placing them or not replacing them at all. Here’s a quiz for you and your technicians:

By Mitch Becker

1. What does NVH stand for? 2. Where is pillar foam found? 3. What is the ratio of expansion of foam? 4. What primer is most often recommended under foam?

he answers to the quiz on the left may, or may not, surprise you. If you read through this article and then answer all correctly, then congratulations! You’re keeping up on technology. If you miss a couple, then you, like myself, could probably use a reminder on the use and need for automotive foams.


A Nuisance » Technicians often look at foams in vehicles as almost a nuisance in the repair process. The 54

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fires. Once repairs are complete, all foams must be replaced. Procedures for locating foams can be found on manufacturer websites, OEM repair procedure providers or the I-CAR FOM-01 course. Another source for information is the State Farm tool tech site, which has some short films on the proper use of many products.

Function » Foam in today’s vehicles has many functions, some obvious and some not so obvious. One function is noise vibration and harshness (NVH). Foams used for this purpose help to keep wind noise levels down in areas where air flow becomes strong. The foams are also used in places where vibration of parts or panels could create unwanted road noise. Foams also protect parts from the harshness of roadways, environment

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TECHNICAL » Auto Foam and use. Simply put, foams are used to keep water and roadway chemicals from entering where they should not. Foams also can be used to keep metal from fatiguing prematurely, such as in door hinge areas. As you read this article, it’s important to note that foams do not always require replacement. There is some reparability on some foams to be reused, but where and how is up to the car manufacturer. Many foam manufacturers will also have instructions as to when and where repair and reuse is possible. Some will require a new product or part. The same is true of rails and quarter panels. In rocker panels, we may find plastic carrier foams that activate during the manufacturing process to control air and stiffen panels. If removed for repairs, they may be trimmed and reused if not damaged. Some carriers may need

to be added, such as in the Camaro quarter panel.

Forms » The foams come in many forms, from the soft foam blocks to urethane two-part products. Soft foam blocks are low-density products, whereas sound dampening materials and structural foams are strong. Each type has one or more qualities that serve as reasons why and where it’s used. 䡲 Soft foam or foam fillers. This foam is found throughout the vehicle in areas where wind or howling may be an issue. Most times, we find it sort of jammed in places. An example is in rearview mirror pockets on doors. Because of its flexible nature, many times it’s removed and reinstalled. It’s most likely used in dry areas where moisture is not a concern. The foam is open celled in nature, and water can and will wick in or saturate.

Soft foam used at the bottom of a quarter panel to block moisture and reduce noise, vibration and harshness.

Anti-flutter foam used at the top of a quarter panel to reduce wind noise and wind vibration.

Foam used between panels to reduce vibration.

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Here, the automaker filled the area where the fender meets the door to seal out wind noise.

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1 2

This is a semi-rigid foam on a 2014 Range Rover designed to keep moisture out of the rocker panel.

The triangular foam (1) attached by adhesive blocks holes where air passes through, acting as a filter so no dust enters the occupant compartment. The other foam (2) is a two-part soft foam designed to reduce noise, vibration and harshness. Pre-cut placement foam designed to reduce noise, vibration and harshness.

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Although simplistic in nature, it may be overlooked and not replaced. This may bring a vehicle back to the shop after repairs due to the wind noise that often occurs from not reinstalling the foam or improperly replacing it. 䡲 Flexible foams or flutter foams. These types of foams are used in between panels and reinforcements. They’re usually used to prevent the fluttering of the metal as the vehicle travels down the highway. It’s soft, but not too soft. When compressed, it will return to its original shape. The foam may also adhere to both surfaces, securing the panels. This is evident on door skins and intrusion beams. Another application is for the blocking of water or moisture. When undamaged, it will be a closed cell structure, forming a skin that can block water from entering. If the closed cell foam is damaged or cut, it should be sealed with two-part urethane sound deadening material or urethane adhesive, which will prevent moisture issues and reduce the chance of corrosion. This is evident on the new Ford trucks on the upper rail under the fender where it comes into the A-pillar. The foam prevents water from getting to interior welds and areas that are less corrosion-protected. It may not look pretty, but it’s an important area to apply foams if damaged or removed. 䡲 Semi-rigid foams, pillar foams and rigid foams. Depending on which product manufacturer you use, these foams are used in areas that may need to have a stiffener to prevent flex or vibration. This helps keep the vehicle quieter while traveling down the road. The stiffness may prevent metal panels from moving and causing metal fatigue, which is why we see these foams near hinges. As the door opens and closes, metal movement may cause fatiguing of the steel, which may cause cracking and failure of steels further down the road. Semirigid and rigid foams can also be used to prevent water from entering the body cavities of a vehicle. These

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TECHNICAL » Auto Foam two-part products fill a void and may adhere to all surfaces. Semi-rigid foam, when compressed, will not return to its original shape. It offers limited reinforcement to help maintain shape and manage energy. It is not to be confused with structural foam and is not in any way interchangeable. If the foam is damaged or cut, seal the cells with a sound dampening material or urethane adhesive to prevent water from entering. The stiffness and placement of these foams is critical to some safety system sensors. Side impact airbags may rely on the foam stiffness to deploy the curtain airbags faster in a collision, so failure to replace or improper placement could change reaction times. 䡲 Structural foam. This is a twopart product that, when cured, is very strong. It’s used to stiffen engineering changes and reinforce energy areas of the vehicle and should never


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be substituted for any other foam product. Structural foam can normally be found in torque boxes on frames, but it may also be found in pillars and lower rails. Because of its strength, structural foam can be difficult to remove. Find ways to remove all existing foams, but limit the damage to metals. 䡲 Pre-formed foam blocks. These play a critical role in energy movement in doors and under panels. As mentioned with the semi-rigid foams, preformed blocks may play a role in airbag activation during side impact and rollover situations. They may be held in by clips or glued in place. When damaged, they must be replaced. With some vehicle manufacturers, if the glued-in-place blocks must be removed or have come loose, they must be replaced – even if they are not physically damaged. The fact that they came loose or the glue seal

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broke is enough to be concerned as they may be contaminated to the point where they can’t be reattached. I cannot express enough the importance of them being in their proper locations and staying in there proper locations during the crash. The preformed blocks also are behind trim panels. They protect in body strike zones to prevent the human body from hitting steel components. They also can help steel components from hitting the human body, which can be seen in door panels and A-pillar interior trim panels. WARNING: The use of foams that are not specifically engineered or approved for automotive use can cause damage to vehicles. Many consumer foams may be available at stores and should not be used. These foams can be acidic in nature and expand at uncontrollable rates, causing major problems for technicians.


Spotlight TEK ELITE Continues A Tradition Of Quality Rubber-Seal Medallion Refinish System has been providing quality automotive products to OEMs and the automotive aftermarket since 1948. We continue to develop products that maximize the appearance of repaired vehicles, while increasing productivity and profitability for our customers. Medallion Refinish System is proud to introduce TEK ELITE into our family of products. TEK ELITE was designed to provide collision shops with products that are easy to use, while providing them with first-class results. All TEK ELITE products are V.O.C. compliant in North America.

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MRS-7980 TEK ELITE Primer Surfacer is a two-component, urethane primer with excellent anti-corrosion properties. It is easy to spray and provides excellent film build with an almost texture-free surface. MRS7980 can be used on a variety of automotive substrates including bare metal, aluminum, SMC, fiberglass, etc. MRS-850 TEK ELITE Waterborne Primer Sealer is a one-component, waterborne sealer with excellent solvent-resistance and anti-corrosion properties. It sprays and levels to an exceptionally smooth, non-porous surface. MRS-850 provides superior gloss holdout and is ideal for use in a variety of applications. It is available in black or white and can be intermixed to any shade of gray. MRS-21 TEK ELITE Acrylic Urethane Clearcoat is a 4 to 1 clearcoat that provides excellent gloss retention. It is ideal for multi-panel or overall refinishing. MRS-21 utilizes a variable speed catalyst system to provide consistent performance in a variety of weather conditions.

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TECHNICAL » Auto Foam Once the foam goes in, getting it out is very difficult.

Application » The application of foams can be as simple as shoving them into a void, or applying them into a trapezoid-shaped area. How to apply enough to be effective and not overdo it and waste money and time is a fairly simple approach. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions in preparing the vehicle for foams. I emphasize this because I continually see corrosion issues on vehicles that have been repaired. But also understand that there are shops out there that do an incredible job on all aspects of repairs. If I were their customer, I would be ecstatic to get my car back better than it ever was. The number of these types of shops is growing as instructions become more available. Removal » Find a way of removing foam that’s the least intrusive and/


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or least damaging to metal. I find using new, hard plastic chisels causes less damage to metals. I also like mild abrasive wheels or bristle disks as they will remove material and not thin the metal. The lack of grinding will also keep the heat from damaging the metal. Also, there are file belt sanders on the market that are incredible tools for removing existing foams where required. Remember that any bare metal exposed must be primed according to directions. Many recommend using an epoxy primer in repair areas as it is an excellent barrier coat for moisture and chemicals. The foams will also adhere to the epoxy primer very well. The application of foams can be as simple as cutting to size and smushing in place. Two-part epoxy and urethane foams, however, will be different in that they will require some thought: how much foam? Where does it need to be when cured? Where is access to apply?

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Establish access points. Figure out where foams need to be and how to get there. In most cases, there is a hole to work with. Drilling or creating access is not an option. As in some plastic carriers, they may be glued in place when panels are put together for welding. Squeeze type resistance spot welding is great for not affecting or burning materials used. When access is found, how much travel to the destination needs to be established. For example, the access may be 30 inches from where the foam needs to be. Thus, you would need to pump it in as liquid very quickly to get it to travel that distance before expanding.

How Much? » We need to find out how much foam is needed. If it’s in a long rail, an oddly-shaped hollow part or a gap, simple math equations will help to establish how much volume is necessary. Once cured volume is established,

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TECHNICAL » Auto Foam we need to know the expansion rate of the foam to be used. Many are a 1:10 ratio. This means for every one ounce of product dispensed, it will expand to 10 ounces of cured material. We want to be sure of how much material to use because if too much is used, it will expand and block areas not necessary or flow out of holes and joints, making a mess. If too little foam is used, we may not have enough required to keep the vehicle quiet, among other things. The expansion is related to the temperature being used. If the temperature of the product is low, it will react slower and expand less in volume. If warmer than recommended, it will expand fast with more volume. Be sure to check temperature and expansion rates before use. Many suppliers offer a chart on these. Structural foam will react differently. This foam has a low expansion rate. Some manufacturers’ product must be heated before dispensing. This foam must be used (as all others) according to product and vehicle manufacturers’ specifications.

Mixing Tips and Speed » Once we learn our expansion ratio, we need to be sure the proper mixing tip is used. They are specific for different products used, and they may fit the package but will mix incorrectly. The wrong tip could create a major mess. Adhesive mixing tips and foam mixing tips may be totally different. We also need to figure in trigger speed, which will affect the viscosity of the product. If we need foam to travel a distance down or into a panel, we need a lower viscosity product to achieve this. By the technician triggering fast, the liquid foam will travel to the desired area. If the foam is needed right at the access point, we need a higher viscosity or damming material. By gunning slower, the technician will create a foam that begins expanding immediately out of the mixing tip, limiting travel. Damming materials will be used to hold foams in place when the travCircle 64 for Reader Service


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eling of liquid is not desired past a certain point. Dams can be made of different materials and cut to size. Be sure to use materials not affected by moisture such as paper and cardboard. A painter’s glove or balloon inflated in the area works well as a damming material and can be removed once the foam has cured. Mentioned before are plastic clips or carriers, which may be trimmed down and reused in most cases. After the foam is applied, follow vehicle manufacturers’ guidelines as to corrosion protection. This important step will help to seal out moisture and prevent corrosion.

Bumper Foams » As far as preformed foams or foams used in bumpers go, it’s best to replaced damaged ones. Vehicle manufacturers have guidelines to follow regarding the use of these blocks or pieces of foam. Also, these foams or foams attached to the top of wheel skirts may not be structural but they do keep a lot of road noise to a minimum. A good rule of thumb is if the vehicle manufacturer did not need it, the part or foam or product would not be there. One step often overlooked in this procedure is to follow directions. Product makers have wall charts to identify which foam to use and its various uses. The next is application. All instructions take just a little time to read for the best results.

Verify » Always verify to see that the shop is using the right foams at the right places. Although they may seem like a minor part of the repair, they are not. Happy customers are the results of things going right the first time. If technicians are having problems, look on YouTube for manufacturer videos. These videos can become priceless for training technicians. BSB Mitch Becker is a technical instructor for ABRA Auto Body & Glass. Contact him at (763) 585-6411 or mbecker@

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Lessons Learned » American Autobody strives to make customers feel at home, and one way it accomplishes that is by hiring skilled professionals. All of the company’s estimators have prior repair experience, so they’re able to both work on cars and write sheets. In addition, the By Gina Kuzmick shop ensures that its techs stay in check by regularly attending I-CAR classes. ariah Litton was only a year “We make sure all of our techs are upold when she started doing dated on their education and that we’re commercials for her dad’s col- aware of all the new trends coming down lision repair business in the pipeline,” said Litton. “We want to Billings, Mont. Twenty-three years later, treat every car like it’s our grandma’s car she has retained that initial interest in or mom’s car. We’re making sure we’re marketing but has worked her way up taking really good care of our customers.” from commercial appearances to taking Being business-savvy is as equally imon administrative responsibilities. portant as being able to properly fix cars. At American Autobody, she has the That’s why Litton and her parents stay official title of “customer service repre- as up to date as possible by taking consentative,” but you could also call her an tinuing education courses. Her mom and “educator” and “advocate.” dad frequently go to classes at the Masters “We want to educate and empower School of Autobody Management, while our customers so they feel comfortable she attends online, collision-focused classes

to the People By educating and empowering customers via radio spots and organized classes, American Autobody has carved out a niche for itself in its market as a shop to trust.


coming to us with questions, whether it’s for a repair or something simple like changing oil,” she said.


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SHOP PROFILE » Power to the People as well as business and marketing courses at local colleges. “There’s something to be said for being able to fix cars, but if you don’t understand the business aspect of it, it makes it difficult,” said Litton. “You need to know how much money you’re spending and how much money you’re making. That’s all going to tie into

your work you do on the back end.”

Empowering Customers » One of Litton’s mantras is that customers should be informed as much as possible. To reach out to fellow drivers, she discusses car care tips on a local radio show every Friday. Topics range from how to check and change tires to repair

rights, but the goal is the same: to educate and empower customers. “The first time I went on there, we talked about how you have the right to choose the body shop that best fits your needs, and you have the right to only go to one shop for an estimate. You would be amazed how many people didn’t know that,” she said. An increasing number of the shop’s clients are young adults, and Litton noticed that many of them get overwhelmed and are unsure of what to do when they get in an accident. That’s when she decided to take action by visiting local driver’s education classes and educating young drivers on the entire post-accident process – everything from towing a vehicle to getting an estimate to knowing their rights.

Eye ducating the customer is one thing, but without tracking key performance indicators (KPI) such as cycle time and touch time on every vehicle, the production side of American Autobody’s business would falter. American Autobody job costs every job, considering everything from parts profit margin to the technician assigned to the job. They use management software to track KPIs and also use scoreboards to track sales and production. “The boards are in a location where our employees can view them,” said Mariah Litton. “We have two daily progress meetings where our team analyzes jobs that are in progress. In one meeting, our technicians discuss their headway on vehicles they’re working on as well as address any of their concerns. In the second meeting, our office staff discusses sales and vehicle production. The office staff meeting can cover a range of topics from concerns that a customer may want addressed on a specific vehicle to any other factors that relate to our production and sales.”


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SHOP PROFILE » Power to the People “We feel that being in an accident is already frustrating and upsetting enough that you don’t need to be driving all over town or feeling like you’re forced to go anywhere.” Being visible in the community has resulted in “front-of-mind awareness” among potential customers. By discussing collision repair and car care at the local radio station and driver’s ed classes, American Autobody is subtly marketing its business while providing education. “In a business where the average person has an accident every eight to 10 years, you really depend on that referral business.”




Location: Billings, Mont. Established: 1985 Square Footage: 17,000 Owner: Todd Litton Number of Employees: 5.5 technicians (the .5 is a young man who just got out of school and is still learning the ropes), 3 painters, 1 detailer, 3 estimators, 1 production/shop manager, 1 parts manager, 2 customer service reps, 1 finance officer, 1 owner Gross Sales: $3.2 million Repair Volume/Number of Cars Per Month: 120 Average Repair Cost: $2,200 DRPs: 6 (USAA, Farmers, State Farm, Mountainwest Farm Bureau, Hartford, Kemper)

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Behind the Bays Estimating System: Audatex and CCC1 Management System: Profitnet Spraybooths: 2 Garmat Lifts: Eagle Measuring/Dimensioning System: Chief Welding Equipment: Car-O-Liner, spot welders Paint Mixing System: Standox Universe Paint: Standox Future Equipment Purchases: None


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UseeddA Us AutoBody A Auto Au toB oBo Body dyE dy Equipm Equ ippme ment. com om What Would You Do With The CASH?? Look around your shop. Take a minute and really look around!! A clean, uncluttered shop is a profitable shop. Do you have any equipment you bought that’s really not being used as much as you thought? Is it taking up valuable shop space that could be more productive with a job...rather than as storage space? Is something in disrepair and you just don’t have the time to deal with it? Did you buy the updated version and the new equipment salesman wanted nothing to do with your old stuff? Could you use a little extra cash? OR...Are you a new shop owner, short on cash, who needs equipment just to get started? A shop owner in need of equipment to supplement your existing equipment? Or, just can’t stomach the price of the new stuff? was designed with you in mind!! “” was designed with you in mind!! Sell...Buy...or Trade with other shop owners across the country or in your neighborhood. Get your shop more productive...more profitable...and either “save a dollar”...or “make a dollar.” This is a NEW and EXCITING concept in auto body equipment exchange. Log on today!!!!!!!! List it TODAY...and put the money in your pocket TOMORROW!!!

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SHOP PROFILE » Power to the People Banding Together » It’s an interesting time to be involved in the collision industry as it is rapidly evolving and

changing. Rather than viewing other shops as enemies, American Autobody attempts to work with competing

shops in the area. Working with other shops ultimately results in a win-win for both parties, according to Litton. “You would be amazed at the ideas, especially once everyone starts to open up and realize you’re not trying to steal their ideas. With the way the industry is changing the way it is, I think it’s important for shops to stick together and talk because that’s what’s going to get us through this thing.”

Going Forward » American Autobody has toyed with the idea of expanding, but its main focus is currently on maintaining customer satisfaction. “We understand that every body shop does things differently, but I feel when you expand, sometimes you lose that one-on-one experience your customers desire,” said Litton. Litton is trying to learn as much as she can about the collision industry. Her mom, who currently handles the bookkeeping, is beginning to pass her knowledge on to her daughter so she can continue to grow her career. “I want to be able to know what’s going on with the cars in the back as well as how our customers are doing up front,” she said. “Right now, my big goal is to prove myself and show that I’m worthy of stepping up to that next level of taking over.” Circle 72 for Reader Service

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SHOP PROFILE » Power to the People

Heels &

Automobiles H

eels & Automobiles is a free, quarterly car care clinic American Autobody offers at its shop that’s dedicated to educating women in the community on the ins and outs of owning and maintaining a vehicle. “We realized that many people can feel intimated by their vehicles and felt this would be a great way to reach out and help women in the community better understand their vehicles,” said Mariah Litton. “Heels & Automobiles also helps us to facilitate a positive relationship with community members before they get in an accident. Rightfully so, many of our customers are upset when they initially come to visit us. They’re stressed about having just been in an accident and are worried about what’s going to happen next. This was a great way to invite community members to come visit American Autobody in a stress-free environment.” The class can accommodate up to 45 women, who learn about: 䡲 Checking various fluids in their vehicle (oil, transmission fluid and washer fluid)

䡲 Roadside safety (how to change a flat tire and jump start a dead battery) 䡲 Repair rights and what to do after an accident 䡲 The importance of buckling up and not texting and driving The shop even sets off an airbag for added effect. American Autobody held its first class in January and will hold another one this April. “We couldn’t be more thrilled with the response we’ve gotten,” says Mariah Litton. “Both our January class and this April’s class were so popular we had to start ‘wait lists.’ After the class, women made a point to sign up to attend the class again and invite their friends and family. We even had a gal save a spot for her sister-in-law, who is commuting threeand-a-half hours just to attend our clinic.” Guests at the special event were encouraged to arrive early and check out the shop and take advatnage of free back massages, eyebrow waxes, makeup tutorials and hand massages. Scan the QR code to the right with your smartphone to check out a video of the event. BSB

BodyShop Business Is On Facebook And Twitter! Join the social networking revolution by following us on Twitter and becoming our fans on Facebook! 䡲 Instant news updates 䡲 Connect with other readers 䡲 Learn about promotions/contests 䡲 Live coverage of trade shows and conferences 䡲 Communicate with the BodyShop Business editorial team “BodyShop Business” on Facebook


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»| Industry Update |« Florida continued from pg. 12 ing. “It’s amazing how fast the repair industry is changing. Shops now realize they are not fighting alone. Some of the top tobacco litigators in the country are now included as legal counsel for many states. Former attorney generals are counsel for many members. The fight is beginning to shift to a more even playing field. “Right is right, wrong is wrong, and the insurance industry will soon answer for the years of hardship and wrongdoing they have dominated our industry with. It’s refreshing to go out and

meet these shops and associations and leave knowing the shops now understand they should not be afraid to join this fight for justice – they should be afraid not to join. They now realize the repair industry is fighting for survival. When we went to Texas, the Texas guys were fired up, and each one wanted to be the first to sign up to fight.” Mosley and Eaves are currently touring the country and informing the industry of their efforts and answering questions concerning parts procurement and recovering short pays.

Social Media continued from pg. 12 they paid me for the seam sealer and every process I had to do. I tell any insurer if there is a process I’m not doing on a vehicle, I will pay you back. I will prove everything I’m doing. We’re taking pictures of every single thing now. “One big insurer told me some of these shops in the backyard will charge for this and this, and I say do your job and go catch them and find them not doing those things and make them pay you back. I recently wrote a car for $5,040 and State Farm wrote an estimate for $2,800, threw it on my desk and ran. I made them come back out, rewrite it and go over it with me and they ended up writing the same estimate as me.” By telling the collision world about his new communication tool, Cantrelle hopes other shops will see the light and join Twitter and realize it’s a great way to know what other shops in other parts of the country are dealing with.


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»| Industry Update |«

National PDR Nation Puts Spotlight on Qualified Paintless Dent Repair Technicians desire to hold professional paintless dent repair (PDR) techs accountable fueled by a strong social media campaign has led to the formation of a new non-profit group of PDR professionals. Fed up with shoddy paintless dent repairs, a handful of professional PDR technicians formed PDR Nation to put a spotlight on qualified PDR pros from all over the world who are not afraid of being held accountable for the quality of their work. PDR Nation was formed by five founding board members who came from two distinct camps of these craftsmen. The chairman, Ryan Hampton, is a “hail tech,” and the vice chairman, Sal Contreras, is a “door dinger.” Currently, 16 board members, advisors and administrative staff serve PDR Nation’s growing membership. “Through all the communication we did on Facebook, we decided to organize into a non-profit organization so we could certify ourselves and prove we’re insured and have experience and have taken tests,” says Contreras. The organization started on Jan. 1 and already has 120-plus techs as members. These members trade photos via social media of work done by unqualified individuals to reinforce the need for shops and insurers to know who they’re working with. “That’s why we decided to get the best of the best together,” Contreras says. “What has happened to our industry is that a lot of corners are being cut. Our type of work can create an unsafe situation. Work is not being done right where holes are being drilled in cars to get to the dents and dents are being pushed to the point where the paint is almost cracking


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and then being sanded down just to make it look better. “It’s crazy, the type of repairs being done that are unsafe. People shouldn’t be driving those cars because they would whistle if you drove them down the road because so many holes are drilled into the car.” PDR Nation’s website features a “tech finder,” tips on how to select a qualified tech, a tutorial on how to estimate properly, and a tech review system. “With Yelp and other online review sites out there, we decided to build one ourselves so people can write reviews of our members, which could be suicide for them if they don’t do the highest quality work,” says Contreras.

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»| Industry Update |«

Midwest Auto Body Trade Show to Feature Presentation on F-150 he Iowa Collision Repair Association (ICRA) has announced that Paul Massie, Ford Motor Company’s powertrain and collision product marketing manager, will be offering a video presentation webinar on the 2015 Ford F-150 pickup at its Fourth Annual Midwest Auto Body Show to be held Thursday, March 20 at Prairie Meadows, 1 Prairie Meadows Drive, Altoona, Iowa. Massie will be presenting information on the highstrength, military-grade aluminum alloy included


in the F-150 and conducting a Q & A session following the presentation. The theme of this year’s show is, “The Future Is Now.” It is a free interindustry event for collision repairers, insurers, manufacturers, vendors, recyclers, OEMs and students to attend. There will also be a “There is No Free Lunch” program that will feature several guests. Iowa Senator Brad Zaun and ICRA lobbyist Scott Weiser will bring the industry up to date on this year’s legislation. Pete Tagliapietra of

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NuGen IT will moderate an “Insurer Mandate – Parts Procurement” panel discussion and will close the luncheon with a presentation titled, “Information Technology and the Future of Collision Repair.” “This critical information is something our colleagues will only receive in this forum,” said John Arnold, owner of Arnold’s Body Shop in Davenport, Iowa, and vice president of ICRA. “There is tremendous value in what is happening here.” The trade show floor, which will feature more

than 65 vendor display booths, will open after the luncheon and host free “Training in the Round” education sessions. ICAR’s New Technology 2014 starts the day at 8:30 a.m. Show specials, gift certificates, special show discounts and door prizes will also be available. “This is the largest and best Midwest show yet,” says trade show chairman Dick Merron of Iowa Auto Rebuilders in Waterloo, Iowa. “We are proud to bring this high-level education, training and networking to the collision industry. We have to be prepared for what is coming, and now is the time to do it.”

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»| Industry Update |« Industry Provides Record $9.4 Million Support for CREF In 2013, the collision industry nearly doubled the 2012 amount of support it provided to high school and college collision school programs through the Collision Repair Education Foundation with nearly $9.4 million in product and monetary donations. Also, working with a lean staff of four full-time employees, the Foundation was able to put 90 cents of every dollar donated toward supporting the school programs, instructors and students in 2013. “The incredible growth in support that the Collision Repair Education Foundation has been able to provide since 2008 is a direct result of the industry’s generosity, and to nearly double the amount donated in 2013 compared to 2012 shows how much our supporters believe in the technical education of the industry’s future professionals,” said Clark Plucinski, executive director of the Collision Repair Education Foundation. “The vast majority of the donations are in the form of in-kind donations such as parts, tools, equipment and supplies which are greatly valued by the collision school programs due to their limited budgets. “In 2014, we are increasing our focus on securing additional monetary donations in order to be more strategic and impactful as a collision industry foundation. As a result, monetary donations provide the greatest flexibility to fund the industry’s most pressing needs as well as emerging opportunities that cannot be addressed with in-kind support. Furthermore, the Foundation is working on innovative initiatives and has developed a new model for collaboration that we believe will deliver tremendous value back to the collision industry. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, staff and collision school programs we support nationwide, we thank our 2013 supporters and look forward to working closely with the collision industry in 2014.”

NACE/CARS Issues Preliminary Schedule for 2014 NACE/CARS 2014 has issued a preliminary schedule for its annual event that will take place during Industry Week July 30 through Aug. 2 at the COBO Center in Detroit: Monday, July 28: CIECA, SCRS, NABC and other board meetings and roundtables Tuesday, July 29: CIC quarterly meeting and evening reception Wednesday, July 30: I-CAR annual meeting and gala reception, NACE personal development programs, industry and museum tours, ASA board meeting Thursday, July 31: NACE and CARS conference sessions and exhibition, ALCOA aluminum presentations, Collision Repair Education Foundation annual golf tournament and scholarship fundraiser, industry and museum Friday, Aug. 1: NACE and CARS conference sessions and exhibition, MSO Symposium, Mechanical Symposium, ALCOA aluminum presentations, industry and museum tours Saturday, Aug. 2: CARS technical conference sessions, industry and museum tours The Marriott at the Renaissance Center will serve as the headquarter hotel. The hotel is a short walk along the river to the convention center, or one stop on the motorized People Mover. There will also be numerous tours and recreational outings for spouses, guests and families, including museum tours, Detroit Tigers baseball games, river and city tours, and casino visits. For more information, visit

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»| Industry Update |«

Corporate Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes Announces 2014 Second Quarter Training Schedule herwin-Williams Automotive Finishes has announced the schedule for its 2014 second quarter training sessions. These courses will run from April through June throughout the U.S. at the company’s advanced regional training centers. Participants will learn through a combination of classroom, Web and


hands-on settings. Designed for shop owners, managers, painters and technicians, attendees can choose from various workshops to advance their business-building, production excellence and/or paint application techniques. The following courses will be offered during the second quarter: 䡲 Estimating Solutions for Profit

䡲 Color Adjustment and Blending 䡲 AWX Performance Plus Waterborne System Painter Certification 䡲 ATX Refinish System Painter Certification Many of these courses tie directly into the Sherwin-Williams philosophy of “lean thinking” –

Medallion Refinish System to Exhibit at NORTHEAST Show Medallion Refinish System, a manufacturer and seller of automotive coatings and repair products, has announced that it will be exhibiting at the NORTHEAST 2014 Automotive Services Show, taking place March 21-23 at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, N.J. This year, the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of New Jersey (AASP/NJ) has put together one of the largest regional shows for the automotive repair industry with a jam-packed schedule of seminars, demonstrations and other activities for attendees. Online pre-registration is now open for the NORTHEAST 2014 Auto-

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introducing concepts that support environmentally responsible practices – which increase productivity while minimizing or often eliminating waste, according to Rod Habel, Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes director of training operations.

motive Services Show at Pre-registration is free (on-site registration the weekend of the show is $10 at the door). “We are looking forward to exhibiting at the show for our third straight year,” said Jim Neumann, vice president for Medallion Refinish System. “The show has continued to grow, and it’s a great opportunity for us to interact with our existing customers and potential new customers.” Rubber-Seal Medallion Refinish System can be found at Booth 307. For more information regarding the NORTHEAST 2014 Automotive Services Show, visit www.

»| Industry Update |«

Matrix System and Pro-Spray Finishes to Exhibit at 2014 NORTHEAST Show uest Automotive Products, a division of Quest Specialty Chemicals, a top 20 North American coatings manufacturer, has announced that it will be supporting the NORTHEAST 2014 Automotive Services Show and the region by exhibiting the Matrix System and ProSpray Finishes brands at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, N.J. This year, the Alliance



of Automotive Service Providers of New Jersey (AASP/NJ) has put together one of the largest regional shows for the association of collision and mechanical repairers. Collision and mechanical repairers attending this year’s show will be able to participate in a variety of seminars touching on every phase of the automotive repair process, as well as view live demos and meet industry special guests. Online pre-registration

March 2014 | BodyShop Business

for the NORTHEAST 2014 Automotive Services Show is now open at Pre-registration is free (on-site registration the weekend of the show is $10 at the door). NORTHEAST 2014 takes place March 21-23 at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, N.J. “We are excited to have both of our automotive paint brands, Matrix System and Pro-Spray, at the show this year,” said Laura Yerkey, director of

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marketing for Quest Automotive Products. “This regional show has an excellent reputation and is a great venue to engage with our current customers and reach out to potential new customers with our profitable refinish solutions.” The show will be open at the following times: 䡲 Friday, March 21, 5-10 p.m. 䡲 Saturday, March 22, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 䡲 Sunday, March 23, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

BodyShop Business will be handing out

That’s right, prestigious awards this year:

Single-Shop Executive of the Year Multi-Shop Executive of the Year If you don’t submit your nomination form by April 1, you'll be

late. Scan this code with your smartphone to nominate now. These awards are given to true collision repair "visionaries," people who have experienced great success by being forward thinking, overcoming challenges and persevering. Winners will be selected based on experience, special achievements and involvement within the collision repair industry and the local community.

»| Industry Update |«

Consolidation Gerber Collision & Glass Opens New Stores in Arizona and Maryland he Boyd Group Inc. has announced the opening of three new Gerber Collision & Glass centers, two of which are located in Arizona and one in Maryland. With these new additions, the Boyd Group now operates 223 U.S. locations. In Arizona, the new Mesa-Hampton Avenue facility is the fourth location in Mesa. The second facility, Tempe – 3rd Street, is 15,000 square feet and will be the third location in Tempe. With these two new additions, the Boyd Group now operates 17 repair centers in Arizona. The repair center in Ellicott City, Md., is located in a newly renovated building with one of the largest dealership groups in the market. It will be the Boyd Group’s second location in Ellicott City and 10th location in Maryland. “With the addition of three new repair centers, we continue with our growth rate of 6 to 10 percent through single-store additions,” said Tim O’Day, president and COO of the Boyd Group’s U.S. operations. “Our new locations are very well situated, providing enhanced opportunities to increase brand awareness while expanding our reach to new customers and better assisting our insurance partners in these suburban markets.”


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Aflac Aframe Spray Booths Airomax/U.S.Body Products Airvantage Tools Inc American Family Insurance American Honda Motor Co Automotive Mgmt Institute Automotive Service Equipment Axalta Coating Systems BASF Corporation BendPak Bernardo Ecenarro Blair CCC Cebotech Inc Certified Auto Parts Association ChemSpec USA Chief Automotive Crash-writeR DEKRA Dent Fix Equipment Dominion Sure Seal DV Systems


PG. #

67 34 4 36 49 29 80 40 5 19 84, Insert 62 56 11 63, 80 7 23 18 68 81 9, Insert 52 42

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PG. #


Eagle Abrasives Elektron Inc Evercoat FBS Distribution Co Inc. Garmat USA Herkules Equipment Corp Homak Manufacturing Company Inc. Hyundai Motors America I-Car Induction Innovations Innovative Tools & Technologies, Inc. International Epoxies & Sealers Intuit Kaeser Compressor Logicar Inc Malco Products Martech Services Co Matrix System Automotive Finishes LLC Motor Guard Corp NACE Northeast Show O’Reilly Auto Parts PDR Nation

84 38 3, 75 50 17 22 59 45 55 48 15 60 73 46 30-31 25 64, 69 77 81 79 87 83 72

PPG Industries Pro Spot International Pro-Spray Finishes RBL Products RBL Products Reflex Truck Liners Rubber-Seal Products S.A.I.M.A. Of N America Sata Spray Equipment Scorpion Truck Bed Linings Shop-Pro Equipment Southern Polyurethanes Spanesi Steck Mfg Co Suburban Mfg Toyota TYC/Genera Corp Urethane Supply Co US Chemical & Plastics Valspar/Debeer Zendex Tool Corporation

PG. #

Cover 2 -1 53, Cover 3 27 21 76 58 16, 61 41 35 78 39 47 26 72 82 Cover 4 57, 65 37 43 71, 78 51 86

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Showcase Comfortable Alternative to Kneeling The heavy-duty Knee Saver work seat provides a more comfortable alternative to kneeling on the ground while performing a restoration job on a vehicle. With a 300-pound capacity and thickly padded kneepads for comfort, this seat allows users to sit in a kneeling position that reduces pressure on their lower backs. With the wheels and convenient tool tray built into the seat, the restoration process moves a lot faster by providing easy accessibility to tools and a more efficient transportation around the vehicle. The seat also has an adjustable height and tilt that offers multiple positions for users. S&H Industries Circle 150 for Reader Service

Auto-Darkening Helmet The VIKING 2450D Digital Series Auto-Darkening Helmet is equipped with pivot-style headgear, improved optical clarity with enhanced color recognition and a three-year warranty. It can be set to three different modes (welding, cutting and grinding) and interacts with an easy-to-understand LCD screen interface. Lincoln Electric Circle 151 for Reader Service

Quickly Extract Bolts and Screws The Unique Extractor Kit is designed to make screw and bolt extraction faster, easier and safer. Lefthanded cobalt drill bits create a pilot hole for the extractor and also loosen, or even remove, corroded threaded fasteners. The straightfluted extractors provide extra bite in the pilot hole and can be torqued in either direction to loosen a frozen screw or bolt. For use with screw or bolt diameters of Âź to 5/8-inches, this 10-piece kit contains five straight-fluted, alloy steel extractors and five matched lefthanded cobalt drill bits. Malco Products, Inc. Circle 153 for Reader Service

Safely Remove Scum from Tires and Wheels

The new MW-200 Mobile Wheel Lift provides collision repair shops with a tool that reduces the risk of employee injury during the wheel removal and reinstallation processes while simultaneously increasing productivity. To use, the technician raises the lift to wheel level, positions the wheel within the lift, rolls the lift backward and lowers the lift to the ground. The MW-200 provides 200 pounds of capacity at 100 psi, enough to lift a broad range of wheels and tires.

All Wheel & Tire Cleaner safely removes stubborn road grime, brake dust and general scum without staining or etching wheels. It is safe on factory as well as custom wheels, and promises outstanding results on black walls, whitewalls and raised white letter tires. This product is nonacidic, non-caustic and biodegradable.

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Safe and Efficient Wheel Lift


March 2014 | BodyShop Business

»| Product Showcase |«

Affordable Auto-Darkening Helmet Mobile Downdraft Station The Duster 3000 Downdraft is a mobile station that allows techs to capture dust, paint overspray, odors and VOC gasses. It plugs into a common 110V circuit with a 50-foot cord and is mounted on skateboard wheels for easy mobility between stalls. Island Clean Air Circle 155 for Reader Service

The new Tweco auto-darkening welding helmet features four sensors for enhanced performance at an affordable price of $142. It can be used in both weld and grind mode and will darken when TIG welding even at 5 amps. The helmet has a large viewing area of 3.86-by-1.69 inches, weighs 16 oz. and uses solar power to eliminate the need to change batteries. Victor Technologies Circle 157 for Reader Service

Efficient Nitrogen Welding System The 6058-CG Nitro Pro nitrogen welding system simplifies operation by eliminating the need to switch between nitrogen and air during the welding process. Compressed air is coupled with the nitrogen generator, and a precision control regulator is combined with an output pressure gauge and flow gauge. Not only can the system repair plastic bumper covers, but also headlight housings, mounting tabs, grille bars, high-stress areas, flexible tabs and fender liners. Urethane Supply Company Circle 158 for Reader Service

Multi-Speed Tire Changer The R980ATF is equipped with a powerful variable speed motor and gear box that works systematically to match turntable rotational speed with varied tire and wheel combinations. Ergonomic controls are sensibly placed to minimize excessive reaching or bending. This model performs well on a wide variety of wheels, including virtually all OEM and performance tire and wheel configurations. Ranger/BendPak Circle 156 for Reader Service

Personal Breathing Unit The Personal Air Breathing Unit works with the existing filtered compressed air supply to provide Grade “D” Breathable Air for a proper NIOSH-approved respirator. The provided 54-inch tool air hose assembly will allow for a bypass of air for a paint spray gun. This 20 SCFM, complete belt mounted system allows for use with full hoods. Martech Services Company Circle 159 for Reader Service 89

Recon Master School of Dents


Paintless Dent Repair Training SEMA Show Discount Please call for information


MIG / TIG / PLASMA / SPOT * Fixed & Flex-Neck Torches * Tips / Nozzles / Caps / Diffusers Body Shop Inventory & Web Software by Rossknecht Software

A Windows® inventory system for Body Shops that also salvage vehicles or have new/used parts to sell – vehicle and parts inventory, invoicing, reports, instant sales totals, bar-code labels, digital pictures, electronic catalog of body parts. NEW: Put your inventory on your Website included. No monthly fees. $895 complete. Free Demo CD. phone 303-884-5315

* Wire / Rods / Tungsten * Helmets / Gloves / Safety Gear

The Body Shop Specialists Toll-Free 1-866-568-3170

WELDINGDIRECT.COM BodyShop Business Classified Help wanted • Business for sale • Equipment for sale • Software... and so much more! Call Tom Staab today at 330-670-1234 ext. 224

MarkiNgpeNdepot.coM Collision Shops, Towing, Auction Sites, Dealers, Recyclers, OEMs Tow Pro $2.50 Autowriter $3.50 Posca $3.50 Bopagla $2.00 Unipaint $3.86 MPD-15 $1.30 Volume Discounts! Call 888-906-9370 or online at 90

March 2014 | BodyShop Business

»| Classifieds |«

Quality Solutions for the Collision Industry

1.800.529.2640 W W W . K AY C O S P R AY B O O T H S . C O M

• Original Equipment Wheels In Stock • Limited Lifetime Guarantee • 1000s of Wheels In Stock • Affordable Prices

We ship from eight different locations: Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami

Alloy Wheel Remanufacturing Order your Wheels at: or 800-486-0931 91

Pay Scales For Technicians By Type


Concessions Granted By DRP Shops

$55,466 $50,000



Vital collision industry stats








By the

$45K 91%

Free Storage Guarantee Delivery Date


Discount Labor


Discount Parts


Don’t Charge For All Ops.




Free Rental Cars



Do Not Supplement


$25K 7%


$20K 0%





Metal Tech




Median means 50% of responses were above this answer and 50% were below.

Percentage Of Respondents Source: 2013 BodyShop Business Industry Profile

Source: 2013 BodyShop Business Industry Profile

Percentage Of Estimates Converted

Percentage Of Estimates Converted To Actual Jobs Over 90%

2% 13%



71%-80% 16%

61%-70% 7%

51%-60% 41%-50%





3% 8%

Up to20%









Percentage Of Shops Source: 2013 BodyShop Business Industry Profile


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BodyShop Business March 2014  
BodyShop Business March 2014  

BodyShop Business delivers shop management, ­marketing and technical information, as well as industry news and trends, to collision repair...