When I began writing on this industry, there were no DRPs and all of the cars still had carburetors in them (remember those good old days?). Over the years, I have seen body shops step up in almost every way.
Dave Ludwig, 58, owns Prestige Auto Body in Manchester, NH, a shop he started with just one helper back in 1986.
Tim Briggs, 44, and his wife, Ginger Briggs, are the owners of Collision Edge and the inventors of many products, including The Tape Thing, The Dent Viewer and The Estimating Kit.
La Feria, TX, native Victoria Ramirez has always loved working with cars, which is why she made the decision to enroll at Texas State Technical College in 2016.
“My family and friends are very supportive of me attending technical school and pursuing collision repair,” she said. “TSTC was the obvious choice since it’s close to home.”
Ramirez already had an automotive certificate that she earned from TSTC in the summer of 2014, but she wanted to expand her education even further.
“I decided I didn't want to only learn the mechanical side,” Ramirez said. “I wanted to know how to return vehicles to pre-accident condition.”
Ramirez added that she especially wanted to learn about refinishing.
“I think refinishing is a work of art, and I’ve always loved art,” she explained.
Ramirez said that painting comes naturally to her.
“I’ve really enjoyed learning how to airbrush color, how to use candy colors, and how to pin stripe,” she said.
Ramirez has also competed in the national SkillsUSA competition in Louisville, KY, where her team finished in sixth place.
“The SkillsUSA competition was challenging, but we put on our best show,” she said.
Ramirez is also a member of the auto body club at her TSTC.
“I’d like to thank my instructors, Mr. J. Vasquez and Mr. Cantu, for supporting me and showing me their knowledge of the auto collision industry,” Ramirez added. “My three sons, Julien, Moses and Matthew, are also a huge inspiration to me. They make me want to be better for them.”
Despite her dedication to the craft and support from family and instructors, Ramirez said she still faces a specific adversity in the field---a common theme at technical colleges across the country.
“Being a woman in a male-dominated industry has been very challenging,” Ramirez said. “Others think that because I’m a woman, I won’t be able to get the job done or that I don’t know what I’m doing.”
The Texas native said the area she’s from is particularly challenging in this regard, which is why she hopes to leave after graduation in August 2017.
“I plan to move to a bigger city like Houston or Las Vegas to try my luck out there in the industry and work my way to the top of whichever shop I’m hired at,” Ramirez said. “I feel that here in the Rio Grande Valley, there are no jobs for a lady. People say girls are supposed to be behind a desk and not out there getting their hands dirty with paint or grease.”
For more information on TSTC, visit tstc.edu.
When Jim Pfau talks to his customers at Alan’s Collision Center, he often asks if they are familiar with their vehicle insurance policy. The general manager of the Philadelphia, PA body shop said that since the average person does not have a clear understanding of their policy, he takes the time to explain the issues associated with the repair process, such as labor rates and parts usage.
Jamal Mills graduated from Central Louisiana Technical Community College in May 2017, and is already working fulltime at Select Motors Auto Restoration & Repair in Ball, LA.
More than 20 years ago, auto body shops routinely ordered individual paint colors from a paint distributor to repair vehicles.
On a typical day at Pacific Elite Collision Centers, Cortney Arthur might run through the shop’s production list, help write estimates, order parts or even detail cars. As the general manager of the company’s Downey East location in California, Arthur also spends time taking care of the insurance side of the business, keeping up with KPIs and ensuring the facility is compliant.
At Smith Bros Collision Center and Truck Accessories, brothers Chad and Adam Smith work hard to ensure every repair is a positive experience for their customers.
Bryan “BJ” Barger was an Air Force jet engine mechanic for a decade and was deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and Korea. Today, he is the owner of Son of a Fink Kustoms in Mountain Home, ID.
20 Years Ago in the Collision Repair Industry (August 1997)
A ban on the use of non-OEM parts on vehicles covered under warranty, and a call for insurers to share more information about their claims handling guidelines were among the issues debated by shop owners, association leaders and other participants at the National Leadership Conference held in August.
In early May, Allstate announced it will be dropping its drive-in inspection stations, instead directing customers to the photo estimating system available through its mobile app – citing that customers have embraced the technology, with many opting for the virtual experience.