Some speakers are so popular that a spacious venue is required to accommodate the size of the audience. Such was the case at the SEMA Show, when world-renowned custom vehicle refinisher Charley Hutton gave an exclusive interview and fielded audience questions on the "big stage" of the SEMA North Hall. The event was part of the Repairer Driven Education (RDE) series sponsored by the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) and RDE supporter PPG Automotive Refinish, and filled all available seats leaving standing room only.
The session with Hutton, which took place on Wednesday afternoon, November 2, is another example of the fresh content tailored to the needs and interests of collision repairers that SCRS is making available through RDE. A custom auto refinisher who has regularly appeared on television shows such as American Hot Rod, Rides, and Overhaulin', Hutton has also built a large Internet following thanks to a number of informational videos featuring his eye-catching, always spectacular work.
Despite his celebrity, Hutton has clearly retained his humility and gracious personality which came through in the interview. In fact, Hutton's own collision repair background was a foundation for much of his success, a point he emphasized during his conversation with SCRS Executive Director Aaron Schulenburg in front of a large group of custom refinishing enthusiasts.
"My passion is to build show cars and I'm able to do it because I can capitalize on my experience and ability as a collision repairer," Hutton said. "Though my work has gained a high degree of visibility, I'm just a small town Idaho boy at heart. Collision repairers are car people, no matter who they are. It's something special we all share."
Hutton, who in 2009 opened Charley Hutton's Color Studio, a new facility in Nampa Idaho, has built his success in part by taking advantage of opportunities when they were presented to him. He was quick to emphasize, however, that his accomplishments would not have been possible without the solid foundation of training he received, including the time he spent working for custom car legend Boyd Coddington, an era partly chronicled on the Learning/Discovery Channel show, American Hot Rod.
"One of the best things about the TV show was that it opened up opportunities to teach and allowed me to discover how much I liked to do it, "Hutton revealed. "Quality mentoring has been very important to my career, and it's fulfilling to be able to mentor and inspire others. It's a chance to help change someone's life in a small way, so they can go on and make more positive changes on their own-especially young people starting out who sometimes find it hard to get opportunities to hone their craft. This is especially true in the world of custom cars."
Because he is an advocate of collision repair training, it is probably no surprise that Hutton is enthusiastic about what the SEMA show and RDE offer. "This is a great opportunity to gain exposure to new techniques and actually talk to technical trainers and ask them questions on a wide range of topics," Hutton said. "You never stop learning because changes keep coming to the industry. These programs fulfill a great need and I'm glad to be able to contribute."
Hutton cited his experience with waterborne paint as an example of the value of training as it applies to new technologies. A user of PPG's waterborne products, including the company's Envirobase® High Performance coatings line, he shared with the audience how his adjustment to the new technology was made easier with the advice and tools PPG provided.
"Most of us are slow to embrace new systems, and at first that's the way I felt about waterborne," Hutton explained. "But the technical advice I received from PPG made my transition much easier. For example, I learned what spraying techniques to use to ensure the kind of efficient coverage that maximizes waterborne's cost-effectiveness. Having the right partner makes all the difference in the world when it comes to product selection and application."
"Charley really provided the audience a dynamic educational experience," stated Schulenburg. "His craftsmanship and unique perspective proved a perfect complement to our RDE series, as SCRS and our RDE supporters such as PPG Automotive Refinish endeavor to provide content that is not only entertaining, but practical enough to be put to use when a collision repair professional gets back to the shop."