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In the blink of an eye, it was all over but the shouting. With the ink barely dry on a letter of intent from Caliber Collision Centers to purchase 27 shops from the financially troubled M2 Collision Care Centers, the deal was dead. According to Caliber Vice President John Walcher, as the due diligence began, it became apparent that the deal would not be consummated and Caliber pulled out. At press time, unconfirmed reports indicated that Caliber had not purchased a single M2 shop, but was negotiating on the large, still unsold Santa Monica location. 

In a strong show of support for career and technical education, the Senate voted 99-0 to approve Senate Bill 250, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2005.

Here's your assignment: Pretend you have 45 seconds to talk about your business in front a group of people you'd love to have as customers. Could you tell them something that's unique about your business, something that no other shop in your area could or is likely to tell them? 

The multi-association task force created to address repairer concerns about how the estimating database companies operate reported on its early progress in April and defended its decision to include insurers in the process. 

A bill introduced in the California State Senate that was called "extremely bad for the collision repair industry" by the California Autobody Association (CAA) was effectively gutted in the insurance committee before being passed and sent to the full senate. 

With the growing number of insurance company direct repair programs - and with many insurers processing an increasing percentage of their claims through such programs - it's easy to understand why some states are looking to put the brakes on "steering" of work by insurers. 

Calling it "a piece of legislation as 'American as apple pie,' and one that is vital to motoring consumers and the five million plus Americans working in the automotive aftermarket," David Parde, the president of the Coalition for Auto Repair Equality, applauded U.S. Representatives Joe Barton (R-TX) and Edolphus Towns (D-NY) for re-introducing H.R. 2048: The Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act in the 109th Congress. 

The carcass of M2 Collision Centers, until last month the second largest collision repair chain in California and one of the largest in the country, has been thoroughly picked over. The assets of 26 M2 shops were sold as of May 31, with only the Van Nuys location's equipment remaining to be sold piecemeal when the dust had settled. 

The California Autobody Association (CAA) met with Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi early in August to discuss the enforcement of SB 551 (Anti-Steering Law) and the labor rate surveys that the Department of Insurance (DOI) have been receiving from insurance companies pursuant to Labor Rate Survey Insurance Code 758(c). 

Although the percentage of dealerships with body shops has declined over the past 30 years, a growing number of automakers are working to help dealership shops gain market share. How successful they will be remains to be seen, but independent shop owners would be foolish to ignore the threat - or possibly the opportunity - these efforts may offer.