Local news stories affecting the auto body industry in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin
The Northern Michigan Body Shop Association will hold its next meeting Oct. 26 at the Turtle Creek Convention Center in Traverse City, MI.
Guest speaker is Erica Eversmn, repair advocate attorney and chief counsel with Vehicle Information Services, Inc., who will speak on the topic of parts procurement.
The NMBSA annual meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. with an election of officers. Eversman will present at 7 p.m.
There is no cost to attend the annual membership meeting. Cost to attend the presentation by Erica Eversman is $25 per member or $45 for non-members. Mail registration and payment to NMBSA PO Box 207 Alpena, MI 49707. For more information, contact Sue Allor at (231) 833-0150.
The Micro Group was originally formed to focus on chrome plating car bumpers when Howard Hicks Sr. founded the business in 1948. Since then, it has expanded into several other areas of the collision distribution industry.
To view a pdf file of this article with photos, click HERE.
“A professional, yet friendly place to do business.”
This is the feeling that Paul Chrt wants to convey to his customers about his parts operation and dealership. Paul is the parts manager at Honda Superstore, in Lisle, IL. This dealer is a long-time fixture in the Chicago area – opening in 1977. Paul joined them shortly after, in 1979. Paul became the parts manager in 2000, and began to expand the wholesale business. Honda of America helped out with plans and training, but the greatest effort and amount of work, came from Paul and his team at Honda of Lisle. This dealer is now the number three wholesaler in the nation, for Honda, and it is still growing. More and more auto body shops in the Chicago area are using Honda of Lisle, and there is a very good reason why: They know they are getting the best service available; from a dealer who cares.
We talked about the changes in the parts industry, and the need/opportunity to adapt to new and innovative ideas. Paul uses both OPSTRAX and CollisionLink by OEConnection to receive orders directly from his customers. There has been a steady increase of these orders, which are placed directly by his customers using electronic ordering programs. This method seems to work very well – it is accurate and quick. The fax system is still used by some, and of course the telephone will always be used by those who prefer a more personal touch. However you place your order, it will be filled by a crew of 17, and delivered via a fleet of 14 parts trucks! The delivery system Paul uses is shared with Volvo and Infiniti; their trucks servicing Chicago and the surrounding suburbs at least twice each day.
Again and again, I find that a successful wholesale parts operation is built on a solid foundation of service. Paul’s foundation is the idea of service to the “real” customer; the car owner. He wants his wholesale customers to know that every individual order is important, because that order represents the customer; and that every order needs to be filled in its entirety, in order to complete the repair on time. Paul has over a million dollars worth of inventory, and Honda of America helps with that, providing parts daily, and shipping overnight, when necessary. This kind of service assures that the repairs are completed on time – creating the “completely satisfied” customer that we all desire.
A successful body shop operation depends on repeat and referral business. That means a happy customer who is impressed with the speed and quality of their repair. A timely delivery of all of the parts which are needed is a key factor in that goal. The body shop needs to know that their parts supplier is reliable, capable, and professional. These are the characteristics of an Autobody News Distinctive Dealership, and Honda of Lisle is obviously a member of this group. Paul Chrt says he has an excellent group of people, working together, in order to get the job done. I agree, he has a great team – all dedicated to providing the finest service possible – they are the essence of the word “professionals.”
Honda Superstore of Lisle, 4475 Lincoln Avenue, Lisle, Illinois 60532. Paul Chrt, Parts Manager. Phone: 630-852-7200.
The owner of a mechanical repair shop in Milwaukee, WI will serve a maximum seven years in prison for shooting a customer in the leg.
Anthony Wayne Smith is the owner of four companies, including Precision Custom Car Care and Unique Custom Car Care.
Surveillance video confirms Smith fired a single shot into a customer’s leg following a verbal altercation.
“I was aiming at the floor to scare the guy. I didn’t know he was shot until the next day when my lawyer called me because I locked the door. He was walking away, so I figured he was okay. He was leaving the building and the customers were safe. I didn’t know I shot him,” Smith said.
While Smith serves time, his wife, Allison, will run their four businesses.
A $50,000 grant would go a long way for the Collision Repair program at the Warren County Career Center in Lebanon, OH.
The Collision Repair Education Foundation offers a $50,000 Ultimate Collision Education Makeover Grant to “honor a school that has been doing an outstanding job in educating students in collision repair, but needs some financial assistance to improve their program’s teaching materials and equipment,” according to the foundation.
Items covered by the grant could include a resistance welder, air compressor as well as wrenches, screwdrivers and other tools.
A Michigan car dealership owner will turn over his business to new owners later this month, but there was something he had to do first.
As he transitions into retirement, Howard Cooper wanted to thank his employees, so he surprised them with ‘thank you’ checks. He gave all 89 employees $1,000 for every year they worked at the Howard Cooper Import Center in Ann Arbor, located on South State Street north of Eisenhower Parkway.
Cooper said he hopes “it makes a difference in their lives like they have made in mine.”
Cooper, 83, sold his dealership in April to Ohio-based Germain Motor Company. Details on the transaction haven’t been available.
The Ohio-based Choice Autobody Repair Association (CARA) has partnered with Collision Billing Services, a company designed to assist collision repairers in getting full payment from insurers on behalf of their customers.
“This seemed like the perfect fit for CARA,” said CARA President Rick Finney. “Given the restraints that are put on us as an association by anti-trust legislation, our partnership with CBS will allow us to accomplish our long-term goals in a short amount of time. The key is that CBS is not bound by the same restraints shop owners are.”
A widowed, single mother from Wheeler, IL, won a red 1999 Chrysler Town and Country from Probst Auto Body of Dieterich, IL, as part of a national program called Wheels to Prosper.
“Getting that car lifted a huge financial burden,” Debra Whitehurst said. “It truly was the answer to my prayers.”
A Galesburg, IL, body shop owner recently installed an electric vehicle charging station that he says customers and local residents can use. The station is one way to go green, and also get more people into his shop.
Dave’s Auto Body owner Dave Dunn is offering service to anyone who needs to charge their vehicle, but especially to those who might need work done there, too.
“Primarily, I see it as a marketing tool for Galesburg and also for our company, Dave’s Auto Body,” Dunn said.
Another need for the charging station is due to the Nissan Leaf in their rental fleet.
“It’s stunning,” Dunn said. “I had a lot of people who were pretty hesitant or skeptical here at Dave’s. Now, people are kind of fighting for it. ‘Hey, can I drive the electric car to go do this errand?’ It’s really fun to drive, and it’s quite luxurious, surprisingly.”
There are no other electric vehicle charging stations in the immediate area, which had local tourism officials expressing interest in Dave Dunn’s efforts, too.
Russ Darrow KIA of Appleton, WI, announced that it has moved to a new location and renovated its facility, which includes an in-house, state-of-the-art collision repair shop.
The body shop will feature a heated downdraft paint booth, prep stations and use DuPont waterborne paint. It will be capable of repairing up to 10 vehicles at once, and “Signature Service” will feature free loaner cars, insurance claims service and a lifetime workmanship warranty.
The Automotive Service Association of Ohio (ASA-Ohio) hosted two meetings to discuss State Farm’s parts procurement pilot through PartsTrader. The meetings were led by Denise Caspersen, collision division manager for ASA National. Joe Sanfillipo, president of ASA-Ohio, and Ron Nagy, chairman of ASA National, were also present. The first meeting, sponsored by LKQ/Keystone, was held Sept. 18 in Cleveland. The second meeting, sponsored by Lindale Auto Parts, was held Sept. 19 in Cincinnati.
ASA Michigan hosted on Sept. 5 an exclusive collision member webinar titled Where’s the Work?—Identifying Market Changes from 2007–2011.
“A couple of months ago we hosted a very informative meeting about the State Farm PartsTrader pilot program and realized that an important piece of information was missing for our members—market share and complaint ratios of the various insurance companies here in Michigan,” stated Ray Fisher, President of ASA Michigan.
“As this new business model is being piloted, we knew that State Farm was the largest insurer in Michigan for auto insurance, but we could not inform our membership exactly by what volume nor did we know where the other carriers have placed, so we immediately worked with reports from the State of Michigan, Office of Finance and Insurance Regulations (OFIR) and created this very informative and well received webinar addressing those questions,” Fisher said.
by David M. Brown
In Ohio collision-repair facilities and vendors are represented by two associations: the Choice Autobody Repair Association and ASA-Ohio.
In 2005, CARA, a nonprofit collision repair association, was formed in Cadiz in eastern Ohio. CARA represents approximately 50 body shops in various cities throughout the state. Members include former members from the disbanded Ohio Collision Repair Association and the Ohio Bodyshop Owners Association.
“There were five shop owners who felt it was necessary to help educate consumers on their rights concerning collision repairs, which led to the formation of CARA,” says Rick Finney, president of the association and owner of Finney Automotive Inc. and Finney Tire LLC, both in Cadiz.
A longtime Bloomington, IL, auto body shop has broken ground on a new $1 million facility.
Bob Zook Auto Body expects to move into its new facility at 411 Detroit Drive, Bloomington, by April, said company President Bryan Caldwell. Business will continue at its current location, 413 E. Stewart St., Bloomington, until the new building is complete.
“We are excited by the growth and opportunities the new facility will bring,” said Caldwell, who has worked for the company for nearly three decades.
The new 12,750-square-foot building, next to the Palace Cinemas, will allow the shop to expand its services. A new mechanical department will handle suspension and wheel repairs and alignments related to collisions, said Caldwell.