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1HomePageMap small se 0816Local news stories affecting the auto body industry in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and West Virginia

Drivers in Florida and Georgia will be able to start ordering the new Nissan Leaf electric car on July 25— but only if they were among the 20,000 who made $99 deposits during a fall online reservation period, according to reports made by the Florida Times-Union.

Nissan has sold 4,000 of the all-electric sedans since February in its first market phase in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington State.

Now the ordering process opens to consumers with reservations in North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Washington DC, Virginia, Maryland, South Carolina and Alabama.

The Leaf is an all-electric car with 48 lithium-ion battery modules, giving it an estimated 100-mile range.

The Florida Auto Collision Alliance's (FACA) Jacksonville Chapter held their 13th annual golf outing at Fleming Island Golf Course on May 26. The event was a huge winner for the group and another opportunity for owners, managers, support staff, insurance adjusters and vendors to build new relationships and rekindle old ones.

FACA’s generous vendors were particularly noteworthy participants and stocked the entire course with the very best food and drink.
FACA did an outstanding job with prize giveaways and ensured everything ran smoothly. The tee time was only delayed by 15 minutes—-not bad when you consider that more than 150 golfers had to be checked in and assigned golf carts before putting could begin. A big surprise was ex-NFL player Jeff Lageman defending the 16th hole, challenging all that came through to raise money for charity.

In the end, all went well and everyone had a great time and is looking forward to next year’s event. FACA issued a big thank you to Steve Carey, Cathy Mills and Dave McBroom for all their efforts.

For more information please visit

The Broward County (Florida) Board of County Commissioners presented the Emerald Award to Uniweld Products Inc., designating the company as Broward County's Environmental Business of the Year for 2010.

Uniweld Products, a U.S. manufacturing company, is headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Established in 1949 on farmland in the Dania Beach area, the company has grown and expanded into one of the major manufacturers in the welding, HVAC/R (Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration), plumbing, and alloys markets.

The Award commends Uniweld for its continuing adherence to strict environmental friendly business practices and green initiatives. David Pearl II, Uniweld's president, accepted the award on Tuesday, April 12th, 2011.

Sikes & Stowe Downtown Collision, the oldest independent, family-owned body shop in downtown Jacksonville, is currently celebrating its 85th anniversary.

Founder John E. Sikes Sr. started the business in 1926, his son John E. Sikes Jr. took over in the 1960s until his death in 1999 and grandson, John E. “Bud” Sikes III is the current owner.

The owners have always credited their loyal customer base throughout the years for their longevity of success, and are, as always, committed to the growth and development of downtown Jacksonville.

For more information please visit

The Georgia Collision Industry Association (GCIA) July meeting was held on July 14th at the Crowne Plaza Perimeter Atlanta NW.

Patrick Delaney from Summit Consulting International was the night's guest presenter. The presentation centered on how to improve performance in your collision shop.

Delaney’s presentation covered how to measurably improve the processes that impact the most vital areas of your business—profitability and customer loyalty.

Delaney spoke about Production Management Foundations, Measuring in Order to Manage and Making an Impact. He also discussed how to set up production controls to address the following four areas; customer interaction, managing repairs, production processes, and administrative processes.

He explained the impact each area has on the production process and how these area can affect the repair planning process.  Summit Consulting has a computer program to help shops with their production management.

Refreshments and food began at 6:30 pm.

The group also discussed the upcoming 15th Annual GCIA Golf tournament and the Property and Casualty Insurance Stakeholder Advisory committee meeting scheduled for Wednesday, August 10th at 1:30PM in Atlanta (Location yet to be determined).

Please visit for more information about Summit Consulting International. Visit for updates on the GCIA.

According to the legal team for Gunder’s Auto Center in their well-known battle with State Farm Insurance, limited documentation surrendered by State Farm in response to a court’s discovery order revealed the results of the insurer’s infamous labor rate survey have been altered.

While the nation’s largest private auto insurer has not provided all the information demanded in the court’s order; the information they did provide is seen by many as the proverbial “smoking gun” and a strong indicator of an even more pervasive nationwide practice.

In review of surrendered documents it was found that response to State Farm’s labor rate survey submitted by Gunder’s Auto Center, along with other local competitors, had been altered by State Farm’s Estimatics Team Manager, Robert “Bob” Davis in an apparent effort to skew the results to best serve the insurer by lowering rates and allowances.

Ray Gunder states: “I am confident this is not an isolated instance and that this is the likely the reason they have failed to supply us all the surveys and other information as ordered by the court. For years, across the entire country, monies have been withheld from repairers under the guise of the so-called survey and “Prevailing Competitive Pricing” by State Farm and all those insurers who follow their lead. Such deceit and unethical business practices have earned State Farm many Billions of dollars in unjust profits. Billions that the consumer never received benefit of through proper and thorough repairs.”

Wednesday, 06 July 2011 15:33

Kia Hires 1,000 New Employees for US Plant

Kia Motors America is ramping up its U.S. production at the manufacturer’s West Point, Georgia, plant. The plant will increase output from the current 300,000 vehicles per year to 360,000 beginning this September.

In a public statement made June 2 President and CEO of Kia Motors America, Ahn Byung-mo, said, "Kia is experiencing unprecedented growth in the U.S., led by the best-selling Sorento. And with demand for the critically acclaimed Optima currently outpacing supply we are proud to add the popular sedan as the second Kia vehicle on the production line."

In anticipation of the increase, Kia has just hired 1,000 new U.S. worker. Byung-mo hopes this expansion will keep up with the high demand for Kia’s Optima sedan and Sorento SUV, best-sellers for the brand. Kia’s Georgia plant will begin producing both models exclusively.

In April of this year Gunder’s Auto Center received notice whereas the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit upheld a lower court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of State Farm Insurance in Gunder’s claim of slander and tortious interference with a business relationship against the nation’s largest personal auto insurer.

Ray Gunder stated; “after considerable thought, counsel and discussion with family and close friends, and as a result of recent activities on other pending cases against State Farm I decided to proceed with submitting what is referred to as a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court requesting their review and opinion of the lower court’s ruling. As we continue to ‘pound that rock’ I see we are standing on a substantial amount of gravel… and as I’ve said before, we’re all-in and we’re too close to quit now and will continue until we either prevail or exhaust all opportunities to do so!"

A copy of the court’s prior ruling may be found at:

This week, a prior Collision Industry Legal Fund contributor sent yet another check for another $2,500 aimed at assisting body shop owner Ray Gunder in his ongoing battle with State Farm Insurance Company. The donation came with a simple note:
“Ray, Thank you for everything you do! You’re the BEST!”

The Collision Industry Fund was established last year to provide financial assistance to Gunder’s Auto Center in Lakeland, Fla., which has been involved in a lawsuit against State Farm for slander and tortious interference, as well as the failure to pay for certain repair procedures. “This mirrors this same contributor’s record donation they provided last year! We remain extremely grateful and thankful for the donation and support” stated Ray Gunder. I’m thankful for all the financial support we’ve received from people we don’t even know from across the country. I’m humbled at the support we’ve received and encouraged to continue on with our efforts to level the playing field.

According to Barrett Smith with Auto Damage Experts; “This fight isn’t just about Gunder’s and our customers, or just about State Farm; it’s about repairers and their customers across the country that face the same issues of abuse daily from many insurers. State Farm has and continues to stall and delay and outspend us but so far, and by the grace of God, we have reached a point I believe will come to a positive outcome sooner than later."

To mail a donation to the fund, make the check out to "The Collision Industry Legal Fund" and send to: Brent Geohagan, Attorney at Law, 3001 Bartow Rd., Lakeland, FL 33803.

Crossroads Chevrolet-Cadillac in Joplin, MO, served as as a collection point for community donations of clothing, food, water and other supplies for those hit hard by the May 22 tornado.

A cluster of General Motors franchise dealers in and near Joplin recently weathered quite a storm and are continuing to pick up the pieces and do the best they can to support their local community in healng. The dealers also recently broke out their checkbooks and more to help the community recover from the single deadliest tornado in national history.

Crossroads Chevrolet-Cadillac was spared by the killer twister, but the automaker said the storm’s wicked winds touched the lives of “nearly everyone working there.”

Dealership owner Dan Auffenberg explained on the Faces of GM blog that on the day after the tornado struck May 22, nine or 10 employees showed up for work. Aufffenberg immediately recognized the severity of the situation and sent them home, saying, “You don’t need to be here. You need to be home helping your families,” according to Auto Remarketing News.

As of that point, five employees of Crossroads had lost their homes to the storm, and the service manager’s wife had lost her mother.