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Southeastern News

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

A heavy snow storm passed through northern Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia January 5 through 7, originating in Arkansas. The snow storm brought heavy snow, blanketing the region in 4 to 10 inches in some areas.

State Rep. Steve Horne, R-81, has introduced House Bill 151, which repeals the Mississippi annual safety inspection of motor vehicles program.

MS H.B. 151 includes additional language on the tinting of windows.

Mississippi has an annual decentralized safety inspection program. Less than half the states in the United States have safety inspection programs despite studies in Pennsylvania and Missouri that have indicated the value of safety inspection programs in reducing accidents, injuries and deaths. The federal government has not shown interest in promoting state safety inspection programs or in evaluating their value in reducing accidents, injuries and deaths.

If the bill becomes law, it will take effect July 11, 2011. The Automotive Service Association (ASA) opposes MS H.B. 151.
ASA encourages independent repairers to go to the ASA legislative website,, to review the Mississippi legislation.

The Executive Board of Directors of the Florida Autobody Collision Alliance announced that it has appointed Cathy Mills its first Executive Director. Mills will assume the responsibilities of the position on January 1, 2011.

Ford Motor Co. is hiring 1,800 workers and spending $600 million to overhaul a factory in Louisville, Kentucky, to build small sport utility vehicles according to reports made by Bloomberg News.

The factory, which now produces the midsize Ford Explorer SUV, will begin building a redesigned version of the Escape compact utility vehicle late next year, Marcey Evans, a Ford spokeswoman, said in an interview. At that time, the plant will begin operating two shifts and employing 2,900 workers, up from one shift and 1,100 workers currently, she said.

Ford is transforming the Louisville plant into its most flexible factory, capable of producing small cars, SUVs and wagons.

Such flexibility is typical of Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. plants. Ford also plans to build a small Lincoln SUV in Louisville starting in 2012.

With the help of The Impact! Group, Sports & Imports Collision, a member of the Georgia Collision Industry Association (GCIA), delivered an Oldsmobile Intrigue to The Jeremy Burse Family in a ceremony at 3400 McDaniel Rd., Duluth, Ga.

DUI arrests have skyrocketed in Mississippi in the past several years, helping lead to the lowest number of drunken driving deaths in decades according to reports made by Insurance Journal.

It’s welcome news for a state that has ranked among the nation’s worst in per capita alcohol-related deaths. Projections estimate drunken driving deaths in 2010 in Mississippi will be about 232 — far below the 384 tallied in 2007.

The drop coincides with the state seeing more than 32,000 DUI arrests for the second year in a row, far more than the 22,511 several years ago.

Mississippi Highway Patrol officials attribute the rise in DUI arrests to local and county agencies across the state getting more involved.

“Here are things we know we can prevent through enforcement and stiff penalties,” said Hinds County Sheriff Malcolm McMillin. “It’s a deterrent.”

The recent deaths of four Jefferson County teenagers in three wrecks reinforced what safety experts said they already knew — Alabama is a dangerous place for young drivers.

According to reports made by the Birmingham News, a 2008 study by Allstate Insurance ranked the state the second most dangerous in the country for teen drivers, just behind Mississippi. Of the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas, the Birmingham- Hoover area was the fifth deadliest for those drivers, the study showed.

That same year, 8.8 percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes in Alabama were age 19 or under and 22 percent were younger than 25, according to the 2008 Alabama Traffic Crash Facts published by the University of Alabama’s Center for Advanced Public Safety.

PPG’s Business Solutions Group led the instruction of its MVP Green Belt Training for a class of 12 Toyota collision center managers in the southeast region, November 8-11. Hosted by Southeast Toyota Distributors, LLC, the training was held at its Vehicle Processing Center in Jacksonville, Fla. Southeast Toyota is the world’s largest independent distributor of Toyota and Scion vehicles.


PPG’s MVP Green Belt Training is a comprehensive 4-day program focusing on the practical application of Lean Six Sigma principles to collision repair. The curriculum is designed to provide an effective balance between teaching the proven science and principles of continuous improvement and providing practical solutions in the collision center environment, all geared to drive simultaneous improvement in cycle time, quality and cost. The course covered such topics as X-Ray Repair Planning™, process design and implementation, 5S and workplace organization, and resources a collision center can draw upon to further continuous process improvement.

Walker County, AL, has steered a Toyota supplier plant into its industrial park. The mostly rural county is banking on more than 400 acres near the future Interstate 22 to boost its economic development profile and its fortunes, according to the Birmingham News.

Inside an industrial building at Bevill Industrial Park, workers for Birmingham’s Gray Construction are moving to complete work on what will be home to Amtex, a subsidiary of the giant Japanese automotive supplier Hayashi Telempu.

Amtex is investing $12.8 million to finish the building and install equipment to produce carpeting and interior trim for the Corolla cars that Toyota will build at its new plant near Tupelo, MS. Both the Amtex and Toyota plants are scheduled to open in 2011.

David Knight, executive director of the Walker County Development Authority, said the plant will have up to 45 jobs when it opens and could grow to 60 within a few months. More growth is possible if the company wins work with other automakers, which it is pursuing, he said.

New jobs related to Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi are growing steadily in number and impact in Northeast Mississippi, even though production of the best-selling Corolla sedans won’t start until about this time in 2011 at the TMMMS assembly plant near Blue Springs in Union County, according to the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal.

TMMMS officials announced that all major internal construction work at the Wellspring site campus has been completed, and that new hires every week (including contract construction of a railroad marshaling yard and other external elements) are building steadily toward a 1,400-1,500 employee pre-production work force on site by March 2011.