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Southwestern News

1HomePageMap small sw 0816Local news stories affecting the auto body industry in Arizona, Utah, Arkansas, ColoradoTexas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Louisiana

The Oklahoma Auto Body Association may have started as a fellowship group five years ago, but today it is spending its time fighting for the rights of its collision-industry members.

“The ‘same six guys’ have always gotten together through the last 25 years and put together some sort of affiliation,” says Jeff Leatherock, President of OKABA and Owner of Hammer & Dolly Body Shop in Oklahoma City, OK. “This is the latest—and the best.”

In addition to Leatherock, these founders are Gary Wano Jr., owner of G W and Son Auto Body, Oklahoma City; Brian Shellem, Advanced Automotive Equipment and Prestige Automotive Refinishes, Oklahoma City; Chris Donnelley, Body Works, Oklahoma City; Doug Reinhardt, Car Craft Auto Body, Oklahoma City; and Mickey and Shannon Varner, Jay’s Body Shop, in El Reno, about 20 miles outside Oklahoma City off Interstate 40.

Prior to OKABA, a number of associations served the Oklahoma collision industry, including an ASA chapter and the Fellowship of Concerned Repairers of Oklahoma, or FOCRO, Leatherock says. Tulsa also has a loose fellowship, he adds.
“I believe the association can bring a united voice as well as a conduit of communication among shops, insurers, legislators, vendors, and anyone else involved in the collision industry,” says Shellem, an OKABA boardmember since 2006. His Advanced Automotive Equipment is one of the largest Celette dealers in the country, he says, and supplies a full range of equipment to the collision industry, primarily in Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas. Prestige provides automotive finishes to Oklahoma City shops.

Thursday, 08 July 2010 18:44

Heartland Automotive to move HQ to Dallas

Heartland Automotive Services Inc., the largest franchisee of Jiffy Lube, said it will move its corporate offices to Dallas by the end of 2010.

The company, which operates about 400 auto servicing centers under the Jiffy Lube name, said it chose the Dallas location because of its proximity to the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.

Heartland Automotive Services said that all corporate office staff will be able to stay with the company if they relocate from the current headquarters in Omaha. The company will still operate a division office in Omaha.

The move is expected to begin late summer or early fall and be completed by year-end.

Mark Croucher, an insurance agency owner in Jenks, Okla., has announced his candidacy for the office of state insurance commissioner.

Croucher, who specializes in health, life and senior oriented insurance products, began his career in the insurance industry in 1997. He has been an independent insurance agent since 2004, and established The W.H.Y. (We Help You…that's WHY!) Insurance Agency LLC in 2007.

Croucher, a Republican, said his understanding of health insurance, and concern for his fellow Oklahomans during these tough times, led to his decision to enter the race for Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner.

Croucher has worked with and trained agents throughout Oklahoma. The agency works with clients from all over the state.

According to reports by the Associated Press, General Motors Co. said June 17 that it will keep most of its U.S. factories, including the Arlington Assembly Plant, open through the normal two-week summer shutdown to meet demand for some of its vehicles.

The automaker will keep nine of 11 assembly plants open to make 56,000 more vehicles that are in high demand, such as the Buick LaCrosse luxury sedan and the Chevrolet Traverse large crossover vehicle.

GM said in a statement that the company is trying to reduce waiting time for dealers and customers to get vehicles.

In addition to Arlington, plants that will stay open from June 28 to July 9 are located in Bowling Green, Ky.; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Hamtramck, Mich., Kansas City, Kan.; Flint, Mich.; Delta Township, Mich.; Lansing, Mich.; and Wentzville, Mo.

Automakers have traditionally shut down plants for short periods during the summer while switching production of model years and to manage vacation time for workers.

Dime-sized hail dents to vehicles in the Clovis, NM, area on June 12 brought a truckload of work for insurance companies and body shops.

George Songer, owner of Rembrandt’s Auto Body Shop in Clovis, said he received 256 claims in just one day on June 16.

“We’re so busy we can’t get to our collision repair we already have in,” Songer said. Songer also said he saw a lot of dime to egg-sized dents and mostly broken sunroofs, rather than broken windshields, thanks to the spring storm. He estimates that some cars coming in may also be totals.

Chuck Jones, a forecaster for the National Weather Service, said the storm dropped .62 inches of rain in Portales, making it the fifth wettest June 12 on record. An exact rain amount for Clovis was not available, but Jones said the storm most likely dropped “well over an inch” of rain. The storm brought snow-like hail that blanketed the streets, which made for dangerous driving conditions over the weekend.

The hail damage is so widespread Songer said he can’t keep up with the number of claims coming into his direct-repair shop. Songer said he has been writing a lot of estimates and is even glad to lose some of the jobs to insurance companies’ DRPs because they’re so swamped.

Louisania Gov. Bobby Jindal signed a law in week of June 14 that will allow vehicle mechanical breakdown insurers to provide customers with specific vehicle component coverage contracts for several items, including windshield-specific coverage, for road hazards.

Under the terms of the law, mechanical breakdown insurers can now provide windshield-specific contracts to their customers, and that contract would “promise to pay for all or part of the cost of the repair or of the replacement of windshield or window glass on a motor vehicle when the damage to the glass is caused by contact with a road hazard.” The law, which has already taken effect, says the term “road hazard” includes items such as potholes, rocks, curbs, wood debris, other debris, nails, screws, bolts, metal parts or glass, but not damage caused by a collision with another vehicle, vandalism or other causes “usually covered under the comprehensive or collision coverages.”

Gullo Toyota of Conroe, Texas, has been named the Toyota Certified Collision Center of the Year. The Toyota Motor Sales, USA award is based on meeting Toyota’s highest standards for customer service and rigid criteria for productivity in numerous key areas of the collision business.

“We were a top four finisher last year, so we did some things differently from 2008 to 2009. In particular, we concentrated on the little things - keeping the customers regularly informed and having three sign-offs when filling out quality control checklists on finished vehicles to ensure better quality. While these and other things seem simple enough, it's easy to veer away from them when faced with the demands of everyday work,” said Michael Cortez, collision center manager for Gullo Toyota. “We did not accomplish this on our own. I would like to thank Tony Gullo Jr. and family, Travis Rice with Gulf States Toyota, Dave Pyle with Toyota Motor Sales, USA, and Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes (SWAF) for all their support through the years.”

Larry Mooney, area sales manager for SWAF noted that it is a great privilege to support the Gullo Dealership network. He added that this is the fourth time in the last five years that one of Sherwin-Williams’ customers has been the recipient of this award.

Caliber Collision Centers, an operator of collision repair facilities in California and Texas, has announced the acquisition of Collision Correction located in Houston.

Collision Correction, comprised of two state of the art repair centers, was founded in 1998 by owner/operator Terral Hill. The Woodlands Center, a 25,000 square foot facility, is located off of Kuykendahl Rd.

“This center is strategically located relative to our existing centers in the Houston market to provide additional coverage for our carriers. This is an excellent acquisition and a natural fit for Caliber as we execute our mission of being the collision repair center provider of choice in every community we serve,” said Steve Grimshaw, CEO of Caliber Collision Centers.

The second location is Caliber Collision Centers– Spring, a 26,500 square foot facility located off of I-45 and Louetta Road.

Irving police on May 27 asked North Texas auto body shops to be on the lookout for a car that investigators believe was damaged in a hit-and-run crash last week that killed a U.S. Marine on Texas 183.

Car parts recovered at the scene indicated that the Mazda Tribute sustained damage to the right side of the vehicle, Irving police said.

Investigators believe that someone has repaired it or will need an estimate on the repair.

Authorities are asking repair shop employees to call Irving police if they have any information on the car which could be white or silver.

Police also said that other witnesses were at the scene who have not come forward to make reports. Irving police appealed for those people to call.

On May 19, Evan Sanchey, 23, of Yakima, Wash. was struck and killed about 5:50 a.m. in the 4400 block of Texas 183 at the Esters Road exit ramp in Irving.

Sanchey had recently flown into Dallas/Fort Worth Airport from duty in Afghanistan and was at the airport awaiting connecting flight home, Irving police said.

Sanchey was hit by the Mazda Tribute as he crossed the freeway, Irving police said.

The car slowed down briefly, but drove away eastbound on Texas 183, Irving police said.

Anyone with information should call Irving police at 972-273-1010 or 972-721-2761.

Caddo Career & Technology Center, a vocational high school in Shreveport, LA, was named the Tomorrow’s Technician/Chicago Pneumatic 2010 School of the Year.


Students’ training begins outside the classroom, where instructor Mike Falkner and other instructors greet them at the door with a firm handshake and a good morning. Shirts must be tucked in, name tags must be visible and they’re reminded to look people in the eye when they speak.

“We run our class just as though they were going to work,” said Gary Weese, who with Falkner teaches students about everything under a car from bumper to bumper.

On hand to present the award and tools to the school were representatives from Tomorrow’s Technician, program sponsors Chicago Pneumatic and WIX Filters and custom hot-rod designer, builder and painter Rich Evans of Huntington Beach Bodyworks.        
More than 300 applications from secondary and community colleges were submitted for the contest, which recognizes the top automotive technical schools and instructors throughout the country. This was the first time a high school has won the award.

Stevens said the selection committee received a four-inch binder full of heartfelt recommendations from students, teachers, parents and community members about the school’s program. Student-teacher ratio, graduation rates and awards and recognitions also were considered.