Autobody News spoke with David Osburn “Ozzy”, the collision center manager at SouthWest Auto Group in Hudson Oaks, Texas west of Fort Worth. The dealership has four car lines: Southwest Ford, Southwest Mitsubishi, Southwest Nissan and Southwest Volkswagen. Prior to joining SouthWest Auto Group in April 2015, Osburn worked as the collision center manager at Classic Auto Group for 23 years.
Q. What OEM certifications does your dealership have and what does the process entail?
A. We are currently certified with Ford, GM, Nissan and Volkswagen -- VW being a tough one to get. I am currently looking at requirements to become certified with Honda, Chrysler and Hyundai as well.
There is a lot involved in order to become OEM certified. This includes training, having specific equipment and certain facility requirements. For example, requirements to become a Ford auminum shop required extensive training, including having our techs certified in aluminum welding. There was also the expense of the required equipment and a clean room. Shop owners should not expect a short-term return on their investments.
Q. What is the benefit to a collision repair shop that has OEM certifications?
A. The number one benefit is trying to migrate away from the DRPs. We all know the challenges of dealing with those programs and the concessions that unfortunately you have to concede to in order to join them. My biggest heroes are the shops that have all of the work they can handle and no DRPs. This has allowed us to take a second look at our DRPs and become more selective as to which ones we choose do work with.
Q. As one of only 10 Volkswagen certified repair shops in the state of Texas, what is your advice to shops that want to obtain certifications?
A. My feeling is that it’s the way the industry is going. The manufacturers have a vested interest and are promoting certified shops in quarterly mail outs and on email communications. If you don’t get on board with OEM certifications, you are going to be left behind. It helps us focus our training on specific types of vehicles and also requires us to have the equipment necessary to repair a vehicle and put it back to pre-accident condition. Some also provide OEM website access. There are a plethora of collision repair shops that are not properly equipped or trained.
Q. As an ABAT (Auto Body Association of Texas) board member, what is the importance of joining an association and getting involved?
A. I have been part of ABAT since July 2014. I think it’s important to be involved in the industry and play an active role in trying to make things better.
I feel that the 20 years of suppression in labor and material rates have negatively affected our industry. One example is a severe shortage of qualified collision repair technicians. We need to increase wages to attract young people into this industry. Everyone needs to participate in the Variable Rate System, a third-party company that conducts rate and process surveys by state and region. You can go to www.vrssystem.com and participate; it’s free.
We need to change laws in Texas to stop the use of non-OEM parts on newer cars as well as require insurance companies to pay for procedures that the estimating systems list as not included items, “Database manipulation law.” We are also looking at anti-steering legislation as everyone has felt the effects of having cars pulled out of their shop.
For more information about the association, visit www.ABAT.us