Friday, 14 December 2012 22:19

Glendale/Foothill CAA Chapter President Looks Back at 2012

As chapter president of the California Auto Body Association Glendale/Foothill-Pasadena chapter, we can look back upon our chapter meetings and know that we have had some very educational and informative meetings. We were one of the three chapters chosen in the state of California to host the LETF-Labor Enforcement Task Force auto body compliance presentations. This enabled our chapter members to prepare for LETF visits and what to expect and how to properly comply.

We also tackled the issue of the Bureau of Automotive Repairs Ethics and Integrity.

In addition, we hosted a panel discussion by Gene Lopez, Western Regional Manager of I-CAR, on “Cuttings Costs and Improving Shop Efficiencies and Profits.” Five distinguished body shop owners contributed some very interesting information. We had over 70 people at that meeting and I guarantee you everyone learned something they could put to work in their shops the next day.

The chapter hosted a pre-SEMA equipment showcase. Tom Gattuso, SEMA trade show director, gave us the complete insight on the SEMA show, which is now the largest trade show of its kind in the automotive industry. We saw some of the newest equipment technology in the automotive industry that later won prestigious SEMA awards.

Toby Chess, I-CAR instructor, talked about “Where is our industry going in the future and what are you going to do about it?” It was very educational and informative.

We have been keeping our chapter informed about the AQMD Rule 1147, regarding installing and converting your heaters to low NOx burners on your spray booths.

Our chapter focuses on what the needs are for collision repairers in today’s competitive market place.

As we move into 2013, as predicted a few years ago, the large consolidators are rapidly moving forward with their acquisition of MSO’s (multiple shop owners) at a high rate of speed. My dear friend George Beaucather of Hi-Tech Collision Centers just recently sold all of his shops to Caliber Collision Centers.

Tom Holmes of Holmes Body Shops sold all but one of his eight shops to Cook’s Collision Centers. There will be many more in 2013. We have other consolidators moving into the California market from out of state to acquire their market share. This will make it much more difficult for single shop owners to compete with this type of competition.

It is my firm belief that the insurance companies think they are getting a “better deal.”

But when it comes to dealing with a single shop owner, generally speaking, the customer who owns the car is getting the better deal, such as more personalized service, higher quality repairs and better communication. The customer is not “just another number.”

There is room for both in our industry. It is high time that the major insurance companies realize this.

The single shop owners are going to have much more difficulty in affording the new type of equipment that will be required to repair aluminum and the new high-strength steel automobiles that are coming out, and the expense involved in all of the special training classes for technicians. The insurance companies need to not shut out the independent shops. If they do this, how will these shops afford to stay up with the current technology?

It is a time in our industry when we really need to stick together and make all of this work for the independent shop owners and the insurance companies. There are many good Class A independent shops out there that deserve the respect and equality from the insurance companies. They, too, need an equal stake in this business of repairing cars. There is no need for the insurance companies to pass up the independent shop owner for a consolidator. Didn’t most consolidators once start as a single shop owner in the beginning?

I look forward to working with my CAA chapter members and giving them the tools they need to survive these changes. I look forward to working with all of my body shop customers, helping them acquire the proper equipment at fair prices, assisting my clients with wise marketing strategies, and representing all of the body shops in Southern California to stop the AQMD from making the shops install costly low NOx burners on their older spray booths as a part of Rule 1147.

Wishing everyone a good beginning and prosperous 2013.

Linda Holcomb owns J.R. Sandoval Enterprises & Consulting located in Monrovia, CA, www.jrsandoval.net, specializing in selling body shop equipment since 1973. Holcomb has been the president of the CAA Glendale/Foothill Chapter for over two years, and looks forward to many informative and well attended meetings in 2013.

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