January 2009 New England Automotive Report



January 2009 New England Automotive Report
CMARA Looks Back on a Busy 2008 - pg. 41
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New England Automotive Report
New England Automotive Report
January 2009 3
It Takes Genuine SAAB Collision Repair Parts To Achieve A Genuine SAAB Fit.
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527 Station Rd.
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4 January 2009
New England Automotive Report
Saab of Danbury
102 Federal Road
Danbury, CT 06810
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Shaw Saab
22 Pond Street
Norwell, MA 02061
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Accent Auto Group
419 Elm Street
Milford, NH 03055
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Patrick Motors
519 Washington Street
Auburn, MA 01501
Fax: 508-721-2374
9 Bartlet Street #143
Andover, MA 01810
Phone: 978-749-9695
Fax: 978-749-0687
email: [email protected]
website: www.aaspmari.org
Rick Starbard
Bill Cahill
Russell Bradway
Gary Cloutier
Bob Baylis
January 2009 • Volume 7, Number 1
National News
11 CCC Reinstates Bumper Refinish Prompt With Pathways 4.5 Release
11 DEG Surpasses One Thousand Inquiries
11 SCRS Names Aaron Schulenburg Executive Director
Technical Update
18 An Accurate and Complete Estimate
by Mark Giammalvo
On the Lift
20 When You Get Lemons...
by Leon Bousquet
Alex Falzone
Michael Coran
Alex Falzone
Jeffrey Choy
Russell Hamel
Brian Hohmann
Butch Rand
Mark Millman
Peter Abdelmaseh
Guest Editorial
22 Labor Rate Reform: We’re Still at the Table
by Tom Ricci, CMARA President
Tech Feature
27 The Theory of EME+54 = Proper Repairs: The Lack of Basic
Estimating Procedures Can Kill Your Productivity! Part One of a Two-Part Series
by Larry Montanez III, with Peter Pratti Jr.
Cover Story
35 Hurry Up & Wait? AASP MA/RI Members React to New Inspection Program
by Joel Gausten
Thomas Greco ([email protected])
Alicia Figurelli ([email protected])
Joel Gausten ([email protected])
Norman Morano
(800)991-1995 ([email protected])
CMARA Update
41 CMARA Looks Back on a Busy 2008
by Joel Gausten
Lea Velocci ([email protected])
Megan Maletich ([email protected])
Rick Starbard • Bill Cahill • Peter Abdelmaseh •
Leon Bousquet • Mark Giammalvo
Published by: Thomas Greco Publishing, Inc.
244 Chestnut Street, Suite 202, Nutley, NJ 07110
Corporate: (973) 667-6922 / FAX: (973) 235-1963
Advertising: (732) 280-6000 / FAX: (732) 280-6601
6 Vice President’s Message
46 Index of Advertisers
New England Automotive Report is published monthly by TGP, Inc., 244 Chestnut Street, Suite 202 Nutley, NJ 07110. Distributed free to qualified recipients; $48 to all others. Additional copies of New
England Automotive Report are available at $5 per copy. Reproduction of any portions of this publication is specifically prohibited without written permission of the publisher. The opinions and ideas
appearing in this magazine are not necessarily representations of TGP Inc. or of AASP MA/RI or CMARA. Copyright © 2009 by Thomas Greco Publishing, Inc.
Cover image ©istockphoto.com/Slavoljub Pantelic.
New England Automotive Report
January 2009 5
Vice President’s Message
Turn the Page:
It’s a New Year!
Bill Cahill
I wanted to take this article and slam a lot of people for what
they have done over the past year or so. I have been advised to
take the high road, but I would be remiss if left it unmentioned.
Small people in high places and big people in low places have
struck again. From lies and deceit to so-called friends and foe
alike, all have worked to undo a lot of what AASP stands for –
and all for the sake of self-interest. And definitely not for the industry’s best interests, although they fly that flag openly.
A New Year is upon us again. The New Year brings a time
for reflection and goal-setting, a time for looking back at our accomplishments - and our failures. And goals give us a cause and
reason to go forward.
As I write this article, I have a good idea what my personal
and professional goals are for the upcoming year. A plan for the
approaching year will no doubt give way to some unplanned
events, but the closer we stay true to achieving our goals, the happier we become.
AASP MA/RI has had some great successes over the past
year (I also include the two-year legislative session that is closing at year’s end). Our association has filed and championed two
great legislative initiatives: The Labor Rate Bill and the Right to
Repair Bill. We have also been active in the new state emissions
program. We have definitely seen ups and downs in all of these
endeavors, but we have not wavered one bit on our fundamental
I know that AASP MA/RI will file the Labor Rate Bill again
to bolster our position in the political arena as not to get outflanked by the opponents. Yes, we must say, some oppose an increase in the collision shop Labor Rate paid by insurers. It is hard
to understand; however, opposition is present.
We will also be filing a revamped Right to Repair Bill. Recent technology has given pause to the approach we as an industry have taken on Right to Repair. We intend to lead this charge
in a direction for a better outcome. The bill AASP MA/RI introduced last year (H296) was severely distorted during the political process. Our newest version is more durable and technically
correct. Yet some in our industry want to reuse the failed attempt
as the template for the future of the legislation.
With the current economic outlook, I see the auto repair business faring well in the upcoming year or so. People have refused
6 January 2009
New England Automotive Report
to buy new cars, and we are finding that they are willing to fix just
about anything that moves. But even with that said, some businesses are busy and some are still slow. A friendly warning to the
wise: If you are making some extra money during these better
times, sock some of it away. Even if you’re doing well right now,
the rainy days aren’t that far off.
Again, with the economic outlook, I will be the first to say
that the strong will survive. I think some shops and dealers will
go away. Unfortunately, we may lose a few good ones as we lose
some of the weaker businesses that fail over the next year or so,
but sheer market force alone should be the decider; not any special interest.
One of the things I am most proud of is the way in which
AASP MA/RI represents our industry. We hear of corruption and
“special interests” on Beacon Hill in Boston and Capitol Hill in
Washington D.C. as it corrupts the “process.” And we see it when
we go up against big business to fight our causes. But we also
see it from within - when segments of our industry put their needs
and wants in front of everyone else’s.
I can honestly say that AASP MA/RI always tries to represent the entire industry; from the small two-bay shop to the 20bay facility, we try to figure out what will work for everyone. Our
board never discounts anyone. We never say someone is too big
or too small to be represented. We usually find arguments on both
sides of an issue and start to compromise a solution, and then
fight for that purpose.
I do want to take an opportunity to state that our board of directors, with the leadership of Rick Starbard, has taken the following unwavering positions:
- Passage of the Massachusetts Right to Repair Bill
- Passage of the Labor Rate Bill
- Increase of quality in the State Vehicle Check (inspection
program) by including more Registered Repair Shops as
Inspection Stations.
I wish you strength as you begin this year. Like many other
industries, we must suffer the lows to enjoy the benefit of the
highs. Hopefully our good times are not very far away.
Mass./Rhode Island
New England Automotive Report
January 2009 7
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January 2009 9
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New England Automotive Report
National News
CCC Reinstates Bumper Refinish Prompt With
Pathways 4.5 Release
The Database Task Force (DTF) recently announced that CCC
has reintroduced the “Bumper Refinish Prompt” in their Pathways
4.5 release, despite a multi-year effort to convince CCC that their
estimating system bumper refinish prompt was in direct conflict
with paint manufacturer approved refinish procedures.
The DTF, comprised of representatives from the Alliance of
Automotive Service Providers (AASP), the Automotive Service Association (ASA) and the Society of Collision Repair Specialists
(SCRS), explained in a recent release that they were “shocked and
disheartened to learn of this most recent reversal. Interestingly, after
literally years of discussions and the Task Force providing documentation, coordinating meetings with all the paint manufacturers,
as well as providing accolades publicly for CCC ‘doing the right
thing,’ they elected to ‘forget’ to discuss the change in direction
with the Database Task Force prior to implementing the change.”
The DTF says documentation the Task Force has received subsequently shows that at least one major insurer was fully apprised
of the proposed changes at least 60 days in advance of the release.
In fact, this major insurer drafted instructions (including screen
shots), and distributed them, on how they want their “Repair Partners” to set the default in their systems (regardless of how repairers perform the actual repairs).
During a CIC meeting at NACE 2007, the following statement
was publicly read by Bruce Yungkans representing CCC, to the audience: “Based on some documented and very compelling and convincing new information to us, we’ve been able to determine
unequivocally that…refinishing non-metallic bumpers requires use
of a material that is not recommended on the rest of the vehicle.”
Following that, Yungkans also stated that CCC would, “as soon
as practical,” change its estimating system to ensure “the refinish
overlap between bumpers and other parts refinished on the vehicle
will not be applied” and that “clearcoat refinish labor and material
that is applied to the bumper will not be included in the calculation
of any pre-defined clearcoat caps.”
New England Automotive Report will provide full coverage of
this issue as it develops.
DEG Surpasses One Thousand Inquiries
The Database Enhancement Gateway (DEG) has announced
that, as projected in a release in June 2008, it has processed over
1,000 inquiries. This tremendous milestone for the highly successful breakout initiative comes before the close of its first full year of
“Inspiring” was the word used by Darrell Amberson of the
DEG Joint Operating Committee (JOC). “The three national trade
associations joined together for this initiative to offer a service to
the industry that we believed would improve the communication
process as it related to collision estimating data. With no other similar initiative in place, it made it difficult in the beginning for us to
effectively project how successful the endeavor would be and if,
and how quickly, it would establish itself within the industry to accomplish its goal. Clearly at the end of the first year, we are elated
that we have achieved this level of use, even more so with the imcontinued on pg. 16
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New England Automotive Report
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New England Automotive Report
January 2009 13
14 January 2009
New England Automotive Report
New England Automotive Report
January 2009 15
National News
continued from pg. 11
pact this initiative has had on the industry.”
“One thousand inquiries is an accomplishment all of us are incredibly proud to
see come to fruition,” shared Barry Dorn,
DEG JOC member, “but we also realize that
we are only currently capitalizing on a small
percentage of the inquiries that potentially
exist. Our hope is that as the successes of
the DEG are relayed throughout the industry, more individuals will take advantage of
opportunities available to them to proactively communicate with the Information
Providers in the interest of helping to
achieve the most accurate data possible.”
For more information about the
DEG, or if you have an inquiry regarding
estimating software data, please visit
SCRS Names Aaron Schulenburg
Executive Director
The Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) announced recently that it
has hired Aaron Schulenburg as the association’s executive director. As reported by
CollisionWeek Online (www.collisionweek.com), the association says Schulenburg’s combined experience in collision
repair businesses, associations, and inter-industry relations will be great assets for
SCRS and its affiliates.
Schulenburg, currently serving as the
administrator of the Database Enhancement
Gateway (DEG), began his new duties with
the SCRS on January 5, 2009.
Schulenburg has previously worked for
repair facilities in Arizona, Delaware, and
Maryland, and has held positions as an executive officer of the Washington Metropolitan Auto Body Association (WMABA),
a director of the National Auto Body Council (NABC), and as a guest speaker before
numerous state and regional associations,
business development groups, annual corporate conferences on both national and regional fronts.
“Aaron Schulenburg is an excellent
choice on multiple fronts,” said SCRS
Chairman Gary Wano, Jr. “Clearly, Aaron
provides SCRS with a highly qualified and
respected individual within our industry to
serve as SCRS’ executive director. In addition, Aaron’s working relationship with the
leadership of the national trade associations
will enhance the already strong bonds becontinued on pg. 19
16 January 2009
New England Automotive Report
New England Automotive Report
January 2009 17
Technical Spotlight
An Accurate and
Complete Estimate
Mark Giammalvo
How accurate are your estimates, and how clearly do you explain your services on your invoices?
Several months ago, my wife was charged with the responsibility of taking care of a friend’s cat while they were away on vacation. Taking care of the animals of friends and family is not that
unusual for us, and is not that difficult, either, since we are used to
caring for our own animals at home. Our friends had entrusted their
cat ‘Tom’ with us for two weeks, and all went well for about seven
days. On our eighth trip to their home, we found that Tom now
seemed to have difficulty breathing and was not moving around
much; he was definitely not his usual playful self. We immediately
contacted the owner and they authorized us to take Tom to the nearest veterinary hospital.
Upon arrival at the hospital, we were notified that there would
be an initial $95 fee for Tom’s emergency exam. Our credit card was
presented and we nervously waited while Tom was taken into examination. Approximately 20 minutes later, a veterinary assistant
came out to meet us and stated that they had a diagnostic plan for
Tom. The assistant explained that it looked like Tom had some form
of lung disease, and that it was possible he could be treated effectively. The assistant then presented us with the following estimate,
or what they referenced as Tom’s “Patient Care Plan:”
This document lists procedures to be performed on Tom. This plan
only approximates the cost of this visit. It does not include any treatments
that may be deemed necessary upon examination and commencement of
the included treatments. The following is a list of treatments and/or supplies expected to be required during this visit and their approximate cost.
You are responsible for all fees incurred during this visit included or not
included on this sheet.
Procedure / Dispensed Item Qty.
Charge To Hospitalization (estimate) per day:
Nursing care estimate per day:
Daily Doctor Exam
IV Catheter short
Radiograph 1st of two views
Injectable drugs estimate
$50.00 - $75.00
Oral Drugs Estimate
$10.00 - $30.00
Oxygen therapy initial setup
Emergency Examination 8am-midnight
CBC/Chemistry Profile
Oxygen at 1-2L flow per hour 12
$100.80 - $108.86
Miscellaneous Treatment
$30.00 - $37.50
Total estimated charges:
Actual cost may vary between $686.90 and 747.46. A deposit of 50%
of the high end of the patient care plan is required before performing
these services.
We called Tom’s owner, who immediately gave approval for the
services. Tom was kept under watch overnight and underwent the
above tests and medications. When we returned for Tom the fol18 January 2009
New England Automotive Report
lowing day, we were presented with the most thorough treatment
plan (read: Estimate) that I had ever seen. As a matter of fact, I have
never seen such a professional diagnosis in print, even from my own
physician. The treatment plan read as follows:
Presenting Complaint: Pet sitter has had since Thurs. Not quite right yesterday, today dyspnea. Per owners, cat has been trying to cough up a hairball for several days.
Physical Examination: Tom was open-mouth breathing at presentation.
Crackles were heard on auscultation.
Treatment: Gave 0.2ml Lasix IM and placed in O2. Put Nitro paste on R ear
pinna. Placed IV catheter. Started Aminophylline after radiographs were
Diagnostics: Lateral Chest Radiographs - heart size appears normal, mild
bronchial lung pattern, moderate interstitial pattern R middle lung lobe adjacent to heart r/o lung collapse. CBC - WBC wnl, lumph 0.4. PCV/TS
42/8.4. Chemistry - Glu 159, TP 8.3. A heart worm test is pending with Idexx
- we will call with results.
Diagnosis: Bronchiolar lung disease: causes include asthma (most likely),
feline heartworm, lungworm, bacterial bronchitis. Consider further testing.
Medications: 1. Prednisolone 5mg - Give ½ tablet by mouth twice daily for
5 days then ½ tablet once daily for 5 days then ½ tablet every other day for
5 days. Always keep some of this medication on hand in case of flare-ups.
Prednisolone suppresses the immune system therefore can predispose Tom
to infections (i.e. Urinary tract infection, etc.). Prednisone causes increased
drinking, eating, urinating and panting. Prednisone predisposes animals to
diabetes, pancreatitis, and liver disease. Do not stop this medication
abruptly. If he becomes symptomatic (i.e. Difficulty breathing etc.) once the
prednisone is weaned, we may want to consider keeping him on a low dose
for life or starting a steroid inhaler, which has fewer side effects. Due at
7am and 7pm.
2. Terbutaline 2.5mg (bronchodilator): Give 1/4 tablet by mouth twice daily.
He may need to be on this medication for life. Due at 7am and 7pm.
3. Clavamox (antibotic) - give 1 ml by mouth twice daily until gone. Due at
7am and 7 pm.
4. Panacur suspension (42c) - Give 3 cc by mouth once daily for 14 days.
Follow Up: Tom will likely have seasonal flare ups. Early recognition of
signs (coughing, faster breathing) and restarting prednisone should control
the episodes. Some animals need continuous treatment (daily medications,
daily inhaler therapy or monthly injections) to control their symptoms. If
he needs daily medication, please consider an inhaler to administer the
steroids. You can practice getting him used to a face mask at home. If this
seems possible at home, please call us and we can order the inhaler (steroid
and bronchodilator) for you. If he is not doing well, consider a tracheal
wash. This procedure does require anesthesia.
All that being said, a cat is not a car. However, as automotive
technicians, we do perform many complex services each and every
day. The bottom line is, how thorough are you on your estimates? An
oil change may not require a 200-word narrative, but a 3,000-mile
service or a timing belt replacement may. Consider using your repair
order writing skills to show your customers all the items that are included as a part of each and every specific service procedure. If
someone asks for a timing belt, does your repair order just simply
National News
state a ‘one liner’ of “Replace timing belt for X dollars”? Consider a break down of the services within the timing belt service.
For example, at our shop, we have programmed our garage
management software to spill out the following information on
every work order for a timing belt job:
The timing belt replacement includes: Remove accessory drive
belts; upper and lower timing belt covers; remove upper engine motor
mount; remove valve cover and gasket; remove crankshaft pulley and
remove timing belt tensioner. Align timing components and replace timing belt. Adjust timing belt tension and reinstall all previously removed
components. Adjust accessory drive belts. Adjust ignition timing. Road
test vehicle.
Likewise, our Major Tune-Up Service states: Replace and gap
spark plugs. Inspect or replace air filter; inspect or replace fuel filter;
inspect or replace pcv valve. Inspect ignition cables. Clean and tighten
battery terminals. On distributor equipped vehicles, check distributor
cap and rotor. Check and adjust ignition timing. Clean throttle body
deposits. Replace cabin air filters.
Since not all vehicles will require all of the above procedures,
we simply delete or modify the wording as it applies to each specific vehicle.
As complete as it seems, I still feel as though the veterinarian was much more thorough in his procedural wording. It makes
me want to go back into our garage software and modify these
jobs so that they are even more detailed. Regardless, I believe that
it is easier for the consumer to justify spending three and four
digit figures if the work performed is described correctly in a very
thorough and complete repair order, rather than a ‘one liner’ repair
continued from pg. 16
tween the SCRS, ASA, and AASP.”
The DEG is a joint initiative developed and initially funded
by SCRS, ASA, and the Alliance of Automotive Service
Providers. The DEG enables collision repair estimating database
users to provide feedback to Information Providers in a public
manner in order to promote data accuracy.
“Working with the DEG has been a very fulfilling and exciting experience,” said Schulenburg. “It was not just what was done,
but how it was done; with the cooperative efforts of all three national associations. With these relationships already in place, there
is great opportunity for more ideas and initiatives between SCRS,
ASA, and AASP that can show the industry by example SCRS’
adage that ‘Working Together Is The Most Important Work We
Schulenburg is just the third person to hold the title of executive director for SCRS in its twenty-five year history. Dan Risley held the position for eight years prior to his resignation in
August 2008. John Loftus served as the association’s first executive director and held the post for 17 years.
According to Schulenburg, the DEG will soon be soliciting
applications for a new administrator and is expected to operate
normally through the administrative transition.
For more information about the DEG, or to submit an inquiry
regarding estimating software data, visit www.degweb.org.
Mass./Rhode Island
Mass./Rhode Island
New England Automotive Report
January 2009 19
On the Lift
by Leon Bousquet
When You Get Lemons...
When you get lemons, you make lemonade. The economy is
giving us lemons at the moment, and unless some snow or freezing rain shows up, we are going to remain in the same boat as the
rest of the world. So, how do we turn this sour time into something good? With lemonade, you add a lot of sugar. Our sugar is
our time.
If things are slow, it should naturally follow that you have
more time on your hands; choose to use this time wisely. Focus
on things that can make an improvement in your business, things
that do not necessarily demand that you spend a lot of money.
First off, the most important element in your business is you.
The customers come because they believe you care about them,
and as the owner, you do. Shake their hand and thank them for
their business. Look them in the eye and show them the enthusiasm you have about fixing their car.
Second, look at your reception area; walk in as if you had
never been there before. Would a little paint on the walls help,
maybe a small table with flowers? You do not get a second chance
at a first impression. When I was planning my showroom, I went
to other paint stores and looked at their setups to see what worked.
Thanks to the Internet, you can look at other auto body locations
without even leaving your desk. Come on; use that computer for
more than Solitaire!
Third, explore options you did not consider before. Just as
you have taken a fresh look at your facility, take a look at the business opportunities in your surrounding area. I guarantee you drive
by two or three places every morning that can use your services.
If you are a refinisher, there are fleets, display manufacturers,
handicap van producers, equipment and steel cabinet manufacturers, snowplow manufacturers and more, all in need of painting
their products. In good times, I check the “Help Wanted” ads to
see which company is looking for painters. If they need a painter,
they are using paint. Do not shut yourself off to these outside opportunities; it can become a great backup when times get slow,
like right now! Also, we have all heard the tales of a DRP shop
getting shut off by their biggest benefactor and losing 90 percent
of their business overnight. Not having all your eggs in one basket helps to prevent this scenario.
Fourth, a mind is like a parachute; it only works when it is
open. Everything I have written about, today and before this, has
been about having an open mind. Failure to recognize - and adapt
to - change has closed many a business. Just ask Polaroid, Atari,
20 January 2009
New England Automotive Report
GM, Ford, Chrysler, Want Advertiser Magazine (killed by Craig’s
List) if they think that is true. If I started a car company today and
offered a car with points, a carburetor, AM radio, bias ply tires,
12,000-mile service intervals on plugs, wires, cap, rotor, points,
condensers…would you buy it? Sure, I would throw in the 8-track
player at no charge, but you see where I am going. I doubt half
the people reading this even know what that stuff is. It would be
like your shop still using lacquer, siphon feed guns, Styrofoam
cups for hardener, gasoline as a pre-wash, nitro-stan for putty, and
so on.
Fifth, take some classes. What better time to go to “Writing
a Better Estimate” or “Lean Procedures” classes than right now?
There are many schools available from your industry and suppliers for you to take advantage of. Attend local events; see and be
seen by your potential customers.
Open your mind to the new things around you; the people
that adopt new practices sooner will outpace everyone else. America has always been about innovation. We have lost that edge and
the rest of the world has caught up. Now, we ship our jobs overseas. Your job will not go overseas, but it might go next door or
down the street. Use these slow times to evaluate where you are
and where you want to be. Now is the time to plan how those
changes are going to take place, and when. It may be as simple as
painting the inside of the shop, or it may be planning the expansion of your facility when you put the “stick in the mud” down the
road out of business.
One of my favorite movies is ‘Tucker.” Rent it and pay attention to the courtroom scene. The “Big Three” automakers got
killed in the ‘80s because, as Lee Iacocca said, “We were making
junk.” You think they would have learned their lesson then.
Twenty years later, they are looking for a bailout because they are
bloated and inefficient, and build bad cars.
There is no bailout coming for us. Look to make your own
changes before it is too late, before we are almost out. You have
your lemons; time to make some lemonade. All you need to do is
find your sugar!
Mass./Rhode Island
Leon Bousquet is president of
Central Paint Supply, Inc. in Worcester, Ma.
He can be reached via phone at 508-438-0350,
or via email at [email protected]
1250 South Willow St.
Manchester, NH 03103
Fax: 800-641-5554
Local: 603-669-8480
Fax Local: 603-641-5554
3 Million Dollar Inventory
Why Wait? We Have It!
Mon - Fri: 7am - 5:30pm
Sat: 7am - 4pm
Guest Editorial
Labor Rate Reform:
We’re Still at the Table
Tom Ricci
CMARA President
By the time you read this, the holidays will be behind us. I hope you all had
a wonderful time celebrating with family
and friends. As winter is upon us, so are
the snowstorms and icy road conditions.
22 January 2009
As we all know in the auto body business, this generates business! But be
careful what you wish for; the ice storm
that hit us on December 12 that downed
so many trees and took power away for
New England Automotive Report
so many people was a bit too much to ask
I am Tom Ricci, president of
CMARA (the Central Mass. Auto Rebuilders Association). This year, my role
as president has been one of sheer determination as we have pursued the Labor
Rate Bill (House Bill 1085), first introduced into the state legislature in January
2007. We have worked respectively with
the AASP MA/RI to submit this bill. In
July 2008, a revised version of the bill,
Section 108, which established a special
commission to study auto body Labor
Rates and create a tiered rating system
for shops, was included in the final version of the state’s Budget Conference Report and signed by Gov. Deval Patrick.
The issue at hand is a fundamental
question about how body shops are reimbursed. Insurance companies believe
market forces will set a reasonable rate,
which can then be negotiated between the
insurer and the repairer. But body shop
owners claim that insurance companies
have artificially depressed Labor Rates
for years. If the commission’s report
strongly favors the language of the original bill, then the legislature will be more
likely to pass the measure.
Looking back at the past two years
since CMARA and AASP MA/RI jointly
filed this bill, I reflect on how well – or
not, in some cases – we have done.
Sometimes, I vacillate between wanting
to go home and celebrate with a victory
beer or two; other times, all I feel are the
letdowns, disappointments and frustration as we wait for the legislation to take
the necessary steps toward reform.
After a particularly dismal Labor
Rate Committee meeting held on December 4, we felt we had just been sideswiped. I stated to AASP MA/RI
President Rick Starbard and Executive
Director Peter Abdelmaseh that at least
we were “still at the table.” Rick looked
at me and said, with brutal honesty, “You
have been saying that since I’ve been involved, and you’ve been at this longer
than I have.” Leaving the meeting, I saw
Peter speechless for the first time in my
life. (Can you imagine Peter speechless?)
As I drove him to his destination, which
was all of 10 minutes, the silence was
deafening and felt like a long, long 10minute ride. After dropping him off, as I
headed home I saw a piece of road kill on
the side of the road. I felt like road kill;
the trailer truck had run me over. (I was
also enjoying the bumper-to-bumper traffic as much as I had enjoyed the meeting!) At that point, I felt that the tide had
just shifted on all of the efforts we had
put forth to this point, and Rick’s words
kept ringing in my head over and over
This is, and will always be, similar
to the David and Goliath story.
While consumed in the good fight,
things can become overwhelming. However, I will not stop fighting that fight. I
didn’t take on the CMARA presidency to
sit back and relax. My goal from the start
has been to be actively involved in reforming the way Massachusetts governs
the Labor Rates. We have to pull ourselves up from our bootstraps; we need
to be vigilant. We really are at the table;
although it often looks like insurance
companies have the upper hand, we will
continue to seek a fair rate for Massachusetts. Our state Labor Rates are lower
than the national average and 21 percent
below our neighboring New England
states, as reported by the AIB. Rates for
mechanical work are at least double and,
in some cases, triple the average body
shop Labor Rate of $35 per hour.
As I drive to work on a Friday morning, Rick’s words still echo in my head.
But as I look out my windshield, I also
see clear blue skies with absolutely no
clouds in sight and a pink hue on the
horizon with the sun about to rise. So we,
like the sun, must rise day after day. We
can’t fall prey to insurance companies,
and that’s why we can’t give up. We need
to force them to pay a fair and reasonable
rate. Peter Abdelmaseh has said that we
are running a marathon, and I never
thought I’d be running it this long. But
we must stay in the race.
Rhode Island took many years to get
a higher Labor Rate established from
most insurers. While they were able to
achieve reform after many years of relentless pursuit, they still did not get the
full rate as mandated by the state regulations. We can’t lose our collective focus.
Full reform is achievable, and we are
working toward the changes to take place
in the near future.
Collectively, we have forced this
issue to make enough noise that they (the
legislatures and the insurance industry)
are hearing us. I am confident that we
will achieve victory from the pressure we
have exerted in the last two years and the
continued swell in the near future. It hasn’t been easy and it won’t get any easier,
but we must stay the course. Maybe this
is like a 15-round fight instead of a
marathon, and we’ve gotten through a
few rounds but may have many more in
front of us.
I want to take this opportunity to personally thank the members of CMARA
and AASP MA/RI and all interested parties who have worked diligently and passionately to support this reform.
New England Automotive Report
Mass./Rhode Island
January 2009 23
24 January 2009
New England Automotive Report
New England Automotive Report
January 2009 25
26 January 2009
New England Automotive Report
Tech Feature
by Larry Montanez III, with Peter Pratti Jr.*
The Theory of EME + 54 = Proper Repairs:
The Lack of Basic Estimating Procedures Can Kill Your Productivity!
Part One of a Two-Part Series
The collision repair field is one of many industries that deal
with the multiple facets of mechanical and electrical engineering, although most collision repairers will deal with the mechanical engineering aspect exclusively. Some might refer to
this field as “automotive engineering,” or “automotive design
engineering,” regardless of the terminology we are discussing
with the engineering field. If we compare the auto body field to
some other fields that work closely with engineering, you will
see a vast difference in how these fields compare with each other
as it pertains to collision damage, or damage repairs.
If a large ocean liner crashes into a pier and the ship sustains structural damage, the ship goes into dry dock for repairs.
While there, does the ship go on a Ship-O-Liner and get pulled
back into shape by some technician eyeballing it? The ship
would have any structural damage removed and replaced by
using the original design specifications and would be measured
multiple times before final welding and/or riveting of the re-
placement parts.
What might happen to the typical collision damaged vehicle? In some repair shops, the vehicle would be damage-analyzed while still assembled. Parts would be ordered, and the
vehicle would be torn down and placed on a frame machine. At
that time, in many cases, there would be more damaged parts
found and ordered. The repairs would be started, because it
would be a waste of time to remove the vehicle from the frame
machine. As parts showed up, the technician would try to fit the
parts, all the while taking measurements with a tape measure or
a tram gauge because the three-dimensional equipment “takes
too long to set up” or is unavailable. The vehicle would come off
the frame machine and go into the plastic department. From
there, it would go to the paint department and then on to reassembly. While the vehicle is being reassembled in cases like
these, the technician might have to drill larger holes to make
continued on pg. 30
New England Automotive Report
January 2009 27
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28 January 2009
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New England Automotive Report
January 2009 29
Tech Feature
continued from pg. 27
parts fit correctly; from there, the vehicle would go for a wheel
alignment – often on the day delivery is scheduled! The wheel
alignment shop then calls to inform you that the vehicle will not
take an alignment due to the front or rear suspension being out
of specification! Has this has ever happened to you? Here is a
solution that will help you avoid this and other similar productivity-killing situations.
I have developed a plan to prevent problems with vehicle
repair. The theory is simple and logical, and, if followed precisely, will assist you in securing a proper, safe and liability-free
repair. The theory is broken down into two components. The
first component is the EME principal. This is an acronym for
“Every, Most and Every.” What follows is an explanation.
Every: Every collision-damaged vehicle must be measured.
Regardless of the type of damage a vehicle sustains, some part
might have been jarred or skewed from its original position and
will need to be checked. Most three-dimensional measuring
equipment allows the vehicle to be measured without being
placed on the frame machine, like a Car-O-Liner or Chief. Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are designing vehicles
with an emphasis on safety in the passenger compartment with
the addition of advanced high strength steels. Most OEMs are
utilizing ultra high strength steel, martensitic steel and boron alloyed steel or UsiBor on inner structural pillars. The newly designed structures are forcing collision energy past the passenger
compartment to the opposite end of the vehicle. If you look
closely at any crash video, you will see the vehicle will stay
ridged in the center section and the rear of the vehicle will continue to move in a forward direction. This is the main reason
that a vehicle hit in the front will not take a wheel alignment; the
rear section moved even though there was only minor to medium
damage in the front.
Most: Most measured collision damaged vehicles will require
structural realignment. Even if the wheel/suspension assembly
gets ripped off the vehicle, all the components attach to the
structure of the vehicle, so there could be damage or movement
to those attachment points. If you measure the vehicle and there
is no structural damage, at least you will know that when you
first start the vehicle - not after it has been repaired and (you
think!) it’s ready for delivery.
Every: Every structurally realigned vehicle MUST have at
least a four-wheel alignment check. As was mentioned previously, look at any crash video and examine the suspension
continued on pg. 33
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30 January 2009
New England Automotive Report
New England Automotive Report
January 2009 31
South Shore Volkswagen
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fax: 781-829-3393
Mattie Volkswagen
80 William S. Canning Blvd.
Fall River, MA 02771
fax: 508-730-1283
Scott Volkswagen
260 Newport Ave
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fax: 401-431-0358
e-mail: [email protected]
VW of West Hartford
470 New Park Ave.
West Hartford, CT. 06110
fax: 860-523-5371
Patrick Motors
519 Washington St.
Auburn, MA 01501
fax: 508-721-2374
Boston Volkswagen
168 Western Ave.
Allston, MA 02134
fax: 617-783-6309
32 January 2009
New England Automotive Report
Atamian Volkwagen
150 Main Street
Tewksbury, MA 01876
fax: 978-640-1511
Tech Feature
continued from pg. 30
movement. Although it can’t be said that the vehicle must have
an alignment, it should be checked for proper adjustment. A
four-wheel alignment check is just that - a check. You are simply verifying the position of the adjustable components on a suspension system. The days of “set the toe and let it go” are over
because a two-wheel alignment is only proper for a non-collision damaged vehicle. Collision damaged vehicles MUST have
a four-wheel alignment (or what I refer to as an “all-wheel alignment”).
The second part of my theory is the “54.” I use “5” to represent the five areas of the vehicle that must be measured, and
the “4” represents the number of times you will need to measure the vehicle. The five key areas are explained below.
when replacing structural parts that involve stationary glass.
Trunk/Hatch Opening: These openings will need to
be checked for proper operation and alignment. The trunk/hatch
area needs to be measured for collateral damage after a side or
frontal impact. This is especially true when dealing with an SUV
or station wagon. The vehicle could have collateral damage due
to the attachment of the hatch/tailgate assembly.
Suspension Mounting/Parts: If the vehicle structure has sustained damage, and since the suspension parts are
attached directly to the structure, then it would be imperative
that the mounting areas be checked. This is the major cause of
wheel alignment issues – whether or not they are discovered
when you plan to deliver the vehicle.
continued on pg. 36
5: Areas of Measurements,
Underbody (including four Centering Points): This is the starting point for
most three-dimensional measuring systems
and is the foundation of the system. This is
where Zero Plane, Centerline and Datum
Plane are established. The Underbody setup will establish all the other measurements you will need to properly ascertain if
the vehicle structure is within specifications.
Underhood: The underhood area
measurements will establish if the strut
towers and radiator core support are within
specification, which is absolutely imperative for proper wheel alignment.
Side Structure Openings/
Glass: A vehicle that has side damage
will offset or skewer the pillars, rocker
panel, floor pan and even the roof structure. Measuring this area will ensure that
during the repair process, the center section/passenger compartment is restored
back to the original integrity. The side
structure measurements will also ensure
that the doors will line up properly during
the repair process. Over the past 10 years,
bonded stationary glass has taken a more
active role in the vehicle structural integrity, and the area to bond the glass has
gotten tighter tolerances. Due to the tighter
tolerances, repair technicians are challenged to ensure accurate measurements
New England Automotive Report
January 2009 33
Cover Story
Hurry Up &
image ©istockphoto.com/Slavoljub Pantelic
AASP MA/RI Members React
to New Inspection Program
By Joel Gausten
With a New Year upon them, members of the AASP
MA/RI collision repair and mechanical segments are uniting
to combat ongoing issues like never before. Whether it’s addressing an auto body-related issue like Labor Rate reform or
a mechanical matter like Right to Repair, AASP MA/RI prides
itself on being an association that collectively fights for all
sides of the Massachusetts/Rhode Island automotive community. Now, association representatives are focusing their attention on the state’s newly revised vehicle inspection
program – as well as the lengthy financial waiting game it has
On October 1, Parsons Technologies, the Registry of
Motor Vehicles (RMV) and the Department of Environmental
Protection (MassDEP) ushered in their latest joint project,
“Massachusetts Vehicle Check.” A considerably revamped
version of the state’s previous – and often maligned – emissions inspection system, “Massachusetts Vehicle Check” exempts vehicles made before 1995 from a tailpipe test in favor
of a visual smoke inspection, while 1997 and newer light-duty
diesel vehicles and 2007 and newer medium-duty diesel vehicles will be tested for emissions via OBD computers. Beginning in April, heavy-duty diesel trucks, buses and other
vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or more will receive opacity tests that measure the density of the smoke from their
tailpipes. The $29 inspection fee remains unchanged.
Per the new deal, inspection licenses are distributed to
shops in one of the following six classifications:
Class A. Inspects non-commercial light duty gas and
diesel vehicles 10,000 pounds (GVWR) or less.
Class B. Inspects commercial and non-commercial light
and medium-duty gas and diesel vehicles 26,000 pounds
(GVWR) or less. Can also inspect light-duty pole and
pull-type trailers.
Class C. Inspects all commercial medium and heavy-duty
vehicles over 10,000 pounds (GVWR). Can also inspect
all trailers, semi-trailers and converter dollies.
Class D. Inspects all commercial and non-commercial
light, medium and heavy-duty vehicles. Can also inspect
all trailers, semi-trailers and converter dollies.
Class E. Inspects heavy-duty commercial inspection of
vehicles over 26,000 pounds (GVWR). Can also inspect
all trailers, semi-trailers and converter dollies.
Class F. Conducts mobile inspections for commercial vehicles of all fuel types and weights owned or leased by a
fleet. Can also inspect all trailers, semi-trailers and converter dollies. Mobile inspectors are available by appointment only.
This is all fine and good, but who exactly gets to be selected as part of this new program?
According the program’s official website (www.massvehiclecheck.com), “Massachusetts Vehicle Check” has established a cap of 1,600 public inspection station licenses for
inspecting non-commercial vehicles. This cap is based on the
continued on pg. 37
New England Automotive Report
January 2009 35
Tech Feature
continued from pg. 30
4: Times to Take Measurements
For the Estimate: If the vehicle is not measured during the estimate process, then you are not writing a proper or
complete estimate. The estimate should function as a blueprint,
much like the blueprint used by architects and contractors. It is
the foundation of a good repair. Too many times in the collision
repair shop, estimators feel that a vehicle is a one or two-day
job that can increase cycle time. In some cases, that is correct.
However, the unitized vehicle needs to be measured. The measuring for estimating can easily be done on a two-post lift with
three-dimensional equipment like Car-O-Liner Car-O-Tronic or
other electronic measuring system.
Prior to Repair on the Machine: Once the vehicle is on the structural realignment equipment, it will need to be
re-measured due to a change of the datum measurements. This
will set up a full picture for the structural realignment technician
to plan out how to correctly repair the vehicle and the steps he
will need to take.
During the Repair, Replace, Sectioning Procedures: The repair process will encompass either repairing
and/or replacing structural parts, and those parts will need to be
positioned accurately prior to welding, riveting or bonding them
back on to the vehicle structure. With some vehicle tolerances
near one millimeter in height, length or width, there is little or
no margin for error.
Final Prior to Removal: To ensure proper repairs and
proof to limit liability, the structural realignment technician will
need to print a post-measuring report. This report should be
placed in the work file so that it is easily accessible at a later
date if necessary for proof of structural alignment.
Mass./Rhode Island
Part Two of this article will be featured in an upcoming issue
of New England Automotive Report.
*Additional consultation provided by Dave Demarest, Jr.
Larry Montanez is a former I-CAR Instructor
and is Co-Owner of P&L Consultants with
Peter Pratti Jr. P&L conducts repair workshops
on MIG & Resistance Welding, Measuring for
Estimating and Advanced Estimating Skills.
P&L also conducts investigations for insurers
and repair shops for improper repairs. Montanez is an I-CAR Platinum Individual, I-CAR
Steel WQT, I-CAR Aluminum WQT, I-CAR
Structural WQT, ASE Certified Collision Repair
Estimator, ASE Certified Master Collision Repair/Refinishing Technician, ASE Certified Service Consultant, ASE EPA Reg. 609 A/C
# 80982 MVAC, NYS Independent Adjusters Lic. # 749458, Toyota Prius Collision Trained, SAE Service Development Technical
Committee Member and ASA Educational Member. Peter Pratti
Jr. is an I-CAR Program Instructor who is ASE Certified and holds
certifications in various industry circles such as with Toyota, Spies
Hecker and Chief Automotive. P&L can be reached by contacting
Montanez at (718) 891–4018 or [email protected]
Cover Story
continued from pg. 35
number of workstations that are available
under the program, while there is no limit
on the number of fleet or mobile inspection station licenses. As of last August,
the RMV was capable of managing 1,621
new non-commercial vehicle workstations throughout the state, yet only 1,300
of these stations have been awarded to
shops as of this writing. This figure is of
great concern to AASP MA/RI Board
member and mechanical shop owner
Russ Bradway, who believes that the
state’s registered repair shops are being
unfairly left out in the cold.
“The big complaint that our association has is that they’re not allowing new
stations to come online, which is a big
problem,” he says. “We’re trying to get
the registered repair shops that want to
get into the inspection program now on
it. There was a limit to the number of stations they put online in the old system because the cost of the equipment was so
high; it was to protect the investment
made by those people who spent that
money. But now it’s nine years down the
road, and that equipment’s paid for, so
we’re starting from scratch. There really
shouldn’t be any reason why anyone who
wants to get a sticker license shouldn’t be
allowed to get it if they’re qualified, have
done the training and have the bay size.”
“Ultimately, what we’re trying to do
is get the registered repair shops that
want to get in as inspection stations into
the program as inspection stations,” adds
AASP MA/RI Vice President and fellow
shop owner, Bill Cahill. “Last May, the
DEP and RMV said that we could have
participation if they didn’t get full participation from the current inspection
stations. In other words, they were going
to send out 1,600 contracts; if they didn’t
get them back by a certain date, anybody
on the list would then get a contract and
the first one back wins.”
Unfortunately, things didn’t quite
work out that way. Although Bradway
was one of the first shop owners to get
his name on the waiting list for the new
program, he has yet to receive the final
approval and equipment needed to start
working. And in the current financial climate in the Commonwealth and beyond,
the tick of the clock is becoming harder
to ignore.
“It would cost $50,000 to $70,000 to
be up and running with the old program,
[but] the initial cost for the new equipment starts at around $2,500,” he explains. “People are in a much different
position now than they were nine years
ago. With this economy, you need to hold
onto your customers as much as you can.
If you can do stickers for them by spending $3,000 on a sticker machine, it isn’t a
big deal. It’s like deciding to do air conditioning work and buying a $5,000 air
conditioning recycling machine. It’s not
a big cost factor now to make that business decision, but they’re not letting anybody come online. They seem to be
holding it to the people who had stickers
Of course, there may be considerable
financial advantages to being an inspection station under the new program. In
continued on pg. 44
At Enterprise,
You Always Know
Where You Stand.
There’s a place where the number one priority is you.
That’s why no matter what the season, no matter what
the reason, you can always count on Enterprise.
New England Automotive Report
January 2009 37
38 January 2009
New England Automotive Report
New England Automotive Report
January 2009 39
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40 January 2009
New England Automotive Report
CMARA Update
by Joel Gausten
CMARA Looks Back
on a Busy 2008
For the members of the Central Mass. Auto Rebuilders Association, 2008 was a year to remember.
From substantial success at the ADALB to a strong showing
at the State House, CMARA spent the past year working harder
than ever to secure a stronger collision repair industry. The past
12 months also saw the association increase its partnership with
the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of Massachusetts/Rhode Island (AASP MA/RI) in addressing a variety of industry issues – something that CMARA President Tom Ricci is
quite proud of.
“The most substantial effort we put together was our grassroots movement with AASP MA/RI to really push the Labor Rate
issue, which really came to the forefront last February at the State
House,” he says. “We also had success with AASP MA/RI in getting the Expedited Supplement regulations from the Auto Damage Appraisers Licensing Board with the approval and blessing
of the Division of Insurance.”
Additionally, Ricci joined AASP MA/RI President Rick
Starbard on the special Labor Rate Commission, which was established to explore the possibility of much-needed Labor Rate
reform in the Commonwealth. The commission’s activities included overseeing public hearings held in October and November to allow everyone from independent body shops to insurance
company representatives a chance to present testimony on the
debate. Looking back, Ricci feels the experience was as beneficial as it was arduous.
“Personally, it was very rewarding to be involved with those
discussions, but it was also frustrating to try to make progress in
an environment that some people are resisting any changes to,”
he says. “There are factors out there that are resisting any Labor
Rate increases, so the frustrating part is that we’ve made compelling arguments on why we need Labor Rate reform, and they
continue to try to delay the situation.”
With Insurance Commissioner Burnes’ controversial Managed Competition plan soon approaching its first year of implementation, Ricci views the system with unease.
“There are a lot of uncertainties right now as to what is going
to take place,” he says. “I think we’re looking at two to three
years before we really know what Managed Competition looks
like, except that it’s great for the consumer. Prices are coming
down, and there are a number of companies that are offering ‘accident forgiveness’ at this point.
“On the other side of that, we believe there will be more flexibility to allow the insurance companies to manage themselves in
how they do business,” he adds. “There are homegrown companies in this state that don’t operate anywhere else, and now the
bigger boys are coming to town. The adverse reaction to that
could be that we’ll see more ‘hybrid’ programs or the bigger companies bringing in DRPs.”
As for the road ahead, CMARA plans to continue its efforts
in promoting the industry to tomorrow’s potential technicians.
At press time, the association was finalizing plans to host a special roundtable discussion between CMARA members and educators from area vocational schools.
“The schools need [the industry’s] input to help them better
hold the students and the curriculum together,” Ricci says.
“Things in the schools are totally different than what we see, so
what we’re trying to do is bridge the gap by having an open discussion on what we think we should seeing out of the school in
the way of students, and how we might be able to help the schools
achieve that. We are also trying to find out from the schools what
they need from us, and are keeping our communications open in
order to help both sides of our relationship benefit as much as
With one of the most active times in CMARA’s history now
in the past, Ricci remains steadfast in his belief that the group’s
many goals - especially Labor Rate reform – can be a reality in
the state of Massachusetts in the year ahead.
“In my heart, I’d like to see some rate relief by the end of
2009,” he says. “It is the main focus and the number one issue
that everyone in this industry will face in the coming year. I
would like to see us all do more than just survive in the current
climate. More than that, we are working to ensure that all industry members receive their RROI: A Reasonable Return on Investment.”
New England Automotive Report
January 2009 41
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42 January 2009
New England Automotive Report
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New England Automotive Report
January 2009 43
Cover Story
continued from pg. 37
addition to a drastic decrease in equipment overhead, there is
great potential for inspection-equipped stations to create a
brand new revenue stream – a fact not lost on Cahill.
“I think it has become more economically viable for a number of reasons,” he offers. “Number one, the dynos don’t exist
anymore, so dyno testing vehicles doesn’t exist. The concept
of doing a sticker in 20 minutes or less is now a real possibility. For years, they said we could do a sticker in 20 minutes,
and there was no way you were going to do an inspection
sticker in 20 minutes and walk away with $20.50. It took you
45 minutes to do it [then]; it was a losing proposition with the
“In the last program, the cost of bay space was nowhere
near what the output was,” Cahill continues. “The auto industry had to subsidize the state inspection program. You would
take your bay space, which is worth $120 or $140 an hour, and
turn it into a $40-an-hour space with an overhead of $450 a
month, with the overhead of electricity and cause a complete
collapse in that part of your business. Whether you like it or
not, that’s the truth.”
Additionally, a shop’s ability to perform inspections may
also result in a very welcome side effect – a weapon against
dealerships in the Right to Repair fight. If shops are able to upsell services to inspection customers, the additional income
44 January 2009
New England Automotive Report
could be substantial.
“Right now, one of my customers may go for a sticker
somewhere else, and maybe they also need a tire or their lights
fixed,” offers Bradway. “If they’re already somewhere else getting a sticker, they may just have that work done there. We also
do insurance inspections every single day, and 90 percent of
those drivers also need an inspection sticker, but we don’t do
them here.”
And that is the problem. With the economy on shaky
ground and shops struggling to keep work in their bays, new
faces to the inspection program are seemingly unwelcome. Not
only has the now-infamous waiting list prevented some shops
from securing supplemental cash in grueling times, but it has
forced fully qualified owners like Bradway to send work away
while anxiously awaiting the elusive thumbs up to become an
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As he says, “If someone comes to my shop and says, ‘I
need a sticker,’ I really don’t have a choice but to send them
down the road. It’s not cost-effective for me to take the car,
drive it two or three miles down the road, wait for a sticker,
drive the car back and not make a dollar.”
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New England Automotive Report
January 2009 45
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Clay Subaru................................................31
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Copeland Toyota ........................................29
Dalzell Volvo..............................................46
Empire Auto Parts ......................................16
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Liberty Chevrolet ......................................10
Long Automotive Group ............................26
Mazda Group ............................................13
MetroWest Subaru......................................29
P&L Consulting ........................................31
Quirk GM ..................................................21
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46 January 2009
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New England Automotive Report
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