Malone’s strikes moving target of industry challenges by adapting to change

Salinas, Calif.—Malone’s Collision Repair Co-owner Joe Malone said today’s collision industry requires an ability to adapt and a willingness to evolve.

“Training, tools, and responsibilities continue to evolve,” he said. “New vehicles bring new materials, and new materials require new tools, training and procedures. It’s all just part of the job.”

Changing demands of DRPs play another major factor. “Our role continues to change as insurance companies change programs and requirements. State Farm’s PartsTrader program is the perfect example. Shops must adapt to new requirements or change DRP programs to find partners that better suit them,” Malone said.

Having the latest training and equipment can help a shop stand out in the crowd, he said. “My lead estimator, Juan Rivera, is in charge of keeping our staff up on training. We have four I-CAR Platinum technicians, Juan is a platinum estimator, Sal Medina is our steel structural platinum tech, Eduardo Ruiz is platinum non-structural, and Manual Telles is our platinum-certified painter. Training is an ongoing investment just as tools and equipment are.” 

How to motivate and enhance the skills of employees is another area that continues to evolve, he said. “If a shop wants to do the best work possible, they’ll need the best people doing the job. Providing techs the best tools, training, and equipment sends the message that you want them to succeed.”

When employees take advantage of training opportunities it shows they care about the work they do and are eager to improve their craft. “People want to enjoy what they do, and training builds confidence and camaraderie. A happy shop floor is a productive shop floor,” Malone said.

After 20 years in business Malone, along with his wife and co-owner, Vanessa, built a ground-up 12,000-square-foot facility in 2008. It features two heated downdraft booths and three Chief frame machines that share a Velocity measuring system. The welding is done with Pro Spot and the air for tools and spraying is provided by a Keiser Dry Air system. “Joel Smith of PFC laid out the facility and moved our original booth,” Joe Malone said. “Our floor plan is still in use today. Our latest addition was a second Spray Zone heated downdraft booth last year. Joel’s original design not only is efficient but allowed for growth, so when we added our second booth it dropped right in.”

As an independent business, he said he prefers being ahead of the curve rather than behind the eight ball, and that includes refinish products. With the mandate on the horizon, Malone made a decision to move to PPG waterborne seven years ago. Malone’s keeps up on the latest refinish products with support of its supplier, FinishMaster, and their representative James Lopez, he said.

The tools, training, and camaraderie apply to his front end as well. Having Rivera coordinate the training helps bind the front and back, he said, and both Rivera and Telles will be attending PPG training to add another layer to their abilities and training.

The front end uses the latest version of CCC ONE to keep the paper flowing, and Malone’s is using the tablet function to great success. “It’s easy — take a photo of the VIN, the vehicle door tag, and the license plate and you’ve already got what used to take a half an hour,” he said. “Files can be updated, parts ordered, and the customer and insurance carrier updated. Evolution and new technology have to be embraced to remain relevant as a business.”

Malone is also committed to his community and his church. “My biggest support group are my friends, family, and Pastor Mike Larda at First Presbyterian Church. I work with the Celebrate Recovery program supporting people having issues facing life’s challenges including family issues and substance abuse.

“Nothing is more important than family,” Malone said. “I started in my mother’s garage while still in high school. It was her understanding and support that led us to where we are today. We take pride in our employees and the relationship we have with them and their families. We cannot do our job without them and their well-being is part of our responsibility as owners.” 

Malone’s is also the major sponsor for Recycle-A-Ride Salinas. The promotion is run by KION television in Salinas and is done live on-air to the surprise of the recipient. With the local news promoting the program, the response has been overwhelming, he said. “We’ve done this twice and it’s been an incredible experience,” Malone said. “We had more than 400 applications, making it difficult to narrow down. The local news and people of the community have gotten behind the program and everyone is excited for the program to grow.”

Parts & People

Parts & People is published monthly by Automotive Counseling and Publishing Company, Inc., a Colorado corporation, P.O. Box 18731 Denver, CO 80203, 303-765-4664. President-Lance Buchner. Founded by Lance Buchner and Dave Lucia.

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