O’Meara acquires Ford certification and equipment for new aluminum F-150
Northglenn, Colo.—O’Meara Ford Collision Center Manager John Scaff is not just expecting growth in 2015 — his 50,000-square-foot shop is already scrambling to keep up.
“Right now, we repair 50 cars per month and have 100 cars waiting on the lot at any given time. But we just became a DRP for Progressive, so those numbers are going to increase,” Scaff said.
Progressive told Scaff when he was accepted as a DRP that it would take at least 90 days to get the hang of things, which he said has proved to be true. For one, the shop was required to start using Mitchell International for its DRP repair jobs, which meant installing and learning an entirely new management system (although he said they still use CCC One for every other job).
Another challenge has been maintaining the required 3.4 hours-per-day average on cycle times, Scaff said. Because the shop handles all makes and all models, he sometimes doesn’t know what to expect when Progressive puts a job order through, or whether parts will be available for a particular make and model coming in. Regardless, Progressive still demands that its average hours per day on cycle times be met, he said.
“DRPs can be a double-edged sword,” Scaff said. “I just hired three more people to handle the influx of work we’re beginning to see, but a lot of maintaining cycle times comes down to sourcing parts from suppliers with a wide inventory who can deliver quickly. If Progressive sends me a 2014 model needing repair, which may have back-ordered parts that are hard to get, my cycle-time clock is still ticking, no matter how long it takes those parts to arrive.”
O’Meara does have the advantage of being a Ford dealer, with $2.5 million worth of inventory in stock at its facility. But Scaff said partnerships with certified suppliers for makes and models outside his main line are increasingly important because it isn’t always his choice as to which parts he buys.
“If it’s my choice, I always install OE parts, but sometimes I have to go with aftermarket parts to appease the insurance company. In that case, we source only certified aftermarket parts from LKQ, Certifit Inc., or the Professional Parts Group (PPG),” Scaff said.
The shop has benefited from having its own paintless dent removal system (PDR) and PDR technician in-house, especially in 2014 because of a series of hailstorms.
“We saw a huge surge in business last year,” he said. “Our in-house PDR system and technician have been huge assets in handling hail-damaged vehicles, which are still coming in quite frequently.” The shop sprays DeBeer waterborne paint, and has two downdraft paint booths with bake ovens, one a Garmat, the other a DeVilbiss. Scaff said he sources all of his painting materials from Specialized Products Supply in Golden.
Backed by Ford, O’Meara is certified for aluminum repair
O’Meara pays for its technicians to attend I-CAR training, and Scaff said he requires all his technicians, and most of his estimators, to be ASE-certified and I-CAR Gold designated professionals, with some experience, before he hires them. Such demanding requirements make finding “heavy hit” technicians difficult, especially today.
“I’m having issues with finding good body technicians, or even disassemblers, just like everybody else,” he said. “But all my current technicians have completed the required six hour I-CAR aluminum training course on the 2015 F-150 and are I-CAR designated professionals. We took a whole Saturday and attended the I-CAR seminar on the new F-150 at Aims Community College in Windsor, and now we’re just waiting for the truck to arrive,” Scaff said.
O’Meara also invested $100,000 in tools and equipment to become a certified body shop within Ford’s National Body Shop Network. Scaff said they’ve purchased a Global Finishing Solutions (GFS) curtain to create a dedicated aluminum room, a Eurovac II for cleaning up aluminum dust, the new ProSpot PR-5 rivet gun, and a fully equipped ProSpot Welding Station, which includes a portable welding cart, welders, and all accessories necessary for aluminum dent pulling.
Ford Engineering rep, Brian Tennal, has guided O’Meara through the requirements of becoming certified for Ford’s new aluminum program, and he helped make sure they received a 20-percent discount on tools and equipment by buying through Ford’s Rotunda equipment division, Scaff said.
Scaff sources all his shop equipment from KLC Automotive Equipment, in Bailey, which he said has also been a great partner for continuous training as O’Meara continues to attract new business and hire new employees.
“Our sales rep at KLC, Randy James, has been very helpful. When one of my newer techs wasn’t familiar with the Chief Genesis straightening system we use, I called James and he set up a training course to bring the new tech up to speed,” Scaff said. “Those types of value-added services and that training assistance from suppliers are incredibly helpful in keeping a partnership going.”
To keep up with increasing demand, Scaff said he’s looking to hire five new employees this year, including two new technicians and three more disassemblers, which would bring his total staff count to 21.
“O’Meara celebrated its 100th year in business in 2014. It’s a stable business in Colorado and it has a great reputation that keeps business coming in. And now, being accepted as a DRP for Progressive, we’re going to need more people to handle the workload,” Scaff said.