KABA president pushes for more collision industry communication
Wichita, Kan.—Jeff Oldenettel had a busy year in 2018. As collision services team leader of Eddy’s Body Shop, he manages 30 employees in two locations, which serve 10 storefronts in the Eddy’s and Steven dealership groups. He also helped lead the effort to form the Kansas Auto Body Association (KABA), serving as its first president. And at the end of the year, seeing a need for additional training in his area, he helped form a Wichita I-CAR committee.
As vehicles have become more complex, the need for education has never been greater, he said. Helping to illustrate that point, KABA’s first event, in May, was a presentation by Todd Tracy on the importance of proper repairs. Tracy, the Texas attorney in the $42 million Honda Fit/John Eagle Collision Center lawsuit, spoke to a crowd of more than 300. KABA has since held an education day in Salina and a few local estimating roundtables.
Oldenettel has big plans for the association’s feature event this year, a trade show in Wichita, April 26 and 27, which will be headlined by Mike Anderson of Collision Advice. He also expects to feature 15 local and national vendors.
“Our goal is to make ourselves better through education and to be able to access the information at a local level, instead of having to fly wherever to get it,” he said. “The better we communicate among ourselves, the better we are able to repair cars, and the better we are able to take care of the customer.”
After being in the collision repair business for 20 years, Oldenettel said he’s been frustrated that collision repairers feel they can’t talk with each other and share ideas, that “the guy down the street can’t be my friend.
“But there’s enough work for everybody, if we do it right. If you were a doctor and you went to a conference with other doctors, you would all sit around and talk about the latest and greatest procedures.”
Bringing I-CAR training to Wichita and KABA members
Oldenettel praised I-CAR’s new flat-rate subscription pricing option for Gold Class shops, which makes training affordable for large shops such as his. But he has had some difficulty getting the needed classes scheduled in his area, which meant three or four trips to Manhattan or Topeka in the third quarter.
In early 2019, he hopes to have remedied some of that problem by having formed the Wichita I-CAR chapter, for which he had help from Becky Taylor, manager of the Laird Noller Collision Repair Center in Lawrence, and president of the Topeka I-CAR chapter. Similarly, through KABA he is helping members get needed I-CAR training.
“If one shop calls from Colby, Kansas, and says, ‘We can’t get this class out here,’ that doesn’t mean that much to a big company. But if the Kansas Auto Body Association calls and says, ‘I’m hearing this collectively from multiple shops in multiple towns across our state that we need to fix this,’ and that’s what we did. To I-CAR’s credit, they hear us now. The answer’s not there yet, but we’re working on it.”
OEM certifications becoming larger part of Eddy’s business
With the number of new-car marques his shop serves, OEM certification is a growing part of the business. At press time, Eddy’s has certification through Assured Performance for FCA, Hyundai, Kia, and Infiniti; is Volvo-certified; and is nearly complete with certification for Subaru and Toyota, with Volkswagen to follow in the near future. On the horizon are certifications for GM’s new program, for which he has applied, and that will be closely followed by Ford certification.
OEM information is necessity for proper repairs
With greater ADAS adoption and changing substrates, it’s imperative that repairs are performed in the shop only after researching the OEM repair information, Oldenettel said. For estimates, the vehicle damage analysts use CCC Repair Methods, but as factory data is updated more quickly, OEM information is used at the time of repair planning to ensure the most current information is used.
Every vehicle is scanned coming in and going out, regardless if the shop is paid for the procedure. Eddy’s uses OEM or Mitchell Diagnostics scan tools, where appropriate, and Oldenettel said the shop “is waiting for an asTech, as well” for brands for which the group is not a dealer.
“If we can’t run the diagnostics on it, we send it to the dealer, every time,” he said.
Quality Control Researcher Elaine Morrow researches the OEM repair information to see what procedures may be needed on the car for each repair, because what was prescribed last week may have changed this week, even for the same make and model. That information is then saved in the vehicle’s repair file.
“If the repair is scrutinized 10 years down the road, we have the burden of proof to show how ‘We fixed it this way, and here’s why.’”