Ed Bozarth Collision Center navigates tech tsunami and doubles sales volume
Denver—In the five years since Jim Pugh took over as collision center director at Ed Bozarth Chevrolet in Aurora, the facility has doubled its monthly sales volume, going from $200,000 to $400,000. And while Pugh is proud of those numbers, he’s already looking ahead for training and partnerships that will foster continued success as the shop navigates what he calls the “technological tsunami” hitting the collision industry right now.
“Collision center owners and managers are pressed more than ever to keep their staff trained and ensure the shop adapts quickly to new trends,” Pugh said. “I’ve managed dealership collision facilities in Colorado for the past 17 years and the technology in vehicles today is the most disruptive I’ve seen.”
Pugh said he made significant strides in 2018, most recently by attending the SEMA show to shop for new aluminum repair equipment.
“The 2019 Chevy Truck has an aluminum hood, fenders, doors and tailgate, so we’re investing approximately $15,000 in equipment and training this year to become aluminum certified. The equipment and training will also open doors for us to be able to repair some of the German luxury imports as well as the Ford F-150s.”
Despite being aligned with Ed Bozarth Chevrolet, the collision center works on all makes, all models. So, just like an independent collision repair facility, the shop is striving to meet requirements of each manufacturer’s OE repair procedures as a way forward, beginning with GM.
“GM announced that it will begin using the OnStar system on its vehicles to recognize when a customer has been in a collision and start calling customers immediately after the accident. They’ll first offer emergency assistance, then immediately begin the process of repair by offering to get the vehicle towed to the closest GM-certified collision center,” Pugh said. “I think we’ll start seeing other manufacturers do the same thing so it’s going to be vital to be trained and OE-certified going forward.”
Pugh said the shop continues to have solid relationships with its DRPs, and is a Progressive Network collision shop with an average cycle time of eight days, currently booked two weeks out. It is “on the road” to becoming an I-CAR Gold Class shop and striving to earn OE certifications for many makes and models through the Assured Performance Network.
GM dealership advantage, investment in Mitchell Diagnostics
Pugh said there are many advantages of operating a collision center that is affiliated with an OE franchise dealership, the first being that it has access to GM information systems and databases as well as a service center with factory-trained technicians right next door.
“We have three dedicated front end technicians in our dealership’s 52-bay service department and during the winter months we rely on them for repairs on control arms, tie rod ends, knuckles, bearings and alignments. Also, say we have to put a frame rail in, we’ll ask the service department to pull the engine out of the vehicle for us. We have them work on air conditioning and airbag repairs, or front end component replacement – it’s a huge advantage for us and helps us manage our cycle times.”
The collision center recently invested in a Mitchell Diagnostics scan tool, built by Bosch Automotive Service Solutions in collaboration with Mitchell, for all of its pre- and post-scanning, which Pugh said the shop does on every vehicle. The tool operates on a cloud estimating platform and is wirelessly connected to the cars ECU, so the shop is able to use it to prepare estimates and recalibrate ADAS systems on some makes and models.
“GM requires us to use the Mitchell 1 estimating system. All the OE repair procedures are filtered through Mitchell and are an essential step in preparing an accurate estimate. The Mitchell Diagnostic scan tool has been exceptional; it simplifies the process because preparing the estimate and doing a pre-scan are no longer mutually exclusive processes – it’s all one long step.”
He said another advantage is that the company has an in-house PDR technician, Hector Sotelo. “Having Hector here is just an added advantage – we can make less intrusive repairs on minor hail damage and small door dings.”
Switch to BASF; Capital Paint and Refinish training
The shop has three paint booths, two down draft and one Chinook which was installed three years ago by John Baker Sales and required a $100,000 investment. Pugh said John Baker modified the booth to make it wider and longer to fit the shop’s application and continues to service it as needed.
Pugh also recently switched to spraying BASF’s Glasurit waterborne paint for its quality and his relationship with the local distributor, Capital Paint and Refinish.
“Troy Fallows is our rep at Capital Paint and Refinish and I’ve had a relationship with him for 25 years,” Pugh said. “The company gives extensive personalized service and gets very involved. They know our business as well as we do and they also offer exceptional training opportunities for my staff. This month we’re sending some of our body technicians to training they’re offering in Colorado Springs. We’re also looking into having them come to our facility and do an assessment to help us find opportunities to become leaner.”