The Mountlake Terrace, Wash., training center is also the BASF training center for Washington state.Wesco sales and technical representatives test the productivity and longevity of various sandpapers.Equipped with the latest in equipment, the Wesco training center in Mountlake Terrace, Wash., resembles a modern collision repair center.I-CAR, insurance companies, and other collision repair industry groups have an “open pass” to use the training center.

Training is critical part of business culture at Wesco

Expert-level training for paint and equipment extends to operational enhancements for existing customers

Lynnwood, Wash.—As part of its commitment to being a partner in its customers’ success, Wesco has understood from the start how vital training is in operational improvement, said Jay White, operations manager. So it provides a number of options, including in-shop training, partnering with career centers in the area of its 70-plus locations in the western U.S., and its own training centers centers in its Mountlake Terrace, Wash. (also the BASF training center for Washington state), and Mesa, Ariz., distribution centers.

“We try to make sure training is convenient for our customers’ schedules and to keep production going,” White said. “We give our customers a lot of options and bring solutions close to them so that everyone can get to training without a lot of travel.”

It’s probably a given that a PBE jobber is expected to keep shops apprised of the latest in refinish technology, such as UV primers, but there are other things that are changing and are even more critical to the repairer, said Sales Manager Jason Jamison, such as scan tools, ADAS  recalibration, welders, and what’s required to repair the car safely and back to OEM standards.

 “At Wesco, it is our goal to keep current on the latest processes and equipment in this rapidly and ever-changing industry and to equip our customers with the best solutions to do their repairs,” Jamison said. “We have equipment guys who solely focus on welders, frame equipment, and measuring systems. And we have those at our facility for demonstrations and training. We’re also staffed to do onsite body shop equipment training.”

Wesco keeps up to date with its association with manufacturers, including sending representatives to factory training, though White stressed that the company prides itself on its group of experienced craftsmen who enjoy sharing their knowledge and experience, including in exacting German OEM certification programs.

“With our reputation, we draw in some of the top people. Our paint techs who are out training are super-successful, highly productive painters, but they just want to slow down and enjoy life a little more, and they have fun teaching. Our trainers and equipment salespeople are very knowledgeable in their fields.”

In working with their customers, Wesco sales representatives and technicians learn what issues a customer may have so they can suggest solutions and direct training efforts.

“Our technicians will go to a facility for a simple refreshing and to see how the shop is operating,” Jamison said. “Then we’ll go in and take a look from the very beginning of how the car is processed and brought in, how the repair plan is  looked at, and as we do that, we will also take a look at what their prep process is, and how they’re loading the booths. We measure how much material they’re using per repair and what process they’re using to get the right color the first time so they’re not mixing multiple colors for a single vehicle.”

After establishing a baseline measurement, the Wesco team will review improvements with the owner or manager, typically daily in addition to a review of the before-and-after measurements that show improvement.

“The big thing is to be able to measure it and prove you made a change. We typically track hours produced and the cost of material per repair, and at the end of the period, the majority of the time you end up seeing an increase in production, as well.” 

‘Open pass’ for in-house training center

The in-house Wesco training center in Washington, established in the early 1990s, resembles a modern collision repair facility, with spray booths, frame machines and measuring systems, an aluminum repair station, and “probably 20 or 30 welders of different types,” White said.

“We have the latest, greatest equipment for everyone to see, touch, and play with, if we need to.”

A new high-tech training facility is expected to be complete by the end of the year, a short walk away in the 55,000-square-foot distribution center Wesco bought about four years ago. The new training center will increase to 7,000 square feet square feet, with twice as many classroom seats.

Wesco representatives share I-CAR training schedules with their customers to make sure they’re aware of upcoming classes, and I-CAR uses the facility for training.

White said he works with the organizations to make sure equipment is in place to support the training being presented, and for training of structural measurement and repairs, it has arranged for a short-term loan of a wrecked vehicle.

“We open our doors to insurance companies doing industry training. Our goal is to educate the masses; we don’t hoard it for ourselves. We do anything and everything we can to support I-CAR and any other organizations to help make this industry better. They have an open pass anytime they want.”

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.