3M Announces Military Veteran Collision Shop Professionals Who Will Spend a Race Day with Automotive Designer Chip Foose
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3M Announces Military Veteran Collision Shop Professionals Who Will Spend a Race Day with Automotive Designer Chip Foose

At the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in Texas on Nov. 6, 10 body shop owners and 10 of their veteran employees will join automotive celebrity Chip Foose to celebrate their service and enjoy a day of racing.

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Michael DeVito, manager of ABRA Auto Body and Glass, Peoria, Ariz., and Ben Balkcom, assistant production manager, U.S. Army.

3M Automotive Aftermarket Division announced it is providing the opportunity for body shop owners to recognize their veteran employees with a special trip to the Chase for the NASCARSprint Cup Series race in Texas in November.

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At the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in Texas on Nov. 6, 10 body shop owners and 10 of their veteran employees will join automotive celebrity Chip Foose to celebrate their service and enjoy a day of racing.

“There are so many great veterans doing incredible work in body shops across the country,” said Dale Ross, U.S. Marketing Operations manager at 3M Automotive Aftermarket Division. “We are looking forward to honoring some of those veterans who are making a positive impact on the collision repair industry, and those who have hired them, with a very special weekend in Texas filled with unique behind-the-scenes experiences, opportunities to meet celebrities, drivers and crew members, all at the eighth of the last 10 races in Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in Texas.”

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The winners include:

JoEd’s Customs, Yukon, Okla.
Joe Stults, owner
Brandon Crusha, supervisor/employee, U.S. Marine Corp.

Brandon Crusha and Joe Stults grew up as childhood friends. After high school, Crusha left and served in the Marines and Stults started his business. Crusha was medically retired in 2013 and moved back to Oklahoma and was hired by Stults to work in his shop. During his career as a Marine, he served two tours in Iraq and was awarded a Purple Heart, among several other awards. Being in the Marines taught him self-discipline, punctuality, attention to detail and several other qualities looked for by employers. His military career played a large role in the ways they’ve been able to grow the business, from long days and nights, to crunch time getting ready for SEMA. Stults adds that Crusha has always been up to the task and is an incredible individual. Without him, he says his shop would not operate as efficiently as it does currently, and he believes the management skills acquired from managing several Marines plays a large role in that. Ultimately, he says Crusha is his right hand as the shop owner and without him, running his business would be more difficult.

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ADESA NJ Body Shop, Manville, NJ
Arpit Mankad, manager
Angel Rodriguez, staging coordinator, U.S. Army

Angel Rodriguez is a very important member of the ADESA body shop. The shop’s organization and efficiency is achieved with his efforts. Manager Arpit Mankad says he obviously obtained his organizational skills in the Army. Mankad says Rodriguez is very detail-oriented and knows when there is a job to be done, it gets done ASAP and he always makes sure to follow through with the plan. While the shop doesn’t have a foreman, Mankad says if they did, it would be Rodriguez, offering that he’s the heartbeat of the shop and keeps the shop moving, imperative because they do 35 to 50 cars each day. Rodriguez is a decorated military veteran, serving as Sergeant First Class in the U.S. Army from 1984-2013. He has trained for almost 30 years (including overseas), and he was deployed twice in Desert Storm/Shield from 1990-1991 and Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2004-2005. He has received a Bronze Star for his efforts. His leadership roles while in the Army have obviously helped in his civilian job duties. Mankad says he’s the perfect extension of the assistant manager and himself, and they could not be as successful without him.

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Jordan Automotive Collision Center, Mishawaka, Ind.
Marvin Dawson, manager
Russell Hilbert, technician, U.S. Army

Russ Hilbert has been a valued employee of Jordan Automotive for more than 10 years. Recognized as a leader within the technician ranks at Jordan, Manager Marvin Dawson says he can’t count how many times he has had his fellow employees come to him and share their appreciation for personal and professional guidance they’ve received from Hilbert. He has climbed through the technician ranks over the years to become one of the leading Ford Diesel technicians in the entire Northern Indiana area. His father was a veteran, and he spent many of his younger days traveling around the world as a military “brat.” He would also go out of his way to proudly tell you about his brother, who is a Philadelphia Policeman. Dawson says he could not even start to put an appropriate value to Hilbert as part of his team, noting that he has truly been a game changer for his business and a mentor to so many of his fellow team members.

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ABRA Auto Body and Glass, Peoria, Ariz.
Michael DeVito, manager
Ben Balkcom, assistant production manager, U.S. Army

Ben Balkcom is a retired U.S. Army veteran who joined ABRA earlier this year. He served 17 years in the U.S. Army, with a final rank of Sergeant First Class. He participated in five deployments, three of which were combat tours. During his career in the military, he developed skills and abilities which have proven to be a vital asset to ABRA Auto Body and Glass. Michael DeVito says Balkcom is dependable, punctual, determined and possesses a keen eye for minute detail. The leadership skills acquired during his military service have also been played a critical role in the day-to-day operations of the shop. Since Balkcom began his employment at ABRA, he has put a quality control process in place which has increased the quality of repairs throughout the shop and has helped the production manager increase production overall. DeVito says working with a veteran of 17 years, and listening to his experiences throughout his military career, has been amazingly inspirational to the crew at ABRA Auto Body and Glass in Peoria.

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Rob Wagner Auto Body, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Rob Wagner Sr., owner
Johnathan Joseph, technician, U.S. Marine Corp.

Johnathan Joseph (JJ) was nominated for his time in the Marines and at Rob Wagner Auto Body. Rob Wagner, Sr., says JJ is an excellent employee who always has a smile on face and is up for any task. JJ starting working for him after his time in the Marines. He’s always eager to learn new things and is a team player through and through, which is not easy to find these days. When he was in the Marines and deployed to Afghanistan, he led a team at a forward operating base (one of the last ones). The skills he developed during that time have crossed over into civilian life and have laid a foundation to make him an awesome technician. One ability that really impresses the team at the shop is how he can perform at a high level with a limited amount of sleep, as he recently became a new father! Things that others would use as a crutch or an excuse to not work as hard (or even at all in some cases) he pushes aside and just gets the job done.

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CARSTAR Mundelein, Mundelein, Ill.
Jason Hart, manager
Jeremy Dickerson, body repair technician, U.S Marine Corp.

Jeremy Dickerson is always looking for a solution to a challenge. Jason Hart says he’s the technician that doesn’t have the word “can’t” in his vocabulary. He looks for ways to get problems fixed and is one of those individuals who doesn’t let other technicians look bad. In other words, he understands that, in order to win the battle, you have to work as part of the team, so that the end result is a win for everyone. The quality of his work is superb, a reflection of the pride he takes in his job. He does not have an unkind word to say about anyone and is fiercely loyal to the business. Hart notes that drive, innovation and loyalty are all qualities that the military instilled in Dickerson and make him an outstanding employee and asset to the business.

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Rick Hendrick Collision Center, Portsmouth, Va.
Chad Higginbotham, manager
Richard Lawson, estimator, U.S. Navy

Rich Lawson has an exceptional work ethic and is very determined. Lawson joined the Hendrick team from the Enterprise Rent-A-Car organization and hit the ground running. Chad Higginbotham says his “can-do” attitude brings a special light to the shop. If an issue arises, Lawson is known for tackling it. He is also known for bringing a learning environment to the staff. Lawson spent four years in the U.S. Navy as an aviation boatswain’s mate. He was deployed on the USS Truman twice, (OIF) Operation Iraqi Freedom 2007 and (OEF) Operation Enduring Freedom 2010. Higginbotham credits the Navy as the place where Lawson developed his skill set and problem-solving abilities, and says he brings a cohesiveness and a team atmosphere to the entire shop.

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Greg Cole, manager, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet, Tallahassee, Fla., and Mark Pierce, production management/quality control/dispatch coordinator, U.S. Marine Corp.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet, Tallahassee, Fla.

Greg Cole, manager
Mark Pierce, production management/quality control/dispatch coordinator, U.S. Marine Corp.

Mark Pierce served honorably for seven years and is a medically retired veteran from the U. S. Marine Corps. He was deployed in both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. He was discharged as a SGT (E-5) where, through his training, he developed several essential workplace skills that are vital to the everyday work processes at Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet. Greg Cole says his dedication, perseverance, professionalism and overall enthusiasm to work together as a team to achieve the shop’s goals of success are among his highest qualities of the many he could mention. No matter the situation, Cole notes that he’s always his “go-to” employee because he can be trusted, and he’s confident he will complete the task as requested in the most efficient manner possible. He’s truly a blessing to their staff, and they’re lucky to have him there.

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Brown Collision Center, Charlottesville, Va.
Christian Kozub, manager
Marcus Tinsley, body shop manager, U.S. Air Force

Christian Kozub says, as a collision center director with 46 employees in a very busy shop, it’s vital to have the right person in place to help manage the operations to maintain quality and customer satisfaction. Kozub, who also served in the military, says Marcus Tinsley’s military experience in the U.S. Air Force has given him leadership skills, organization skills and a work ethic to get the job done right, and in a timely manner. He also notes that he’s able to rally the staff and work as a team to meet daily demands, and his military background and military mentality comes out and helps their people want to be better.

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M&M Auto Body, Worcester, Mass.
Michael Buckley, owner
Shannon Buckley-Eca, office manager and technician, U.S. Army

Shannon Buckley-Eca was nominated by her father for her hard work, talent and special attention to details. Although suffering an injury during a rappelling exercise and having to be medically discharged from the U.S. Army in 2007, she has never let that hold her down. Michael Buckley says he’s very proud to see the woman she has become. She’s dedicated to always striving to do better in every aspect of her life.

As part of the weekend and to show support for the 3M Hire Our Heroes program, Foose designed a commemorative custom hood. Foose offered his thoughts creating the special hood and the 3M Hire Our Heroes program: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzpPh0ftyUw&spfreload=10

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3M AAD’s pledge to help veterans has seen great success. Through a partnership with the Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF), 3M has donated more than $750,000 since 2013 which has been used toward scholarships and tool grants for nearly 210 military veterans and their families through the 3M Hire Our Heroes program.

For more information on the 3M Hire Our Heroes campaign, contact Dale Ross, 3M Automotive Aftermarket at [email protected] or visit www.3mcollision.com/hire.

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