Consultant Larry Montanez to Cover Aluminum Repair, Quality Control at SEMA - BodyShop Business
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Consultant Larry Montanez to Cover Aluminum Repair, Quality Control at SEMA

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Jason Stahl has 28 years of experience as an editor, and has been editor of BodyShop Business for the past 16 years. He currently is a gold pin member of the Collision Industry Conference. Jason, who hails from Cleveland, Ohio, earned a bachelor of arts degree in English from John Carroll University and started his career in journalism at a weekly newspaper, doing everything from delivering newspapers to selling advertising space to writing articles.

Larry Montanez is downright giddy when you talk to him about how he will be presenting educational sessions at Repairer Driven Education (RDE) for the fourth straight year.

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“I always get a lot of participation in my class,” he says. “Based on feedback that [SCRS Executive Director] Aaron Schulenburg has gotten, they asked me to do two classes instead of one. And I’m more than happy to as the SEMA Show is the largest, most well attended auto body show in the country. And SCRS has been doing a fantastic job at promoting RDE.”

The two sessions Montanez will be teaching are “Aluminum Repair Procedures, Techniques and Requirements” (Tuesday, Nov. 4, 12:30-2:30 p.m.) and “Check Yourself – Departmental Quality Control to Prevent Incorrect Repairs” (Thursday, Nov. 6, 12:30-2:30 p.m.). Montanez feels both of these topics are important to address in today’s changing repair environment.

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“There’s a lack of education in the industry, not only on training but individual state laws. Most shops don’t know their rights or consumer’s rights,” says Montanez. “Unfortunately, this is causing an epidemic of incorrect repairs in the country right now. Additionally, vehicles are much more difficult to repair now due to advanced materials and engineering, but the industry is fooled into thinking that quicker repairs have to be done. Thirty years ago, you could fix most of the damage to panels because they were mild steel. Then, you replaced the chrome components and no one mentioned cycle time or rental time. So cars have advanced, but we seem to have taken away time. The industry wants it done like an oil change.”

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As far as aluminum goes, Montanez says there is a lot of misinformation flying around the industry, and he hopes to clear that up in his talk.

“It’s really sad that while the industry is talking about this and wants to talk about it, they’re hearing statements about aluminum being new, but it isn’t. It has been around since the early 1920s and ’30s on many vehicles and through the ’70s sporadically. Audi and BMW came out with it in 2004 on mainstream cars. And after years of people not listening to the Germans talking about aluminum, saying it’s never going to happen, it’s now out on the Ford F-150.”

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Montanez feels one carmaker is downplaying the importance of aluminum repair and the training and tooling necessary, while others who have been putting out aluminum vehicles for a long time are contradicting them – one reason there is misinformation out there, Montanez believes.

“You have one manufacturer who is recommending curtains, but Mercedes – with their Elite 2 program – are saying you have to have a clean room with three walls, a roof and a floor where you can have the front open and put a curtain there. And then you have shops in the Audi program that bought curtains but now are hearing the automaker advising to switch to a clean room.”

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Montanez also mentioned the five or six different rivet guns and four different kinds of welding wire (two different sizes) required by seven or eight manufacturers of aluminum vehicles, the appropriate welders, etc. These are all the things he will cover in his presentation.

Asked if he feels that one day, 100 percent of shops will be able to repair aluminum vehicles, Montanez said it’s an impossible situation.

“Currently, 100 percent of shops can’t repair steel monocot cars properly. My opinion is that only 20 percent of shops can,” Montanez says. “Aluminum is not hard, but it’s very different. Comparing it to steel is like comparing baseball to football. Because it’s very different, it becomes difficult or impossible because of human nature and the fact that people don’t like to change. Unfortunately, though, over the next four to five years, you will see some mainstream cars that will turn aluminum.”

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Even though Montanez has been going to the SEMA Show for years, he still maintains a child-like excitement for it.

“I’ve seen it grow bigger and bigger each year from a body shop perspective in the RDE area. It’s kind of like Sturgis or Daytona in the motorcycle field where there are big announcements by Harley and Indian. RDE is where all the big announcements are made from SCRS, CIC, the OEMs and I-CAR. I’m seeing a lot more people from my area on the East Coast coming to SEMA, too.

“SEMA is great for the industry in the way it’s run and done. There are multiple situations for people to have social meetings and business meetings and meet up with people we’re in contact with via social media. Plus, there are lots of great products and demos. Aaron [Schulenburg] has put together with his board a good, wide range of classes between mechanical, electrical and collision repair. And not just collision but metallurgy, frame classes, etc., usually put on by the most respected and educated instructors in the field.”

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More information:

To register for the SCRS RDE sessions, click HERE.

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