Cover Story: Rollin' to SEMA

Cover Story: Rollin’ to SEMA

The SEMA Show's back at full throttle, and we have the inside track.


Get in gear! November is almost here, and that can only mean one thing: SEMA. And where else would one of the biggest and baddest automotive trade shows be than under the glitz and gleam of Las Vegas?

The SEMA Show offers more than a million square feet of the hottest new cars, vehicle technology, innovative equipment and industry celebrities. As one of the premier automotive specialty products trade events in the world, SEMA brings together the industry’s brightest minds and hottest products in one spectacular event. Attend educational seminars, product demos, social events and networking opportunities, all in one location.

The main focus on the collision side will be the Society of Collision Repair Specialists’ (SCRS) Repairer Driven Education sessions. SCRS Executive Director Aaron Schulenburg explains how the 2015 RDE series has more class offerings than ever before.

“We did a survey of 7,000-plus repairers who participated in the event in the past, and basically got feedback that while we’ve always offered afternoon classes, there’s also a desire for late morning classes. So we added a new timeslot in the mornings on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday of the show,” he said. “That gives us nine additional courses that weren’t previously available. So that’s pretty exciting in that it allows us to open up how many we offered.”

As always, the content got a shake-up as well. With new speakers and subject matter, there’s something to learn at every turn this year at SEMA.

“We always look at each year as it relates to what’s going on in the industry and the trends and how it can address real-world issues that our members in the shops in the industry are facing,” said Schulenburg. “There are a number of [sessions] that focus on technology and things along those lines, both within the OE Collision Repair Technology Summit as well as some of the more technical presentations like Toby Chess going over welding technology, a comprehensive tutorial on modern equipment.”

The Collision Industry Conference (CIC) will also take place during the SEMA Show, Nov. 3-4 from 8 a.m.-12 p.m., at the Westgate Las Vegas Hotel, hosting collision professionals who will be discussing the hottest topics and trends in the industry. A reception will be held on Nov. 3rd at 6:30 p.m.

“When we can all get together in a place like this, see friends from all over the world come in, and get to meet new people who bring ideas and suggestions and input on either things we’re working on or things that we should be working on, that’s my favorite part,” said Schulenburg. “Shows like SEMA give us the opportunity to further forge those personal relationships and connections, and I love that.”


CS_tim-allenLaugh it Up with Tim Allen, Nov. 6-7

Terry Fator Theatre at Mirage Hotel and Casino Funnyman Tim Allen is going back to his stand-up comedy roots. Catch the Home Improvement funnyman and Golden Globe Award-winning actor at the Mirage Hotel and Casino.

CS_hexx-chocolateSavor Some Chocolate at Hexx

Paris Las Vegas

Have a sweet tooth? Head to Hexx, where you can savor chocolate made from scratch in-house. This isn’t your average candy bar, this chocolate is meant to sit in your mouth and be tasted, like wine. But that’s completely OK by us, the longer this chocolate lasts the better.

Get Your Groove on with Train, Nov. 7CS_train

Downtown Las Vegas Events Center

Come hear the soulful tunes of this award-winning rock trio. “Meet Virginia”, “Hey, Soul Sister” and “Drops of Jupiter” are just a few of the chart-topping hits you’ll be rocking out to all night long.

CS_jet-packJet Pack on a Lake, Nov. 6-30

Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch Head to this 8-acre lake to take flight above the water with a real-life, honest-to-goodness jetpack. Make sure to book in advance.



Speed at the Las Vegas Motor SpeedwayCS_richard-petty

7000 N Las Vegas Blvd.

The Richard Petty Driving Experience is a must for any car enthusiast. Choose from an IndyCar, American muscle car or some other wild ride to live out your dreams of putting the petal to the metal, and not getting pulled over.

CS_pork-belly-and-gritsGet Messy at Pot Liquor

CAS Town Square

This BBQ joint has traditional favorites like Kansas City-style burnt ends and Carolina pulled pork. Ready to try something a little different? Try the pork belly with cheese grits and bacon-wrapped meatballs. Our mouths are watering already.


TUESDAY, NOV. 3, 2015

9:30-11:30 a.m.

RDE1 Getting Paid for Investing i­n Facility, Equipment and Training

Tim Ronak, AkzoNobel Automotive and Aerospace Coatings

Repairers are facing significant additional tooling and training to repair modern vehicle construction materials and technology. This session will look at the shrinking Labor Gross Profit percentages due to additional costs of investment in equipment, facility and training. Strategies will be explored to understand the mechanisms at your disposal to offset these rising business costs to justify a return on that capital expenditure. Attendees will learn:

  • What collision industry labor profitability looks like both now and over the last several years
  • Why we need to invest in additional facility, equipment or training and how much total money to anticipate spending
  • How to calculate ROI on the capital investment required, and what return is reasonable to expect
  • What time period should be considered as a payback period for this incremental new investment
  • How to equate the additional capital expense for facility, equipment and training into a reimbursable charge
  • Should the cost be passed on to customers or is it a cost of doing business?

RDE2 Scheduling and Work in Progress (WIP)

Tom Hoerner, BASF Corporation

The purpose of this breakout is to discuss Work in Process (WIP) and to analyze the scheduling process – or lack of – found in many collision repair business environments. The session will dig into the impact that scheduling and workflow have on cycle time and productivity. When the program concludes, attendees will have procedural takeaways that will allow them to begin implementing procedural changes to see performance benefits.

RDE3 Competing with Consolidators

David Luehr, Elite Body Shop Solutions, LLC

This presentation gives the audience a brief look into why MSO consolidators are successful and what you can learn from them to apply at your own shops. Independent collision repairers have many advantages over consolidators that many are unaware of. This presentation will inspire independent collision repairers to take ultimate control of their businesses and make consolidators irrelevant if these techniques are applied.

  • What consolidators are doing right and what you can learn from them
  • Advantages independents have over MSO consolidators
  • What the best independent shops are already doing to succeed in a heavily consolidated market
  • Why owning the customer for life is the best way to brand your business.

11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

FREE1 2015 F-150 Repair Information

Gerry Bonanni, Ford Customer Service Division

Hear directly from a Ford Service Engineer who will present examples of the improved repair elements of the new 2015 F-150, including a look at the separately serviceable lower control arm brackets, the inner fender reinforcements that can be replaced more easily, the floor pan, cross member and rocker panel sectioning opportunities along with the new b-pillar design that can be replaced without disturbing the roof. Other topics covered will be enhanced service information, available training courses and recommended tools and equipment for repairing the 2015 F-150.

12:30-2:30 p.m.

RDE4 Compensation Solutions

Mike Lanza, The Sherwin-Williams Company

This session is designed for shop owners and managers looking to break away from the traditional flat rate pay model. Attendees will learn about creating successful compensation strategies that work in a lean collision repair shop. As a collision repair center owner or manager having the correct compensation plan can be the difference in retaining and attracting the top talent needed in today’s work environment.

Learn how to develop components of an incentive plan that are aligned with the goals of the business:

  • Revenue
  • Profitability
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • The design of the payout structure must be consistent for all employees

RDE5 Paint Shop Performance

John Fagan, PPG Refinish

Advancing technologies in automotive refinish products and equipment available today positions collision centers for exceptional paint shop performance. But even with the exceptional refinish products and the best equipment, profitability in the paint department poses some unique challenges for today’s collision centers. Paint shop performance takes a look into many of the areas that influence paint shop profitability. Participants will learn how to identify areas of opportunity for improvement and quantify those areas in order to prioritize their efforts.

RDE6 Aluminum Damage Analysis and Joining Methods

Larry Montanez, P&L Consultants

This presentation will cover the differences between damage analyses on steel vehicles in contrast to aluminum intensive vehicles. It will explore repair vs. replace decisions on outer panels, structural diagnosis, equipment requirements and joining methods. After this program attendees will have a better understanding of the differences between aluminum and steel vehicles, the different types of joining methods and best practices in analyzing and defining structural damage. A comparison of repairable and unrepairable damages will assist attendees to understand why some damages cannot be repaired. Attendees will also have a better insight into some of the current OEM Certified Programs.

3-5 p.m.

RDE7 Process Driven Collision Repair

Lee Rush, The Sherwin-Williams Company

The process-driven collision repair center features new concepts for the future of collision repair and packs enough technologies, premium materials and innovations to be worthy of our industry’s flagship collision operations. For fans of lean thinking, what’s to come is efficient design, process-driven advanced interface collision operations. By providing the participants with the operational tools necessary to implement a new process into their collision centers, they will be armed with the understanding needed to change the way their companies operate. Upon successful completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Reduce overall shop cycle time
  • Increase vehicle throughput
  • Drive production predictability
  • Improve customer satisfaction

RDE8 Getting it All Right on the Internet in 2016

Mark Claypool, Optima Automotive

Things change so fast online that, before you know it, what you knew yesterday is obsolete today. What makes a website effective? How does search engine optimization work? How do social media and reputation management fit into the mix? What about all those online directories that list my business? How will being effective online bring you cars to fix? Further, video viewing and sharing over the Internet has grown by more than 7,000 percent since 2006! Eighty percent of Facebook videos get “Likes”, 60 percent of people will watch a two-minute online product or service video, videos are 12 times more likely to be shared on Facebook, and 60 percent of people are more likely to watch a video than read text. Review websites and social media accounts and learn how to incorporate video into your overall online presence in order to engage your target audience and gain brand recognition.

RDE9 Understanding Numbers and What They Tell You About Your Growth Opportunities

John Niechwiadowicz, QLC, Inc.

This session will feature discussion of key numbers and the importance of thoroughly understanding your numbers and potentials before investing in equipment, tools, programs or locations. Collision repair businesses will learn how to determine and achieve better return on investment in their market growth opportunities, leading to better profitability. Shops should have a clear understanding of the right numbers to review and be able to develop an ROI plan before investing. It will also explore when businesses should invest, and when they should pass on an investment. All these decisions are made more possible when there is an understanding of and tools to evaluate the market.


9:30-11:30 a.m.

RDE10 The Myths, Mysteries and Fallacies Surrounding Accurate Repair Planning

Bob Gilbert, AkzoNobel Automotive and Aerospace Coatings

RDE11 Removing, Replacing and Joining Advanced Materials

Dave Gruskos, Reliable Automotive Equipment, Inc.

RDE12 The Lean Office – Organizing the Shop Office for Maximum Efficiency

Judy Lynch, The Sherwin-Williams Company

11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

FREE2 Structural Adhesive Bonding: The New Frontier

Shawn Collins, 3M

12:30-2:30 p.m.

RDE13 Don’t Let Consolidators and MSOs Steal Your Insurance Work

Michelle Nelson, B2B Automotive

RDE14 Welding Technologies – A Comprehensive Tutorial on Modern Equipment

Toby Chess, SCRS

RDE15 In-Process Quality Assurance

Lee Rush, The Sherwin-Williams Company

3-5 p.m.

RDE16 Panel Discussion — Our Journey to Become a “Successful” Collision Center

Craig Seelinger, BASF Corporation

RDE17 Advanced and Evolving Automotive Structural Technologies

Ken Boylan, Chief Automotive Technologies

RDE18 Post Repair Inspections (PRI’s)

Larry Montanez, P&L Consultants

THURSDAY, NOV. 5, 2015

OEM Collision Repair Technology Summit

The OEM Collision Repair Technology Summit is one of the most unique networking and learning opportunities available to the collision repair industry, designed to put SEMA show attendees in a room with innovators in automotive structural design and technology. The Summit’s focus is on emerging trends in vehicle construction and technology and how both of those aspects influence vehicle repairability and collision industry preparation.

The presentations will feature companies and individuals with rich histories of producing sophisticated advancements in the automotive and collision repair fields, and will highlight architectural and technological developments in modern vehicles, and how those advancements intersect with the repair process. Every participant in this industry can benefit from better insight into how vehicles and materials are evolving, what that means in the repair process and what will be expected of those who are performing these repairs. The future of our collision repair industry is highly skilled professionals, working on highly sophisticated automobiles that require the industry to embrace the necessary investments in training and equipment; but also relies on informed business owners who understand how to define for themselves what a sustainable and successful business model to support that investment looks like.

Space will be limited, early registration is encouraged. Sessions can be selected individually or as part of the full series pass.

9:30-11:30 a.m.

OEM1 Structural Connectivity — Understanding the Future of Automaker Joining Techniques

A panel of specialists with a variety of backgrounds in automotive joining will discuss the advanced structural joining approaches being used in modern automotive architecture. The panelists will have expertise in riveting, bonding, welding of aluminum, steel and mixed materials, and factory-level joining.

Tech Crunch –The Role of Programming and Diagnostics in Post-Repair Road Worthiness

A panel of automakers, technology specialists and programmers discuss the real world application of vehicle scans, diagnostics and calibrations. These subject matter experts will bring a focus on the technical aspects of vehicle scan code requirements and the role that diagnostic testing plays in repairing vehicles and restoring roadworthiness. Learn why you don’t know what you don’t know if you aren’t performing full system scans.

12:30-2:30 p.m.


Attendees will be treated to a fascinating presentation on technological advancements in aluminum manufacturing, construction and engineering, joining and future advancements that are predicted to be impacting how frequently the material will be present in your repair facility, and how it will be used on automotive bodies. The presentation will include perspectives on how light weighting is driving innovation, and the role repairability plays in aluminum development. Following the presentation, a panel of automakers who utilize aluminum in their vehicle construction will join the presenter on stage to further discuss the real-world application of aluminum structures in vehicle design, vehicle safety and vehicle repairability.

3-5 p.m.


Those familiar with the ongoing substrate battle in automotive light weighting get the sense that the recent release of mass-market aluminum vehicles coupled with the looming governmental expectations for weight reduction are driving major changes and innovations in the steel industry. Aluminum may have been all the rage in collision industry information, but steel continues to be poised to play the most significant role in the automotive footprint for the foreseeable future; although, not necessarily the same steel that the industry is accustomed to. Join our esteemed presenter as he explores the factors driving innovation and research in the steel industry.

11:30-12:15 p.m.

FREE3 Bring Measurements to the Blueprinting Process

Tom McGee, Spanesi Americas

9-12 a.m.

SCRS’ RDE Sky Villa After Party

FRIDAY, NOV. 6, 2015

9:30-11:30 a.m.

RDE19 Protect Your Business From Fines and Disciplinary Actions by the CA Bureau of Automotive Repair

Jack Molodanof, Attorney at Law

RDE20 Optimizing Your Shop Sales Mix

Charlie Whitaker, Valspar Automotive

RDE21 U.S Wage/Hour Compliance Under the FLSA – Are Your Pay Systems Legal?

Cory King, Fine, Boggs & Perkins LLP

11:30 a.m.-2:15 p.m.

FREE4 Repair Planning Considerations for Welded Components

Toby Chess, SCRS

12:30-2:30 p.m.

RDE22 California Wage/Hour Compliance – The Wolf is At the Door, Are You Ready?

Cory King, Fine, Boggs & Perkins LLP

RDE23 Business Financials: Balance Sheets, Income Statements and Cash Flow

Mike Anderson, CollisionAdvice

RDE24 Marketing to, Selling and Servicing Today’s Connected Consumer

Frank Terlep, Summit eMarketing Sherpas

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