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Don’t Wait for Waterborne


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.

I recently asked a shop owner if he had switched over to waterborne or low-VOC basecoats yet, and his response took me by surprise.

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“Tailpipe’s this big,” he said, making a circle with his thumb and index finger. “A spray gun nozzle is this big,” he then said, making a much smaller circle. “EPA’s always coming after our industry when it should be going after others.”

I can understand his frustration, but it’s not like the collision repair industry has been the only industry targeted by the EPA to reduce harmful emissions. I suspect he was venting his frustrations about other aspects of the business. I mean, if we all were getting paid the labor rate we should be in 2009, perhaps we wouldn’t have to care so much about the EPA.


For the benefit of those in the industry who still think that waterborne basecoats might be a passing fad, let me say this: they are not. Also, for those who think that mandatory compliance will be confined to the “Left Coast,” let me also say that they’re California dreamin’. Eventually, waterborne basecoats will mandated throughout the entire country.

As is the case with many revolutionary changes in any industry, those forward-thinking and progressive business owners who saw this coming and reacted appropriately will be in the best position to succeed moving forward.


Think about this: those who converted, say, a year ago already have had a full year to broadcast to their markets that they’ve taken a step toward improving the environment. For an industry that heavily relies on differentiation in a cutthroat business environment, this is huge. 

Also, those shops that switched over some time ago have most likely run through any kinks in the process, and their painters have adjusted to the new product. Those who wait will be that far behind them. By all accounts, most shops’ transitions have been very smooth thanks to the training and assistance offered by their paint manufacturers and/or jobbers.   


If you’ve put off waterborne til now, there’s one very easy solution to catching up quickly: attend the 2009 BodyShop Business Waterborne Conference. The conference will be held Aug. 13-14 at Sawmill Creek Resort & Conference Center in Huron, Ohio, which is about 60 miles west of Cleveland. Present will be low-VOC paint and equipment manufacturers eager to dispel any myths you’ve heard about waterborne and show you how their products will increase your productivity and enhance your customer experience.
If they don’t manage to allay your fears, perhaps some of the best minds in the business will. Check out this star-studded cast:


• Popular speaker and successful shop owner Mike Anderson will mix humor, passion and learning discussing his shops’ waterborne conversion and developing SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures).

• Naveen Berry, planning and rules manager for the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), was on the front line of the conversion process in Southern California and will be sharing details of the successful transition.

• Mark Clark, 30-plus year industry veteran and owner of Professional PBE Systems, will discuss the present and future state of the waterborne movement.

• 2009 BodyShop Business Executive of the Year Michael Giarrizzo of DCR Systems will discuss the integration of waterborne basecoats into DCR’s patented, lean-based operations model.


• Tom Horvath, best know for his SYSTEM ONE products used in Jay Leno’s Garage, will share the wealth of knowledge he has gained from spraying waterborne basecoats over the last 10 years.

• Holly Wilson, lead for the EPA’s Community Air Program in the Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, Outreach and Information Division, will discuss the Collision Repair Campaign, designed to help shops come into early compliance with the 6H Rule.

To sign up, call (330) 670-1234 ext. 234 or visit You only have til June 1 to take advantage of early-bird pricing of $49.95, so don’t delay. We look forward to seeing you there!


Jason Stahl, Editor
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