For a little over a month now, we’ve been following the saga of Fox Collision Centers. How embarrassing! It’s like a bad train wreck that you can’t pull your eyes from. This story line gets more and more tragic with each passing day, and not in a way that makes you the least bit compassionate for Mr. Fox.
Initially, when the story first broke that Fox would be closing his collision repair empire of 18 shops spread across three states, we were led to believe that insurance DRPs killed this once thriving operation. Visions of the mob scene from the Mel Brooks classic “Young Frankenstein” played in my head as I received phone calls and talked to various industry folks about the grand injustice that had befallen Fox. Why, Fox even penned a “Letter to the Industry,” which was published verbatim by a few media outlets serving the industry (thankfully, though, not in this publication), that detailed his demise but offered hope for the future as he proclaimed he was “stepping down in order to step up”!
As you reach the last paragraph of his four-page, 2,100-word sermon, you finally discover that Fox’s idea of “stepping up” is a Web site called BodyShopRehab.com. If you visit that site today, you’ll find that it’s basically just a portal for links to things like rental cars, exotic car dealers and, yes, even insurance companies. Gee, thanks, Mr. Fox. With rehab like this, I’ll know not to ruin my next 18-year scotch by plopping an ice cube or two into it!
All kidding aside, this is an absolute embarrassment for our industry. Since he announced the closing, Fox has not made himself available for comment or any other purpose (like paying his former employees what they’re owed). Trust us, we’ve tried. So has the local Tulsa ABC news affiliate KTUL and various other media outlets across Oklahoma and Colorado (where Fox was found to have fled after the closing). For someone who claims (quite loudly and openly) to have been victimized by insurance company fraud and deception, you would assume he would have jumped at the opportunity to tell his sad story to thousands (if not millions) of sympathetic listeners if not for moral support, than at least to launch his noble crusade against the dastardly insurance regime.
The sad reality of Fox’s charade is that hundreds of employees have been left stranded with no job and very uncertain futures. In addition, creditors/suppliers are probably out thousands of dollars. I don’t know all of the facts surrounding this debacle, but how could I (or anyone, for that matter)? I only know that by running, hiding and avoiding scrutiny and attention that could benefit him, Fox has relinquished every ounce of credibility he may have held when he chose to close his multi-million dollar operation and proclaim to the world why he felt he had to do it. By doing so, he has tarnished the reputation of collision repairers nationwide and our industry as a whole.
Here’s an “open letter” to you, Mr. Fox: Do what’s right, return to your business and finish the task of closing your shops properly and fulfilling all the commitments that go along with this unfortunate circumstance. Save yourself and the industry you’ve earned a living from the embarrassment of your lapses in judgment.