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Talkin’ Shop in Cincy

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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.

They sure do eat well in Cincinnati.

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During my and Managing Editor Mike Peltier’s daylong visit to Elite Collision Service in Cincinnati last month, it was pecan squares the size of fuel doors for breakfast, Papa John’s pizza for lunch and, for a mid-afternoon snack, “cheese coneys” from Gold Star Chili. General Manager Phil Mosley said the cheese coneys were from a client and Gold Star Chili franchisee who traded them for the installation of designer gas pedal and brake pedal covers. Obviously, Mosley knows a good barter when he sees one.

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In between gorging ourselves silly, Mike and I learned a lot about painting, sanding, frame straightening and other collision repair procedures by assisting the real pros who perform those duties every day. We also learned a little bit about Elite Collision Service itself and how it truly takes quality and craftsmanship to heart.

“We subscribe to the German philosophy of the way the car is built,” said Mosley. “The car is designed to be repaired, and when it’s repaired as designed to be, it performs and functions as it did originally.”

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Mosley said his shop also takes a lot of pride in doing everything possible to make its repairs invisible. He cited one example of a Mercedes station wagon his shop repaired that belonged to a woman whose son-in-law was a mechanic. Just for kicks, the son-in-law took apart the car after the repair and, to his amazement, absolutely couldn’t tell where or how it was repaired.

“A lot of insurers say this isn’t a cosmetic panel or it’s a non-appearance panel so no one sees it, or it gets covered with trim so we don’t care if you don’t straighten it properly,” Mosley said. “But we want it so that if you have to take off the trim, you won’t be able to tell that we’ve been there. The last thing I want is someone to see it and say to the car owner, ‘Goldang, what happened to your car?’”

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Quite the opposite kind of job arrived at Mosley’s shop that day. The owner had come in complaining that, ever since taking it in for work at another shop, the alarm would go off and doors would open randomly. As we inspected the car, it became apparent that this was no possessed vehicle from a Stephen King novel but rather the victim of an improperly installed rear windshield. The glass wasn’t even in contact with the urethane on the upper left corner, and water had leaked in directly onto the vehicle’s rear computer components and ruined a Sirius radio antenna. The shop the customer had originally taken his car to was a DRP shop. Elite Collision Service, however, has no DRPs.

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“The DRP philosophy doesn’t mesh with ours,” said Mosley. “We do have one carrier asking us to join its DRP to handle its exotics – Ferrari, Lotus, Rolls – and we really want to do it because this particular carrier’s approach to repairs is consistent with our model. The deal breaker for us is the indemnification clause, which is present in all DRP agreements. It would require us to indemnify the insurance company against all harm and perils, and our garagekeeper’s liability carrier just didn’t sign up for that risk. If our garagekeeper’s liability carrier found out that we had agreed to indemnify another insurance company in a DRP agreement, it would drop our coverage completely. So even if we manage to find a good fit in a DRP relationship, we just can’t do it at the risk of exposing ourselves to unnecessary liability.”

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That sort of thinking is shared by other members of the US Alliance of Collision Professionals (USACP), a new association headquartered in Cincinnati. As president, Mosley leads the group in aggressively educating consumers on their rights as insureds, claimants and policyholders, as well as on technical issues. He emphasizes the group is open to all.

“The ‘US’ in our name stands in part for ‘all of us,’” said Mosley. “So, although our membership is primarily based in Ohio, if someone from another state can benefit from membership, we would welcome them.”

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Mosley hopes this invitation will further advance industry unity, the lack of which he says is “profound” right now but getting better.

“I’m glad to see a groundswell of movement in that direction, but I think it needs to be nurtured so it grows. Overcoming our lack of knowledge of our rights and our lack of unity is one way we can address the interference going on.”     

                   
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