Steve “Tank” Burns acquired his hard-charging nickname while working at Boeing. His tasks included painting Air Force One for the President of the United States and precisely coating all manner of high-grade military and civilian aircraft. In the process Burns learned about the various wrinkles associated with aluminum and how the metal’s application to car and truck bodies was beginning to take flight.
“They called me ‘Tank’ because I was blasting through problems – get it done!” says Burns, who went on to become co-owner of Colorado’s Action Collision Specialists along with business partner John Stock.
Highly skilled aluminum engineers and designers were a frequent presence on the line during Burns’ stint at Boeing. “The R&D guys would come in and ask us about airplanes and seek new ideas,” he recalls, “and they told us that aluminum was coming for cars.”
As an avid reader of the Wall Street Journal, Burns became aware that automakers were purchasing ever-larger shipments of aluminum. And that bit of news assisted in eventually steering him toward Action’s lucrative position as an industry-leading repair facility specializing in aluminum-clad vehicles and serving a high-end clientele.
“You have to keep yourself informed and you always have to plan for the future,” he advises. “You have to look worldwide” to identify upcoming trends and challenges facing collision repairers as they address aluminum and other advanced materials.
“It’s coming and a lot of shops aren’t ready for it. The other guys are all too busy with DRPs and cycle times, and that’s ridiculous,” says Burns, predicting that within a decade small shops and big chains alike will be forced to alter their focus on high-speed production and adopt a more measured and precise pace engineered to meet the “ultra-skilled technology” needs of the vehicles arriving through the bay doors.