Seeing the light
Burns, 57, began his career in 1978 as a collision repair apprentice with a knack for painting. He got involved in aerospace with the Boeing plane-painting experience and went on to hold a series of positions at body shops and insurance companies. A job with Mitchell entailing nationwide travel to conduct educational sessions at numerous shops gave Burns the opportunity to take heed of the best and brightest practices being implemented throughout the country.
“I was open-minded to everything,” he explains, pointing out that he takes pride in establishing the latest in industry innovations at Action.
The partnership between Burns and Stock evolved when Stock, who is now 70-years-old, grew “tired of fighting the DRPs” and was seeking a new direction. (Experience counts: Head painter Angelo Bernal is still clocking in at age 68.) As Stock and Burns pondered their options, “a light bulb went on over my head,” Burns recounts. He recalled working at a shop in Nevada that made good money specializing in the aluminum repair technology that he had witnessed at Boeing. And he remembered his aircraft engineer friends talking about how aluminum was the next big thing coming to cars.
An active participant in the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), NACE and I-CAR, Burns’ constant enthusiasm for education has industry teachers ready to put him to work clapping blackboard erasers out back – or rather far loftier assignments at the front of the classroom. “I took 72 I-CAR classes in the past year. That’s a lot! And they want to make me an instructor, but I don’t think I have the time right now.”
Those I-CAR connections have served as a solid source for hiring top technicians. “I have a great crew,” says Burns. “I have great guys who want to learn,” which is a key factor in recruiting the right candidates. “Because we get a higher rate we pay them more, but they also have to take the classes.”
Burns concludes by contemplating Action’s latest business goal: “The next big thing is composites, and I’m already taking classes in that.”
Subscribe to ABRN and receive articles like this every month…absolutely free! Click here to subscribe.