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Education overhaul

2015 Top Shops put their own spin on training
Wednesday, December 2, 2015 - 09:00
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Industry trade, training shows
Industry trade and training shows across the country also offer great opportunities for education. The inaugural Automechanika Chicago took place in April and trained 2,000 collision and service repair technicians during its three-day training course offerings that covered both technical and shop management topics.

During SEMA, the Society for Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) again hosted its Repairer Driven Education Series, which included OEM Collision Repair Technology Summit sessions. Events like these not only offer education for the shop owners and technicians, but also feature a trade show component that allows access to exhibitors who can help boost, streamline or improve a shop's business.

Those elements add up to an education opportunity second to none, says Aaron Schulenburg Executive Director for SCRS.

"I can't think of a better venue to train in," says Schulenburg. "You're already excited and inspired, and you're in a class surrounded by likeminded people who are more receptive to the information and likely to implement it when they get back home."

Schulenburg notes other benefit. Repairers have access to many of the most respected subject matter experts in the industry. They also have access to an extensive and comprehensive course list, all available in one place. There are cost savings as well. All inclusive passes allow repairers to attend every program they want.

 NACE, of course, provides its own extensive series of cutting edge courses from I-CAR, the Automotive Management Institute and manufacturers. A host of forums and symposiums give repairers additional insight on areas where they need to prepare their businesses. Among the numerous offerings at NACE 2015 were Advanced Steering and Suspension Systems Damage Analysis, Aluminum Repair on the Corvette Stingray, Technology in the Sales Process and Carbon Fiber Usage and Structural RepairAn MSO symposium examined issues like hiring, financing and the future of DRPs.

Vendors and consultants
Next to I-CAR, the second most popular training resource typically has been vendors, along with independent consultants. In the case of the former, South Broadway regularly receives painter training from its vendor, bringing in trainers in for four-day sessions covering safety, changing environmental laws, mixing and application. For the latter, Total Auto Body in Grafton, Wis., makes use of its lunchroom to screen videos by renown consultants like Mike Anderson.

Total owner Bob Gibson also attends Greenbelt lean courses from his paint vendor and takes those lessons back to his business. This practice has become a popular trend as some owners are using these classes to remake their entire operations. Paterniti has attended Greenbelt training four times now. He considers the first run-through an introduction and retook the coursework to get a better grasp on how he could implement the lessons at his shop.

Today, all D&G employees take the one-day Whitebelt lean course. "It helps with getting their buy-in for the changes being made," says Paterniti. Along with explaining the operational benefits of lean processing, the course was critical in helping nervous employees understand how transitioning to team based pay plans would increase their income. The move paid off quickly. In just one year, the shop increased throughput by 17 percent, boosting tech paychecks and reducing the hours D&S locations needed to stay open.

At Warrensburg Collision in Warrensburg, Mo., manager Casey Lund used lean classes from his paint vendor, with lessons taken from business classes and books, to reinvent his shop. Lund's father started the business in 2001 and immediately instructed his sons to stay out of the industry and instead finish their education and move on to other businesses. While finishing his MBA and working in fundraising and development, Lund learned his father was ill and decided to take the reins of the business.

For the first several years, he struggled mightily, and in 2012 realized he had to make drastic changes. Lund put his MBA and lean training to work. The first step was having most of his staff take four-day Greenbelt training. Then the shop held a number of kaizen events. From there, Lund empowered his entire staff to make changes. In February of this year, he built on that movement by instituting daily improvement sessions.

Every day, from 7:30 to 8:30, the shop doesn't fix cars; it fixes processes. Employees identify one area where they can cut waste and create a new work standard. The change must offer improvements in one of four ways — making a task faster, safer, simpler or producing better quality — without diminishing any of the other three. "Sometimes an improvement is as simple as finding a standard place for a pen so you don't have to waste time looking for one," says Lund.

At 8:30 employees assemble to share their findings, sometimes through demonstrations and other times with video. For the next half hour the entire staff also reviews the day's production plan, continues talks on spotting waste and discusses a “topic of the day,” which can be anything from lean production and management to finding ways to inspire others. The shop then makes use of huge 65 in. TV monitors to demonstrate its management programs so all employees learn how to utilize them.

(Photo courtesy of G&C Auto Body) Estimators looking to work at Top Shop G&C Auto Body must first pass a rigorous training course with assistance from a mentor. (Photo courtesy of Car Crafters) Employee break rooms can be transformed into classroom for vendor training and video tutorials.
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