VACC Says Most Automotive Businesses Are Open

According to the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC), which represents over 5000 members, the majority of automotive businesses across the country remain open.

“Car, motorcycle and farm machinery dealerships; automotive repair workshops; body repair businesses; tyre dealerships: everything automotive is open and thousands of businesses remain ready to service the needs of Australian motorists,” said Geoff Gwilym, CEO of the VACC.

The one exception is public vehicle auctions, which continue to deliver their services online.

“In the midst of major business closures and hibernations across many sectors, most automotive-related businesses have decided to remain open, and at the same time have adapted to suit these difficult times,” said Gwylim. “Automotive businesses have access to the Chamber’s comprehensive suite of information and support services, meaning they are up-to-date with the latest safety measures, including correct hygiene procedures and social distancing measures.”

The VACC says businesses have put measures in place to protect customers and staff, offering contactless services to provide a safer environment.

Contactless services being offered include:

  • Key drop-off box facilities
  • Contactless payment, including tap and go, online banking and over the phone payments
  • Emailing of quotes and invoices
  • Repair order authorisation via SMS or email
  • Offering taxis or Ubers instead of courtesy cars
  • Pickup and delivery of vehicles
  • Correct vehicle sanitation before and after service

“The automotive industry is open for business,” said Gwylim. “So whether Australians want to purchase a vehicle, or service and maintain the vehicle they already own, their local automotive business is ready and equipped to provide the best and safest service possible.”

Axalta Concludes Review Of Strategic Alternatives Due To COVID-19

Axalta’s board of directors has unanimously voted to conclude its review of strategic alternatives due to the dislocation in global markets caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the nine-month review, Axalta explored alternatives to maximise shareholder value, including a comprehensive sale process, as well as an evaluation of the company’s operating strategies, core underlying businesses and standalone value creation potential.

Following evaluation of these alternatives, the board determined that shareholders are best served by the ongoing execution of the company’s strategic plan.

Axalta communicated with more than 50 participants, including companies in the coatings, chemical and industrial sectors, as well as financial sponsors throughout the US, Europe, and Asia regarding a potential sale of the company or components of its business. Axalta signed non-disclosure agreements with 18 potential purchasers to facilitate due diligence.

“Although the process has concluded, our board will continue to evaluate all opportunities to enhance shareholder value,” said Mark Garrett, Axalta’s Chairman of the Board and Chair of its Strategic Review Committee. “I would like to thank Robert Bryant (Axalta President and CEO) and the management team for their hard work in the review process and for the excellent job they are doing to navigate Axalta through a global crisis. I’d also like to thank our employees for their relentless commitment and outstanding contributions to Axalta’s success.”

Bryant said Axalta has taken “swift and decisive action” to address the impact of COVID-19 on customer demand, including executing adjustments to Axalta’s cost structure.

“We believe the actions we are taking, coupled with a strong balance sheet and ample liquidity, will enable us to emerge from this crisis in a position of strength. Our top priority is the health of our employees, customers and communities. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and take further action as appropriate,” said Bryant.

WIN Announces 2020 MIW Award Recipients

The Women’s Industry Network (WIN) has announced the 2020 honourees for the Most Influential Women (MIW) award, presented to women who have notable achievements in the collision repair industry throughout their career.

Since 1999, over 90 women have been recognised for their contributions to the collision repair industry. WIN says it has reviewed many worthy applicants and chosen three industry leaders to receive the MIW honours:

  • Sandee Lindorfer, Director, Allstate Insurance
  • Christy Jones, Owner of R Jones Collision 1
  • Kristle Bollans, Director, Replacement Accounts, The Hertz Corporation

“It is an honour to recognise these three women this year as the most influential women in the collision repair industry,” said Marie Peevy, President Automotive Training Coordinators, a 2018 MIW honouree, and Co-Chair of the 2020 MIW committee. “They are strong women who support other women and are passionate about what they do. They have the ability to dream and transform while helping others in the industry, their communities and families.”

Sandee Lindorfer

Lindorfer began her career in collision repair as a co-owner of a collision repair shop, then worked for a large MSO and later began her insurance career at Allstate Insurance, where she is now Director. She has been awarded the company’s Distinguished Leadership Award on five different occasions, as well as its Courageous Leadership Award by her claims officer team.

She serves on the I-CAR Board of Directors, participated on the advisory boards for CCC, Mitchell and Cpart, has spoken at several collision repair industry events, and serves on the WIN membership committee and in numerous capacities with CREF. She is also a supporter of the WINGS Program, Inc., and GIGI, a non-profit organisation for children with down syndrome.

Christy Jones

Jones has worked in the collision industry for 19 years and is owner of R Jones Collision 1, becoming the first female shop owner in Des Moines. She currently serves as an advisory member to the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) collision programme, is an active member of WIN, a platinum member of SCRS and a Gold Pin member of CIC. She was Secretary of the Iowa Collision Repair Association from 2010–2018 and was a committee member for the Iowa I-CAR committee.

In 2019 she was accepted into the Goldman Sachs 10,000 small business Iowa Cohort 2, has been an AkzoNobel Acoat Selected Sustaining Partner over 20 years, and was recently named one of the NAWBO Enterprising Women of the Year for Iowa in the US$1 to US$2 million category. In 2019, Jones and her friend supported Nyame Do, an educational facility in Ghana teaching women how to sew and to become independent when they graduate. They raised over US$6000 in one night and supported the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, raising over US$5000 for the cause.

Kristle Bollans

A collision industry veteran for 13 years, she received the Hertz Leadership Award in 2011, 2012 & 2013 – Hertz’s most coveted and prestigious award. Bollans said she considers it her duty and biggest responsibility to train, develop and mentor others within the business under her leadership at Hertz. She serves on the National Auto Body Board Council, on the WIN Planning Committee, and the Scholarship Selection Committee for CREF.

She is passionate about empowering women in all aspects of life and is also a committee member of Women Inspiring Leaders, Driving Execution and Results (W.I.L.D.E.R). From a community standpoint, she sits on the nurturing committee at her church, volunteers at the Homeless Support Service programme, has led giving campaigns to the National Cancer Society and the ASPCA, and volunteers her time as a teacher at 4K Sunday School.

Shaun Westcott Appointed CEO Of Mitsubishi Motors Australia

Mitsubishi Motors will appoint Shaun Westcott as CEO of Mitsubishi Motors Australia (MMAL), succeeding the current CEO, John Signoriello, from April.

Signoriello worked with MMAL for 30 years, holding various roles in operations, sales and marketing before being appointed CEO in 2017. From April, he will become Executive Officer for Global Marketing and Sales for Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) in Tokyo.

Westcott began at MMAL in 2019 as Deputy Director of Aftersales and was responsible for aftersales, parts and accessories and customer experience. Westcott is also experienced in other industries including mining, fast-moving consumer goods, robotics and manufacturing.

“I am proud of the outstanding commitment and achievements of my team,” said Signoriello. “Shaun is a great fit for MMAL and his diverse experience places him in a strong position to lead this team through the next phase of the business. His appointment demonstrates MMC’s commitment to developing talent globally and I look forward to following the developments under Shaun’s leadership over the coming years.”

AkzoNobel Releases 2019 Integrated Report

AkzoNobel has launched its digital report for 2019 which, according to the company, highlights the company’s progress over another year where it has focused on transformation, innovation and investment in the future.

The company says the website includes comprehensive coverage of its financial results, key business developments and several case studies with related videos which feature and highlight some of the year’s biggest success stories.

“We sent a strong message about our ability to achieve our financial ambition,” said Thierry Vanlancker, CEO of AkzoNobel. “It was impressive to experience our internal momentum during the course of the year as we intensified our focus on dramatically stepping up our return on sales by the end of 2020.”

The online report has a revised sustainability section which is structured around the company’s new “People. Planet. Paint” approach. It gives a review of AkzoNobel’s sustainability performance and highlights the major progress made in areas such as total VOC emissions and absolute greenhouse gas emissions.

“Right across the organisation, from salespeople in Brazil, to operators in France and researchers in China, everyone has been fully focused on delivering for our customers, while helping the company to become the reference in paints and coatings,” said Vanlancker.

To view the 2019 report website, click here.

AkzoNobel Secures Supply Deal With BMW Group

The BMW Group has chosen AkzoNobel to be a supplier of vehicle refinish products and services to a large part of its distribution network around the world.

The agreement covers 44 locations and means that the company’s Sikkens and Lesonal brands are now approved for paint repairs of BMW and Mini passenger cars at authorised dealers, repairers, importers and national BMW Group branches.

“We’re delighted to begin working with the BMW Group,” said Patrick Bourguignon, Managing Director of AkzoNobel’s Automotive and Specialty Coatings business. “We believe Sikkens and Lesonal are the perfect match to further enhance the customer service offer and efficiency of the BMW network.”

The locations covered by the new agreement are Albania, Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Bosnia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Israel, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malaysia, Morocco, Mexico, Moldovia, Norway, Oman, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the UAE, Ukraine, Vietnam and Yemen.

Mike Wilkins Becomes QBE Chairman

QBE Insurance Group has announced that former IAG CEO Mike Wilkins has been elected to take over as Chairman of the Group Board, starting from 1 March 2020.

Wilkins succeeds W. Marston Becker who is not standing for re-election, and who will retire from the Board on 30 April.

Wilkins joined the QBE Group Board in November 2016 and is currently Deputy Chairman of the People and Remuneration committee. He is also a member of the Audit and Operations and Technology committees.

Wilkins was previously the Managing Director and CEO of Insurance Australia Group (IAG).

Sherwin-Williams Will Build New Global HQ, R&D Centre In Ohio

Sherwin-Williams is finalising plans to build a new global headquarters, following an extensive competitive site selection process, in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, and a new R&D centre in the Cleveland suburb of Brecksville.

The company says its plans require the completion of some standard due diligence, approval of incentives and other matters at the state, county and city levels. It will also resolve all business and legal matters tied to the investment project.

“Our plans to continue investing in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio build on our 154-year legacy as one of the region’s top employers and drivers of economic activity,” said John G. Morikis, Chairman and CEO of Sherwin-Williams. “Driven by our continued need to serve our customers at the highest level and retain and attract top talent, we intend to create a next-generation workplace environment that ignites creativity, collaboration and industry-leading innovation.

“We currently operate out of a 90-year-old headquarters building that has served us well but is no longer conducive to meeting our future needs. The major planned investment in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio reflects our confidence in the continued strength of the region and its people and our public partners’ ability to deliver on their commitments.”

The preliminary plans require Sherwin-Williams to invest a minimum of US$600 million to build both facilities. The new headquarters will be approximately one million square-feet (92,900 square metres) while the R&D centre, which will serve as the corporate anchor for a new mixed-use development project, will be about 500,000 square feet (46,450 square metres).

The two facilities will house over 3500 employees combined, with room to accommodate significant future growth. Sherwin-Williams estimates that a minimum of 400 jobs will be added at these facilities over time and that many of the jobs will include professional staff, engineers and chemists.

The transition to the new facilities isn’t expected until 2023 at the earliest.

Symach Appoints New General Manager For Australia

Mark Cunningham has been appointed as Symach Australia’s General Manager, overseeing and supporting the company’s activities and expansion of the brand in the region.

Cunningham has over 20 years of experience in the motor trade and has worked with some of the largest vehicle repairers in Australia and Ireland. He began his career in the collision repair business as a panel estimator before moving into insurance assessing.

“The motor industry gives lots of different options to suit various skill sets and always had a lot of appeal to me,” said Cunningham. “We hold some of the best future tradesmen and women as proven by the WorldSkills competition recently. Along with clever business owners taking a keen look towards improved processes, equipment and forward-thinking technology, we are in a good spot which can also get better.”

With this recent addition, Symach has now launched its commercial structure in Australia, making its FixLine technology and processes available to workshops across the country. The company says that Fixline is designed to reduce cycle times, improve quality and increase throughput and profitability using the existing floor space.

“As the first ever Australia-based GM for Symach, this allows me the opportunity to give the forward-thinking decision makers the chance to be the changemakers for their business or group,” says Cunningham, in reference to Symach’s slogan for 2020, The Changemaker. “I tend to welcome all inquiries which can be from the existing Symach family, distributors, to new potential customers, big or small. I believe my background can assist as my career and life decisions have always been to help others, whether that’s friends or businesses I have been associated with. I just enjoy our industry; everyone wants to improve. Symach’s unique processes and new 2020 technology give Australia and New Zealand the opportunity to improve by leading the way with Symach products and concepts.”

“With Mark joining Symach, we expect to introduce our FixLine equipment and process to more workshops across Australia,” said Osvaldo Bergaglio, President of Symach. “This is the first step to reinforce our commitment to the Australian market in providing the solutions body shops need to grow their business profitably.”

Symach Provides Equipment To TDN Group

Symach has announced that its equipment and technology provided to TDN Group’s first facility in the United Kingdom are fully operational. TDN Group has also incorporated technology and safety equipment to calibrate advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and repair electric and hybrid vehicles.

“Since installing Symach’s unique FixLine process, we’ve found that it has helped us with efficiency in our facility,” said Jordan Fisher, Managing Director of AXIOM-UK, a TDN Group company. “The track system we installed creates a process and workflow that dramatically speeds up the movement of vehicles through the shop and Symach’s Drytronic technology fully cures paint in just [a] few seconds.”

Fisher said the equipment also allows the shop to quality-control repaired vehicles and reduce the risk of rework and customer complaints.

“We enjoyed working with TDN Group to set up their world-class facility in the UK,” said Osvaldo Bergaglio, CEO of Symach. “Symach’s FixLine process and Drytronic technology will drastically reduce the cost and time of repairs at TDN Group’s shop.”

TDN Group was formed in 2014 as a paintless dent removal (PDR) company, offering physical dent repair as well as PDR-related training and accreditation, including tool development and sales, along with catastrophic hail repair. In 2019, AXIOM Accident & Hail Repair purchased 50 per cent of TDN Group’s shares.

“The CEO of AXIOM Accident & Hail Repair, Bill Park, had developed a hybrid solution for the body shop industry that he wanted to bring to the UK,” said Fisher. “This solution was to encompass PDR with Symach drying technology to dramatically reduce repair times and increase levels of quality.”

AXIOM Accident & Hail Repair had installed a FixStation at one of its sites in Colorado in 2018. It’s equipped with a Flydry robot, paint mixing room, a vacuum sanding system and a multi-box with plugs and retractable air and electrical supply. Since then, AXIOM-US said that the FixStation has provided continuous workflow throughout the shop, and the company is planning to install the equipment in every new site it opens in the UK and Europe. The facility is being set up as an onboarding centre and functional body shop.

Fisher said the vision for the AXIOM-UK brand is to open 25 body shops within five years.