Fix Auto Australia Expands Into QLD

Fix Auto said it has appointed Claydon Panel Works as its first strategic partner in Queensland. Having operated in Mackay for over 25 years, Fix Auto said that the panel shop has established a strong reputation for delivering the highest levels of quality and service to its insurer and private customers alike.

“Joining Fix Auto was a critical part of our desire to implement change in our business to ensure we can continue to thrive in a rapidly changing industry,” said Marty Wheeler, Director at Claydon Panel Works. “We wanted to join a group of like-minded business owners to promote high quality repairs and drive standards in excellence such as I-CAR training. Added value from maximising the group buying potentials on offer with leading global suppliers provides even greater value to the model.

“I was extremely excited about the rebranding of the business and a whole new visual presence of our facility. It is going to look great and provide an outstanding environment for our staff and customers alike.”

“Claydon Panel Works, who will now trade as Fix Auto Mackay, are the perfect fit for our business,” said Scott Holden, Fix Auto Head of Sales for QLD & NSW. “They have the passion and enthusiasm to deliver at the highest level and they embrace the changes needed to thrive in a consolidating industry that is under increasing pressure from all sides. Andrew, Marty and the whole team in Mackay represent the very best of our industry and we are delighted to have them as our latest partner.”

Novus Glass Rebranding Australian Locations

Novus Glass, an independent automotive glass repair and replacement business, is underway with rebranding its Australian locations in line with its recently-introduced Global Brands Standards programme.

Novus Glass says its flagship store in Malaga, WA, is the latest to have undergone a transformation for its branding and is now noticing a difference in the look and feel.

“This new look is such a contrast to our previous branding,” said Phil Bailey, Head of Sales and Marketing, Novus WA. “In the past we relied on a bold colour scheme to attract the eye, which it did very well for many years, but now we achieve even greater and more striking results through these clean lines and strong identity which are much more modern and in keeping with retail branding today. Customers love it and even the staff comment how great it looks every day when they arrive at work.”

The company said the rebranding exercise is just a component of its brand resurgence in Australia, with new locations and an expanding footprint to help Novus provide improved coverage and customer service.

“Novus has always had a strong reputation for service and quality,” said Stuart Faid, Regional Vice President Asia, Australia & New Zealand, Fix Network. “As the inventors of windscreen repair in 1972, we have always focused on delivering the highest levels of service and convenience to our customers. By giving the brand a more modern context, it better represents our focus on innovation, technology, tools and equipment and helps us better convey that focus to our customers. Lloyd, Phil and the whole team in Malaga have done an outstanding job of the rebranding and they deliver the customer experience to match it too.”

Fix Network is the parent company of Novus and collision repair network Fix Auto.

SEMA Sues US Department of Transportation

The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) has filed a petition in the US federal court system to require the government to allow replica car manufacturers to immediately begin production.

Under a 2015 law, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), low-volume car manufacturers may sell up to 325 replica cars each year that resemble production vehicles manufactured at least 25 years ago. The FAST Act set a deadline of 4 December 2016 for the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to issue any necessary regulations to implement the law. According to SEMA, the agency has yet to take any action.

Prior to enactment of the FAST Act, the United States had just one system for regulating automobiles, which was established in the 1960s and designed for companies that mass-produce millions of vehicles. SEMA said the lack of regulatory flexibility prevented small businesses from manufacturing turn-key vehicles, with many companies making capital investments and taking customer orders on the assumption that sales could begin in late 2016, as they were eager to produce replica vehicles under the new law. However, SEMA claims that the NHTSA has failed to issue regulations or undertake any other action allowing the small car manufacturers to produce and sell vehicles as permitted by law.

“SEMA warned NHTSA in 2018 that it would file suit if companies could not begin production of turnkey cars as authorised by the FAST Act,” said Christopher J. Kersting, SEMA President and CEO. “SEMA has made every effort to work collaboratively with NHTSA for over three and a half years, although the agency has taken no action to implement the replica car law. Consequently, companies have not hired workers, businesses have lost money, and consumers have been denied their rights to purchase replica cars.”

SEMA said vehicles produced under the FAST Act will be current model-year clean cars – the US Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board have developed guidelines and regulations to confirm that the engine packages to be installed will meet current emissions standards.

The association added that the replica car provision was designed to be easy for NHTSA to implement, as it is an extension of the common-sense approach to overseeing kit car production that the agency has employed for decades. While the FAST Act requires NHTSA to “issue such regulations as may be necessary” to implement the law, SEMA said the agency also has other options such as issuing a guidance document that will allow production to begin immediately. SEMA has asked the court to compel the NHTSA to take action.

Automotive Colour & Equipment Opens New Store In Newcastle

Automotive Colour & Equipment (ACE), a part of the SAPE group of companies that distributes vehicle paints, body supplies and repair equipment, has opened a new, relocated store at Cameron Park in Newcastle.

ACE says the 600 square-metre warehouse, office and retail showroom provide an operating platform for expansion in the region and an enhanced shopping experience for the customer.

“The brand-new development is strategically located close to the M1 Pacific Motorway and Newcastle Link Road, enabling our operation to service more customers in Newcastle, the Hunter and beyond,” said Paul McMartin, SAPE Group Director. “We are proud to have been a part of the Novacastrian community for the better part of 30 years and we owe our customers a lot for helping us build our business and new facility.

“We are thrilled that our move to a newer, roomier warehouse means we can boost this side of the business further, by providing customers with exceptional service across all channels including supply, support and service.”

I-CAR Announces Gold Class For Accident Repair Centre Dandenong

I-CAR Australia has awarded Accident Repair Centre Dandenong (ARCD) in Victoria with I-CAR Gold Class Collision status.

“The team at ARCD entered the Road to Gold programme 12 months ago in order to meet the Holden requirements for their approved repairer network,” said Gary Wood, I-CAR Australia Gold Class Coordinator. “They have been regular participants in the I-CAR online Virtual Classroom courses and training organised through their paint supplier, PPG. It is great to see another Holden repairer gain the Gold Class accreditation and continue to set high standards within the industry.”

“ARCD Repair Centre Pty Ltd are delighted to have successfully obtained the I-CAR Gold shop rating,” said Theo Pagiamtzis, ARCD owner. “We have found the process both informative and challenging due to the changing vehicle structures, metals and repair requirements.

“The team of people at I-CAR, from the office staff to the instructors, have been helpful, supportive and a wealth of knowledge. We as a team found the training a great team-building exercise. It has been educating, refreshing and extremely rewarding both individually and as a company to achieve this accreditation.

“Thanks, I-CAR. We will work together to maintain our current level [of] Gold,” said Pagiamtzis.

Insurer-Owned Repairer In NZ Said To Reduce Consumer Choice

An automotive industry association in New Zealand is warning the quality of vehicle repairs may drop as IAG opens its own panel beating shop under a new trial.

The new model proposed by the company, which in New Zealand includes Lumley, NZI, State and AMI, would see its customers required to have their vehicle repaired at an IAG-owned repairer.

Neil Pritchard, General Manager of the Collision Repair Association (CRA), has branded the move anti-competitive and says it signals the erosion of consumer choice and competition in the industry.

“Our concern is that under a model where the insurer dictates the standard and scope of the repair, there will be no oversight in place to protect the consumer,” said Pritchard. “Even seemingly minor or cosmetic repairs to modern vehicles may have underlying damage to sensitive radar and sensors, requiring specialist expertise and equipment to diagnose and effect suitable repairs, and it is important that motorists have a resolution structure in place which provides a degree of independence in the event of any issues.”

Pritchard says customers may also find their new vehicle warranties are voided if repairs are not made at an approved repairer, especially if genuine parts are not used.

“While the Consumer Guarantees Act will remain as a potential means of redress, the prospect of facing their insurer in a disputes tribunal hearing will be off-putting for many motorists. It is also unclear what happens if a customer has a poor service interaction with an IAG repair shop and whether they will be forced to use it again in the future if they remain with that insurer.”

Pritchard says there are also potential concerns around how this move will be communicated to customers.

“Existing customers of IAG may see the fine print of their terms and conditions simply adjusted when it comes to their annual renewal. New customers may be required to ‘opt-out’ when applying for insurance for the first time or face higher premiums,” he says.

Pritchard says IAG’s claims that the new venture is necessary due to processing delays in the current repair network is only a smokescreen for the introduction of a purely profit-driven strategy.

“This model is rare overseas, and the move to become more vertically integrated here is purely profit-driven and at the expense of consumer choice. Our concern is that New Zealand consumers are being used as part of a trial which could then be expanded into their other markets through IAG Australia. We would like to see the insurer working more closely with existing repairers to help reduce repair times and communication with customers.”

Axalta Appoints Jim Muse VP Refinish For EMEA

Axalta has announced the appointment of Jim Muse as Vice President of Refinish Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), succeeding Adrien Schrobiltgen in this role.

Muse first joined Axalta in 2013 as part of the North American refinish leadership team and was awarded the Axalta senior leadership award in 2015 for his contributions to the company. In his most recent role as Vice President of Global Refinish Sales, Muse led the organisation’s global customer base and was responsible for key American strategic accounts.

“I am delighted to welcome Jim to the region,” said Yves Kerstens, Vice President Axalta and President for EMEA. “His continued commitment to commercial excellence coupled with his success in playing a lead role in building and executing a new go-to-market strategy in North America makes him a great fit for this role. I am confident that with his vast knowledge of the refinish industry and his excellent leadership skills, he will be instrumental in continuing to grow the business in our region.”

Schrobiltgen is leaving the company to pursue opportunities outside the coatings industry after more than 34 years with Axalta. “We thank Adrien for his immense contribution to the organisation and wish him all the very best with his new endeavours.” said Kerstens.

Muse is based in Axalta’s EMEA headquarters in Basel, Switzerland.

Axalta Named Strategic Partner Of Rheinmetall Defence

Axalta has been named a strategic partner of Rheinmetall Defence for its Land 400 Phase 2 project. Axalta says that under the new contract, it will provide the global Boxer supply chain for coatings, application training and technical support to optimise their painting operations.

The Land 400 Phase 2 project involves delivering 211 Boxer wheeled 8×8 Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles to replace the Australian Army’s light armoured vehicles.

“Axalta is extremely proud to continue our strong relationship with Rheinmetall,” said Michael Busch, OEM and Military Program Manager at Axalta. “Axalta’s continued focus on the most technologically advanced and innovative coatings aligns perfectly with the Rheinmetall Boxer CRV. The delivery this September of the first unit is a significant milestone and represents only the start of our work together on this exciting project.

“Axalta has been working with Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles Australia (RMMVA) since 2015 and has consistently demonstrated an ability to develop customised product solutions for defence projects. In addition to providing special end-use coatings, Axalta’s technology included application techniques designed to improve cycle times and coating productivity.”

With painted components originating from numerous Australian and global locations, Axalta said its ability to assess site capabilities, design customised training, implement strict quality controls and establish efficient supply chains has ensured these cutting-edge military vehicles are delivered just as the Australian Defence Force had envisaged. Throughout the development of the Boxer CRV, Axalta formed part of the partnership between the Commonwealth, Rheinmetall and other SME partners to deliver the first Boxer ahead of schedule.

Suncorp Sells Capital S.M.A.R.T, ACM Parts To AMA Group

Suncorp has announced the signing of a binding agreement to sell 90 per cent of its interest in Capital S.M.A.R.T to collision repair company AMA Group for $420 million.

Suncorp will retain a 10 per cent interest in the business and a seat on the subsidiary board.

Group CEO, Steve Johnston, said the transaction was in the best interests of customers, shareholders and the business.

“The increasing complexity of repairs is driving significant change in the smash repair and parts procurement industry, and the divestment means Suncorp can focus on its core Insurance and Banking operations,” said Johnston. “Importantly, the agreement maintains Suncorp’s competitive advantage and we look forward to working closely with AMA as an ongoing partner.”

Suncorp also announced the complete sale of its automotive parts supplier, ACM Parts, to AMA for $20 million.

The transactions are expected to complete by 31 October 2019.

Uni-Select Announces Sale Of ProColor Franchise To Fix Auto

Uni-Select Inc., a leader in the distribution of automotive refinish and industrial paint and related products in North America, announced it has completed the sale of its ProColor franchise programme to Fix Auto.

“Since Uni-Select launched the ProColor banner in Québec in 2001, the network grew from 28 to 172 collision repair shops,” said Brent Windom, President and Chief Executive Officer of Uni-Select. “I wish to extend our gratitude to the ProColor team members who worked with us during the past 18 years and contributed to establish ProColor’s clear leadership position in the Québec market. Fix Auto has a strong global network and a solid reputation in the auto repair industry, especially in the Canadian market, and we are excited that ProColor will continue to grow under their umbrella.”

ProColor will complement Fix Auto’s operations in Québec and the Uni-Select network said it is committed to continuing to support ProColor and furthering expanded growth throughout Canada through a long-term supply partnership agreement.

Uni-Select has also entered into a transition agreement with Fix Auto to ensure an orderly and smooth transition for team members, customers and suppliers.