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.”

IAG Net Profit Boosted By Thailand Pull-Out

Australia’s Insurance Australia Group (IAG) announced that its net profit for the financial year ended 30 June 2019 jumped by nearly 17 per cent to A$1.08 billion, more than the A$1 billion predicted by local analysts.

The main factors in IAG’s profit jump are the sale of its Thai operations, strong performance by its Australian Personal Insurance division and strong growth in New Zealand.

Profit in the insurance division dropped by 13 per cent due to large natural disaster claims, but the sale of the Thailand operations brought in profit of more than A$200 million.

Axalta Opens New ANZ Head Office In Sydney

Axalta today officially opened its new Australia and New Zealand regional head office.

The company said the 5300 square metre multi-functional facility will enable higher quality and faster service for customers throughout the region, greater access to the company’s broad selection of advanced coating technologies and products, and more efficient supply chain solutions for customers.

Axalta CEO, Robert Bryant, said the facility is a significant milestone for Axalta and its customers in the region.

“It demonstrates our confidence in the growing Australian and New Zealand markets and creates an important opportunity to be closer to our customers under one roof,” said Bryant. Customers will benefit because of the greater access to new products, faster customer service, and the unique training opportunities offered at our new facility. In addition, the expanded presence in ANZ enhances the capacity we need to meet our long-term growth plans in the region, which is an integral part of our continued global growth.”

Located in Marsden Park, Western Sydney, the facility will house regional corporate offices, a customer training facility, and a warehouse and distribution centre. Each of Axalta’s business segments – Refinish, Industrial, and Transportation – will be represented in the new building.

The state-of-the-art customer training centre will use Axalta’s latest coating technologies, training techniques and digital tools. The company said this will help customers achieve high quality results while increasing productivity and profitability.

Axalta said customers will also gain in-depth knowledge of the latest spraying application systems that use less energy and reduce waste, have fast-drying finish, and use superior colour matching technologies. The training centre is expected to be fully operational within the next four months.

“Axalta is the world leader in refinish and consistently invests in enhancing our capabilities, facilities, and training to help customers grow their businesses,” said Steven Brett, Managing Director, Australia and New Zealand, Axalta. “We provide our customers with access to the latest products and innovations in the industry and offer the best training available. We are excited about our new training capabilities in the region, and that we can now offer the most efficient warehousing and distribution methods all from this terrific new facility.”

From left: Vice President and President Emerging Markets, Sobers Sethi; CEO Robert Bryant; and Managing Director Australia and New Zealand, Steven Brett.
From left: Vice President and President Emerging Markets, Sobers Sethi; CEO Robert Bryant; and Managing Director Australia and New Zealand, Steven Brett, officially cut the ribbon to open Axalta’s new head office in Australia and New Zealand.

Suncorp Becomes First Thatcham Research ‘Global Associate’

Thatcham Research has announced the renewal of its contract with Suncorp, extending the successful collaboration that has seen Suncorp distribute Thatcham Research repair data in Australia and New Zealand since 2013.

Under the renewed agreement, Suncorp will become the first ever Thatcham Research Global Associate, providing Suncorp with access to Thatcham Research’s large vehicle research, data and services.

“We are delighted to welcome Suncorp as our first ever Global Associate member, building on the successful partnership we have enjoyed over the last five years,” said Neale Phillips, Global Product Director, Thatcham Research. “We are committed to supporting its needs and those of its repair network – starting with an upgrade to escribe which will shortly see the inclusion of vehicle manufacturer methods, to further increase vehicle coverage.”

Thatcham’s online portal escribe provides insurance assessors and repairers with instant access to the latest multi-franchised Thatcham Research crash repair methods, times and technical newsletters.

“Thatcham repair data helps to ensure that our customer’s vehicles are repaired in the most safe and efficient manner, so the decision to extend and strengthen our relationship with such a respected industry body was an easy one and aligns 100 per cent with Suncorp’s overarching repair strategy,” said Brett Wallace, EM Assessing & Repair Performance, Suncorp.

Hollander Launches Recycled Parts In Australia And New Zealand

Hollander International Systems has announced the launch of a new dedicated used parts marketplace called Hollanderparts.com.au. This new site will list up to 1.5 million recycled auto parts from over 150 qualified and verified automotive recyclers across Australia and New Zealand. The company says it will be the single largest site dedicated to the online sale of recycled car parts in Australia and New Zealand.

“We are proud to play our role in helping raise awareness and access to quality genuine recycled auto parts across Australia and New Zealand,” said Phil Peace, Managing Director of Hollander International Systems. “We believe this is a huge step in making recycled auto parts available and easily accessible to the mass market whilst offering a one-stop shop for collision and mechanical repair centres who want to offer a high-quality repair, cost-effectively, sustainably and at the best possible margin for their business.”

Hollander says the site is made possible by Pinnacle Professional, the largest automotive recycler yard management system in the southern hemisphere, along with the extensive collaboration of Pinnacle users. Hollander says Pinnacle enables consumers and businesses to have greater choice than ever before, whilst offering a buying experience that’s quick and helps repairers offer viable repair alternatives to vehicle owners and work providers.

All parts available on Hollanderparts.com.au will have a minimum three-month warranty, with buyers able to contact suppliers directly to discuss parts. They can match parts based on vehicle make, model and part type, then pay directly for them using PayPal.

Axalta Partners With Volgren Buses In Australia

Axalta has announced a new partnership in Australia with Volgren, a leading bus manufacturer owned by Brazilian company Marcopolo S.A.

Axalta recently signed an agreement to be the sole supplier of coatings to Volgren for both newly manufactured buses and for the repair of existing ones. The partnership consists of an all-inclusive training and support package, as well as an extensive trial period to assess product performance.

“Having been with one paint company for the past 20 years, we did not make the decision to change easily,” said Michael Healy, Volgren Supply Chain Manager. “For the first three months we put Axalta’s products and back-up service through intense testing and were very pleased with the professionalism, commitment and quality that Axalta delivered. I’m 100 per cent confident that the change we made will ensure Volgren buses continue to lead the market for many years to come.”

As well as developing customised product solutions using the Imron Fleet Line range, Axalta said it demonstrated paint application techniques that could assist in improving cycle times in the coating application. This was supported by comprehensive on-site training and repair process documentation.

“As a market leader in Australia, Volgren needed a coatings partner to work with them through all levels of the business,” said Steven Brett, Axalta’s Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand. “With the introduction of new products, new processes and improved quality control across all Volgren locations, we demonstrated that Axalta could meet Volgren’s requirements.”

Will Suncorp Sell Capital S.M.A.R.T?

Suncorp is reportedly seeking a buyer for its majority shareholding in Capital S.M.A.R.T Repairs, which is believed to be worth more than $300 million.

The group owns 95 per cent of Capital S.M.A.R.T, with the balance owned by its founder Jim Vais.

According to Suncorp, Capital S.M.A.R.T handles 45 per cent of its motor vehicle repairs.

Capital S.M.A.R.T reported $290 million in revenue for the 2016-2017 financial year, an increase of $47 million over the previous 12 months. The company also reported a net profit of $14.1 million and assets of $61.6 million. It operates 45 sites across Australia and New Zealand and has an estimated 4.3 per cent of the Australian collision repair market.

Axalta Announces New Australian Headquarters In Western Sydney

Axalta Coating Systems has commissioned construction of a new 10,200m2  Australian headquarters in Marsden Park, in Western Sydney. The facility will house corporate offices, a state-of-the-art training facility, and a warehouse and distribution centre for up to 50 employees.

Scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2019, the facility will serve the Company’s refinish and commercial vehicle customers, light vehicle OEMs, as well as industrial and military customers in Australia and New Zealand. The new centre will support each of Axalta’s customers with high quality paints, lean processes, and sustainable applications.

“Building a new headquarters is part of our commitment to Australia and an important component of our growth strategy in the region,” said Steven Brett, Axalta’s Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand.  “We’re confident that this new site will help us deliver innovative and comprehensive coating solutions to our customers. The site will deploy environmentally responsible processes and provide a healthy environment for employees and the community.”

In 1976, Axalta established its business in Australia with a focus on providing regional training centers in each capital city across the country. The new headquarters will house the national training centre that will focus on refinish and industrial products, whilst helping refinishers maximise their skill-sets and keep them up-to-date with the latest technology and techniques.

“Axalta’s new training centre is all about supporting our customers,” said Paul Polverino, Axalta’s National Training Manager. “Using our leading refinish and industrial brands, training will focus on driving process optimisation to help bodyshops be more efficient and productive to ultimately improve their business performance and gain a competitive edge.”

For more information on Axalta or training courses go to www.axalta.com.au or call 1800 292 582.

BASF Australia Staff Changes

BASF’s Coatings division has made several role changes within the team as well as appointing new personnel to the group

Mark Spiteri has been chosen as National Sales Manager Australia and New Zealand, succeeding David Priestley, who is retiring. Shaun Batty has been appointed as the Business Development Manager, QLD.

Ian Johnson, who has been BASF’s Technical Sales Support Manager for more than decade has become the Business Development Manager, NSW. His previous role has been filled by David Handcock.

Joining Mark Harrison in his role as the Business Development Manager WA, SA, TAS, NT, is Mathew Pascoe, as Business Development Representative in South Australia.

BASF’s Key Account Management team, led by Senior Key Accounts Manager, Paul Hooper, has welcomed two new team members. Danny Berti, has taken up the position of Key Accounts Specialist, a move from his role as Business Development Manager, NSW and Colin Blandford has joined as Key Accounts Specialist for QLD and New Zealand.

“With an ever-changing industry it is important that we provide the highest level of service for our customer network” said Tony Wiggins, Head of Coatings, ANZ for BASF Australia Ltd, “I strongly believe we have the best team moving forward.”

New Cromax Accelerator Speeds Up Air-Drying

Cromax has developed a new accelerator that helps Cromax High Productive Surfacers dry faster at ambient temperatures.

High Productive Accelerator AZ1050 changes the drying properties of High Productive Surfacer 1051R (white) and High Productive Surfacer 1057R (black) to cut air-drying times from 60 minutes to 30 minutes at 20°C, which is especially effective during the cooler months of the year.

“It’s important to us to support our refinishers’ aim of increased throughput and productivity, and the introduction of a dedicated High Productive Accelerator for our High Productive Surfacers certainly does just that,” said Jim Iliopoulos, Axalta’s Product and Technical Manager for Australia and New Zealand. “High Productive Accelerator AZ1050 is mixed with the High Productive Surfacers, for up to three coats, wet-on-wet with no flash-off times. This eliminates between 10 and 20 minutes of unproductive flash-off time, significantly improves the speed of overall application and drying, and makes the refinish process more efficient and economical, whilst also helping to save energy.”

The High Productive Surfacer is mixed with the VHS Fast Activator XK203 and High Productive Accelerator AZ1050 in a ratio of 5:1:2. This accelerated primer system has excellent vertical stability.

High Productive Surfacer 1051R (white) and High Productive Surfacer 1057R (black) are part of the ValueShade concept, which helps to deliver the optimal undercoat for every topcoat colour. Different shades of grey are matched to different topcoat colours, delivering a combination that requires less paint. All Cromax colour retrieval tools specify the right ValueShade for every topcoat, which can minimise preparation time, increase colour hiding, decrease paint consumption and help to reap improved productivity and profitability.