The 2018 FenderBender Awards: Derick Ware
Derick Ware took the cardboard, formed it into the shape of a stained glass window and wrapped it in aluminum foil. He had some mechanic’s wire on hand, so he chopped pieces of it to form the metal between the panes, and bent the rest of the wire into the shape of a dove and glued it to the aluminum. To top his decoration off, Ware painted each individual “glass” piece of the window with transparent colors.
“So it actually looked like light was coming through it,” he says with a laugh.
It was Christmas time at Glaser’s Collision Centers, which meant it was time for the company ornament contest. And while it may not seem like much, this momentary project represents the pride Ware puts into his work.
This decoration, in particular, stands out to the small MSO’s owner, Aaron Glaser, as it captures what stands out about the company’s most profitable painter: his attention to detail, his thoughtful use of materials, his efficiency to construct an elaborate stained glass window model in under an hour.
But Ware’s 220 percent efficiency isn’t why Glaser nominated him for a FenderBender Award—it’s his ability to get everyone else on his level.
“Even with his strengths as a painter, Derick’s biggest strength is his attitude—always smiling and putting the good of others in front of himself,” Glaser says. “If he sees anyone struggling, personally or professionally, he will jump in and help resolve the issue. It is not uncommon to see him helping wash cars, reassemble cars, or helping teach new skills to one of the younger techs.”
Once a prepper working under the shop’s lead painter, Ware now cherishes the opportunity to teach and help young collision repair professionals rise through the ranks as he did. Originally hired as a detailer, Glaser recognized Ware’s ambition to advance early on and quickly transitioned him into the paint shop, where Ware carefully watched his mentor Sean’s methods in the paint booth.
“I wanted to get caught up on prep work so I would watch him paint through the window,” Ware says. “Preppers usually take their time prepping. But I always wanted to be ahead to take a few minutes to examine everything he was doing.
“That’s where I learned a lot. Watching his different methods, techniques, tricks.”
Now the lead painter and father of two is passing on the skills passed onto him, coaching his preppers on his own methods that upped efficiency in his facility’s department by 45 percent. Averaging 53 percent gross profit on paint, Ware and his preppers now work in sync, pushing out 100 hours of work per day and very rarely suffering a comeback. Thus far in 2018, Glaser claims Ware’s team has had only one respray.
Those stellar numbers can be traced back to Ware’s consistency with every stage in the painting process. From the preparation of the vehicle to the color matching to the cleaning of the car, Ware has outlined specific processes that may take more time, but keep material usage low, efficiency high, and comebacks to a bare minimum.
“It’s all about time management,” Ware says. “Learning how to keep my preppers occupied on things to keep me in the booth at all times. If the booth isn’t running, we’re not making any money.”
Ware is hyper aware of his effect on his team, so at all times he’s thinking about ways to cut down on material usage, to efficiently mix colors, to improve his department processes. When Glaser’s switched from Sikkens to PPG, he spent his downtime studying the colors, learning “what different blues and greens do to different colors” so he wouldn’t lose a step on his color matching.
Ware’s processes even extend into the body department as part of his “quality control checkpoints.” He ensures everything on the vehicle is ready before moving into his paint department so he can eliminate primers and avoid any repaints.
“It’s not just about being efficient in the paint shop, but in the shop as a whole,” he says.
At the end of the day, that communal attitude encapsulates Ware’s mission to not just improve himself, but everyone else around him. Whether it’s a Ford F-150 or a holiday decoration, the thoughtfulness and care that goes into each project is a direct reflection of his work ethic.
“I didn’t become a painter to be recognized as the best,” Ware says. “I just want to be the best I can be. If I’m out working in the yard, I do the same. It’s just about having pride in your work.”