Taking Tips from Industry Leaders
The “How I Did It” issue in FenderBender is one of my favorite features every year. It’s a feature we’ve written annually for years, has become a reader favorite, and even turned into a series at the FenderBender Management Conference. It’s easy to see why: Who wouldn’t want to ask someone they look up to, someone whose career they follow, someone whose business performance seems unbelievable: How did you do that?
The answers to those questions are remarkably varied and also indicative of the individual themselves. While there are certainly universal truths (education is key, change is necessary, a good team is a foundation to success), what might work for one shop owner may not work for another.
In associate editor Kelly Beaton’s feature alone, those “How I Did It” stories range from becoming a leading industry speaker, promoting an underrepresented demographic, encouraging new generations to the industry, and helping apprentices move into a fulfilling career.
Elsewhere in the magazine, there are even more How They Did It stories, but for a decidedly different audience: our third annual “Oversized” section, written specifically for heavy-duty truck collision repair shop owners.
For those unfamiliar with this segment of the industry, to say it’s a different animal is an understatement. Beyond just the (obviously) sheer size of the vehicles these operators work on, those vehicles also require completely different tools, equipment, technology, parts, software, repair processes, information, procedures, and facility space—all of which has remained relatively stagnant and outdated, particularly in contrast to the light-duty collision repair segment and in light of the advanced driver-assistance systems that have also made their way to heavy-duty trucks.
However, much like the shop operators highlighted in the How I Did It feature, the heavy-duty collision repair shop owners in this year’s Oversized have attacked their unique circumstances with the same resourceful, clever, forward-thinking perspective.
Ultimately, their motivation for doing so is simple: it comes down to safety. As industry consultant Mike Anderson said in his 2016 wishlist (yes, he’s advocated for this industry for years): “These are the guys who fix vehicles that might have 50 kids on it the next day. It’s scary the lack of access they have to training, education and OEM information, and it’s not their fault.”