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Snap Shop: Herbers Autobody Repair

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HERBERS AUTOBODY REPAIR OWNER: Peninsula Capital Partners LLC (majority shareholder) LOCATION: 5 facilities in greater Edmonton, AB SIZE: 22,000 SQUARE FEET (PARSONS RD., HEAD OFFICE LOCATION) STAFF: 135 (TOTAL FOR ALL LOCATIONS) AVERAGE ANNUAL REVENUE: $5 MILLION AVERAGE MONTHLY CAR COUNT: 150 

EFFICIENT 3-D MEASURING

The Edmonton, Alberta area features harsh, unrelenting winters, with an average annual snowfall of nearly 125 centimeters (50 inches). Animal hits—including moose hits—are a frequent byproduct of the cold weather. As a result, Herbers Autobody Repair, with five locations in the Edmonton area, is well-equipped to handle such accidents. 

“It’s not uncommon for us to have a vehicle with antlers embedded in the windshield,” notes 

Rodd Hallett, the Canadian MSO’s director of operations. 

To handle the relatively steady stream of animal hits, Herbers’ staff has developed a fine-tuned pre-inspection process featuring a full teardown, a full assessment of damage, and confirmation that parts are available. And, that inspection process is aided by 3-D measuring systems like a $33,000 (Canadian) AccuVision model.

Thanks to that 3-D measuring system, Hallett says his staff “can basically predetermine the underhood dimensions of a car in about 10 minutes.” 

CERTIFIED ALUMINUM REPAIR 

To cater to the abundance of trucks and SUVs that are built using aluminum that are in Edmonton, a pair of Herbers locations have attained aluminum certifications. The MSO, which recently entered its fifth decade in existence, load levels the aluminum repairs by funneling that type of work to its location on the western edge of the city. It’s not uncommon for 70 percent of the vehicles at that facility to feature aluminum-based platforms. 

Thus, the shop features aluminum welding equipment, aluminum rivet guns, and a truck hoist system that aids in box panel replacements. 

ESTIMATING STATION UTILIZATION

The company produces a cycle time that far outpaces competitors: roughly 7 days during warm weather months. Hallett says a key reason for that is its “estimation station,” at which an employee is located in the middle of the shop floor, in an effort to maximize efficiencies while minimizing miscommunication. 

It’s a key element of Herbers’ overall lean initiative. 

“With a file that has a supplement,” Hallett notes, “the traditional method would be to run the vehicle outside, write down the supplement, and then the technician would go try and find an estimator in the office. And, all the while you stop and talk to people, and it minimizes the efficiency of two or three technicians.

“But what we’ve done is put an estimator centrally located in the shop, in order to minimize any inefficiencies, or downtime, on the part of technicians.” 

TEAMS FOR REFINISHING

Another element that separates Herbers from competitors is its utilization of teams in the paint department—two painters, along with four preppers, per team. Fred Mueller, Herbers’ president, said the MSO learned that throughput technique thanks to past consultation from the Repair Plan Network in Colorado. 

“We’ve taken out a lot of the wasted time that typically creeps in,” Mueller says. “A typical team is comprised of six people—and everybody jumps on the car when it comes into the refinish side. So, you don’t have one guy then overloaded with a big job. 

“Everybody jumps on the job. Somebody does the priming, somebody does the sanding, some masking. And then we have dedicated painters where all they do is paint, all day long. That helps us to really push a car through much quicker than we had traditionally.” 

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