SEMA Show 2010: Jeff Hendler at CIC: All shops should be registered with DOT

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Nov. 3, 2010, LAS VEGAS—All body shops in the nation should be registered with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and Collision Industry Conference (CIC) Administrator Jeff Hendler thinks it could happen in the next five years.

At this point, the DOT only has the authority to regulate new cars, Hendler told the audience at the CIC on Wednesday. Hendler, an industry consultant who owns J.D. Hendler Associates in Pasco, Wash., is working with members of Congress and the DOT to convince legislators to give the DOT the authority to regulate body shops by assigning every body shop a registration number. This would create a national registry of body shops that would make it easier for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to keep track of which body shops are complying with regulatory guidelines.

Hendler estimated that, while there are about 55,000 body shops in the country, the EPA only knows about 37,000 of them, while only about 28,000 of them have a tax identification number with the IRS.

“If you repair a car and you return it to a U.S. highway, you must have a DOT number,” Hendler said of his envisioned industry future. “In the name of consumerism, we need to have a way to communicate with all the body shops that repair vehicles.”

Hendler thinks that with the results in Tuesday’s midterm election shaking up Washington, D.C., it’s “very likely” that Congress will agree to extend the DOT’s regulatory reach to include body shops. Hendler said the only shops that would oppose such a measure are not complying with EPA and IRS guidelines.

“Remember, [Al] Capone wasn’t convicted of any crime. It was the IRS that got him,” Hendler reminded the CIC audience, to laughter.

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