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Registration Opens for the 3rd Annual HD Repair Forum

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Registration for the HD Repair Forum is now open. Last year’s event experienced a forty percent increase in attendance and has quickly established itself as the can’t-miss event for the heavy-duty collision repair industry. 

The third annual conference is set to take place Tuesday and Wednesday, March 24th & 25th, 2020 in Fort Worth, Texas, at the Worthington Renaissance Hotel. The program will follow a similar format as last year’s event, spanning two days with presentations from OEMs, insurers, and other industry leaders during each morning’s general sessions. 

Attendees will gain valuable insight into industry trends allowing them to make better business decisions today and in the future. Afternoon break-out sessions will provide attendees an opportunity to choose classes that best address their individual or business needs. These sessions are geared towards executives, shop owners, managers, and company leaders. 

Throughout the two days, there will be extensive networking opportunities allowing shop owners, insurers, appraisers, OEMs, paint manufacturers, information providers and equipment and service companies to build relationships, conduct business, and solve problems.

To register for early bird rates and gain unique access to equipment suppliers, break-out sessions, and networking opportunities dedicated to the commercial vehicle collision repair industry, follow this link: https://www.eiseverywhere.com/hdrf2020

For additional information, please visit www.hdrepairforum.com or contact us at: www.hdrepairforum.com/contact-us

Sponsorship and advertising opportunities are now available. Reach out to Brian Nessen or Jennie Lenk.

About HD Repair Group

HD Repair Group offers a dedicated source of focused information for those involved in collision repair work for heavy-duty/commercial vehicles, primarily in classes 5, 6, 7, and 8. This community is where shop owners, executives, managers, technicians, estimators, and other industry stakeholders will find the latest news, tips, tactics, trends and best practices in the heavy-duty collision repair industry. The HD Repair Group offers numerous ways of delivering this information including an annual conference, a monthly e-newsletter, webinars, videos, and social channels for networking. 

Heavy-Duty Collision Repair Gaining Attention and Support

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Collision repair is a segment of the transportation industry that does not get a lot of attention. Historically, there has been a lack of training, information, and support. For many similar collision repair industries, including automotive, emergency, commercial, and recreational vehicles this has been the case. Why?

Collision repair is usually an afterthought. Energy and investment is placed on developing new vehicle technology. There is a never-ending race to make vehicles lighter, stronger, safer, and more fuel efficient. Recently the term ADAS was nothing more than some jumbled letters on a Scrabble game board. Today you can’t go to a trade show or read an article without being exposed to advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and electric vehicles. Another important trend in this industry; Autonomous vehicles.

While all of this technology is absolutely necessary and part of the evolution of the industry, at some point, these vehicles will need to be repaired. The industry has done a great job ensuring that technicians (mechanics) are prepared to service and maintain trucks. Keeping these vehicles on the road and operating is vital to our economy and to those that rely upon this industry to make a living. A truck sitting in a service bay is costing someone money.

Understanding that a vehicle out of service is lost revenue, more attention needs to be placed on the truck sitting in a collision repair facility awaiting parts. And what about the truck that has tens of thousands of dollars in collision damage awaiting repair from a technician that does not have any information on how to properly repair it?

As vehicles become equipped with more safety features, such as ADAS, or newer substrates that are lighter and stronger, information and training has never been more critical. In today’s collision repair facility, it’s a daily struggle to find and order parts and identify proper repair procedures. An independent collision shop could wait several days just to obtain parts prices. If you talk to insurance companies, they will tell you that the single biggest concern they have for their insureds is cycle time. Cycle time is defined as the number of days it takes for the vehicle owner to get his/her truck back on the road. For those that have had their vehicles in a collision shop, it would not be uncommon for a truck to be down for weeks. In some extreme examples it could be months.

As an industry, we need to work together to address these issues. We should be seeking solutions to reduce cycle time and put vehicles safely back on the road. We should continually be looking for solutions that ensure technicians have the knowledge and equipment needed to properly repair vehicles.    

In the spring of 2017, a dedicated source of focused information for the heavy-duty collision repair industry, the HD Repair Forum, was established to address these challenges. The HD Repair Forum’s purpose is to improve the narrative for repairers, insurers, OEM’s, paint manufacturers, parts suppliers, dealers and other industry stakeholders via a website, newsletter, conference, and other information tools.

The first HD Repair conference was held in April 2018 and featured technical and management training from some of the most well-respected companies and presenters in the industry. Executives from Navistar and Peterbilt discussed their new vehicle technology and the challenges repairers will face in the future. Co-located meetings, such as AkzoNobel’s 20 Group, were held during the same week and brought in some of the best repairers from the United States and Canada. The vendor expo gave high visibility to organizations committed to serving and improving the industry.

“Our goal is simple,” states Brian Nessen, President of the HD Repair Forum. “Provide the heavy-duty collision repair industry with an avenue for obtaining information and encourage collaboration. We want to facilitate safe, proper, and efficient repairs of all vehicles, and help the industry prepare for the future.”

The HD Repair Forum provides individuals and companies an opportunity to meet others, share experiences and best practices, and gain knowledge from manufacturers, trainers, and educators. The 2019 conference was held last April and experienced a 40% attendance increase, and brought in increased support and participation from several OEM’s including Daimler Trucks North America, Volvo, Navistar, and Peterbilt.

The 2020 conference returns to Fort Worth on March 24th & 25th. Companies like Axalta Coating Systems and AkzoNobel will also be co-hosting their spring Business Council and 20-Group meetings that same week.

To stay up to date on participation opportunities as an attendee, vendor, or consultant, sign-up to receive the organization’s monthly e-newsletter here

NPO Dedicated to Increasing Women’s Presence in the Trucking Industry Hits Conference Attendance Record

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Companies and individuals from across the trucking industry gathered in Dallas, TX in early October for the Women in Trucking’s ever-growing Accelerate! conference. 

Over the course of three days, more than 1,000 women and men gathered in the downtown Dallas, Sheraton hotel to educate themselves on how to push the gender gap forward for females throughout the trucking industry. Topics related to leadership, professional development, HR/talent management, operations, sales and marketing, and even professional driver strategies were available to attendees. 

The purpose of the organization and its annual event is “to encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments, and minimize obstacles faced by women working in the industry.” General sessions brought the audience motivational and insightful perspectives on the various paths one can walk along the path to success in this industry.

The focus of the event is teaching others how to increase the presence of women within the industry. General sessions and break out sessions alike focused in on understanding and overcoming gender bias, breaking down advancement ceilings facing women, and providing strategies for transitioning perceptions.

Taking the stage during the opening presentations were three women with decades of experience in the trucking industry. They highlighted the need for anyone who wants to be successful in their career to be flexible with new opportunities, be intentional and verbal with their goals and aspirations, and be bold enough to build relationships with those who can help them in achieving their goals.  

Ramona Hood, current Vice President of Operations, Planning & Strategy, FedEx Custom Critical shared her path to this position and strongly encouraged the audience to focus on three things when looking to take their career to the next level. “Be comfortable with the uncomfortable; share your goals and career aspirations with others, and find a mentor.” She noted how critical it was to have someone who knows your  work and is willing to cosign for you, when you are not in the room.

Recipient of the “Most Influential Woman in Trucking” in 2018, Angela Eliacostas, President & Founder of AGT Logistics addressed the audience following Hood. Her path in trucking began as a little girl and encompassed driving her dad’s truck around back and fueling it up for his weeks-long trips. A plight of a single mother of four boys didn’t keep her from being brave. She took a “leap of faith”, as she explained it, and started her own trucking company “All Girls Transportation (AGT),” highlighting the woman owned nature of the company. The Organization has since evolved to AGT Global Logistics, a 3rd party logistics firm.  

The event’s 3rd and final opening presenter was Ellen Voie. Ellen is the president and co-founder of Women in Trucking (WIT). Ellen briefed the audience on her dream to see more women grow and be active in the industry. WIT as an organization has been around for 12 years and has grown its membership numbers at both the corporate and individual levels. “This is only the 5th year we have held the Accelerate! Conference. I can’t believe I’m speaking to 1,000 people in the audience right now. I’m going to set a goal for the 2020 conference; Let’s get to 1500!” The audience erupted in show of their support. 

The remainder of the 3-day conference encompassed more than 60 sessions of motivational and mind-transformational discussions on topics like: gender diversity, leadership, professional development, HR/talent management, operations, sales and marketing, and professional drivers. Check back on the HD Repair Forum website for more stories detailing some of those sessions. 

If interested in taking part in the 2020 conference, save the dates for a trip to Dallas, Texas, September 23-25, 2020. 

About Women in Trucking
The Women In Trucking Association is a non-profit organization focused on the transportation and logistics industry. Our mission? To encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments and minimize obstacles faced by women working in the trucking industry.

About HD Repair Forum
HD Repair Group offers a dedicated source of focused information for those involved in collision repair work for heavy-duty/commercial vehicles, primarily in classes 5, 6, 7, and 8. This community is where shop owners, executives, managers, technicians, estimators, and other industry stakeholders will find the latest news, tips, tactics, trends and best practices in the heavy-duty collision repair industry. The HD Repair Group offers numerous ways of delivering this information including an annual conference, a monthly e-newsletter, webinars, videos, and social channels for networking.

Training or Development – What do we really need? Are you ready for some in-depth analysis

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Heavy Duty shop owners from coast to coast talk about training required for their shop. Consider the terminology “training”. This terminology creates a certain mind-set in terms of results desired with the approach to the topic from the person speaking the words. Perhaps it is time to re-examine what words need to be embraced to get our mind-set focused properly to allow us to really move the shop forward considering all of today’s realities.

I would like to submit for your consideration the following definitions:

TRAINING: Limiting the behavioral responses to a given stimulus.

DEVELOPMENT: To increase behavioral alternatives to the same stimulus.

It has often been thought that “technical training” was always required for a HD shop in order to learn which “right way” is required to do it. This worked very well in the “mechanical” world years ago. I am submitting to you that it is not technical “training” that is required today but in fact today it is technical “development” that is required. The on-going development of building a technician’s diagnostic skill level and knowledge does not lead to a “right way” to do something, but in fact it leads to providing many alternatives to explore an approach, in order to discover the correct solution to the problem. The proper “development” and building of this knowledge, in the end, allows the technician to provide time effective solutions, which in turn, ends up serving the HD shop’s client in a very professional manner. Without the proper “development” of this technical knowledge, which must be recognized as continuous and on-going, and instead where management is only focusing on limited “training”, ends up producing results where the technician “fumbles around” for a number of hours without the proper solution. Consider “training” is specific, whereas “development” is all encompassing. Think about it…. no Heavy Duty shop can afford a training process today, they require a development process.

It is also well spoken in our industry that management requires business training. I submit that “Business Seminar Training” today, in fact, only relates to one facet of the business, such as a product knowledge session. Consider that other “Business Seminar Training” produces “hype” to create short-term immediate sales, or activity, for the sponsor of the “training,” as it creates the conditions for the attendees to become very motivated. Consider that “hype-type” motivation is now out-of-date in terms of addressing the real problems of our industry and is truly a waste of money in terms of a vision or culture for a HD shop. This type of “hype-training” always has a habit of disappearing within two to three weeks, if not sooner. The statement must be made that “hype-training” lacks the “test of time”.

I submit to you that we do not need a “fire under the bum” type motivational training, which is an exterior motivation format that gets an individual “pumped” that quite frankly worked 10 to 20 years ago in the much simpler commodity era of our industry. Today’s shop business realities are very in-depth knowledge based, focused, very complex, and all encompassing. This is why “fire under the bum” type training disappears too easily. It has no substance.

Consider today, we need a “fire in the belly”. This is different. It creates the results environment of learning business knowledge at a depth level effectively enough that it creates a gnawing at ones inside gut, which in turn, creates the personal determination, a personal self-motivation if you will, to get on with it and get it done. It is also time consuming and not an “over-night visit”. The atmosphere and attitude approach required to create this gnawing is called “Business Development”, not “Business Training”. Development provides the tools in the form of a proven business concept for the owner to embrace coupled with the on-going availability of business knowledge to support its depth. The most important key word here is… support…. which in turn allows for sustaining behavioral development.

Behavioral development is very personal, in that it is totally adaptable to the individual’s own personality. Development is exceptionally in-depth in its presentation and especially its content message. It creates a picture in one’s mind as to what can be. Business Development does not “limit behavioral responses” but it, in turn, “increases behavioral responses” due to its depth of perspective. It has many angles to be examined by the individual in its understanding which allows for the development to be achieved. Business development understanding is not just spending a few hours at night or attending a one-day stand, but, in fact, encompasses many days in order to understand its focus.

Don’t be surprised if you have to read the above few paragraphs two or three times as it is important to understand the differences between “training” and “development”. I spent a lot of time trying to create the sentences I have written here to try to get across my point. The explanations truly are in-depth but I must admit, difficult to explain in this article format. My hope is that you begin to recognize that this is not a simple topic.

HD Collision Repair Task Forces Established at 2019 TMC Meeting in Atlanta

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HD Collision Repair Task Forces Established at 2019 TMC Meeting in Atlanta

During the 2019 TMC Spring Exhibition held in Atlanta March 18-21, 2019, “collision repair” continued its growth, as a topic for task force meetings. Fleets, suppliers, OEMs, and repairers gathered at the first-ever hosted task force meeting dedicated to this segment of the transportation industry. This meeting’s two Collision Task Forces were chaired by Joey Fasset of PennFleet Corporation and Chris Sterwerf of Fairfield Auto & Truck Service, Inc. Both meetings generated conversation about the opportunities participants have to create industry-vetted documents, which would benefit fleets by helping them to understand the steps and processes that go into repairing their valuable assets post-collision.

Joey Fasset’s Task Force, “Heavy-Duty Collision Repair Roadmap,” reviewed a document that will provide a bird’s-eye view of the navigation process before and after a collision. This document will aid fleets before and during the repair process. It starts before the accident and notes that fleets should identify key repair partners and their capabilities along commonly used routes. Following, it moves on to the moment after a collision. It lays out the need to document the scene, highlights evidence- preservation considerations, and assists in the decision making steps for: drivability or towing options and choosing a collision repairer with the knowledge, capability, equipment, and processes, that will return the vehicle back to its pre-accident state of safety.  It also includes how to review and compare estimates, while noting items that some repairers overlook. Emphasis is placed on encouraging Fleets to make sure they are asking right questions and minimizing the liability concerns of a secondary accident, which may have been caused by a previously-made improper repair.

Chris Sterwerf’s Task Force, formerly titled, “Heavy-Duty Collision Repair Guidelines,” will be changing its title to “Refinishing To Maximize Adhesion,” and will be co-chaired by Marcelino “Marcy” Fernandez of Axalta Coatings Systems. This Task Force will focus on the steps and procedures required to refinish the various substrates that HD Collision Repairers face. It may touch on non-included items like the set-up of scaffolding, conversion coatings, feather, prime and block, removal of release agents, removal of unstable coatings, subsequent masking, and much more.

Sterwerf’s Task Force is looking to continue to spin off recommendations for other Task Force’s that involve HD Collision Repair Guidelines.  In fact during the Spring meeting, a new Task Force was voted on to be launched for “Frame Correction Guidelines.”  Upon final approval from TMC Leadership, the Task Force will be chaired by TARA (Truck-Frame & Axle Repair Association) President, William Hinchcliffe. It will likely be co-chaired by a frame equipment provider representative. Items likely to be tackled by this Task Force are acceptable frame tolerances, defining conditions and terminology, identifying items that should be removed prior to corrections, and more.  Additional Task Force possibilities, which were brought up during the meeting included: pre- and post-repair diagnostic scans, fastener usage, foams and adhesives, trailer repair, suspension and steering repairs, mobile column lifts for collision repair, among others.

According to Homer Hogg, TMC Chairman of the S.16 Service Provider Study Group, it might be possible for HD Collision Repair to grow into its own Study Group if this positive momentum continues.

Chris Sterwerf, a strong voice for the heavy-duty collision repair industry has asked for help from the industry to support the development of these newest Task Forces. “We need volunteers from industry experts, equipment and service providers, and insurance companies to join in on the cause, so its success can come to fruition”  Chris believes that TMC is the voice of the customer and the fleets. “These documents will go a long way for the education of customers and fleets, and help them know what to look for to minimize their liability and speed-up the repairs to their assets. It will also reduce friction between shops and insurers, by creating documents with objective facts, thus eliminating the wide spectrum of subjective opinions and their potentially dangerous outcomes.”

To access documents that are already in place, which provide direction in collision repair, visit here. Here you also have the capability to add comments to these documents. We encourage repairers and other industry parties to do so.  For more information on how to get involved, you can fill out this form.

Women in Trucking – Another Opportunity for Women to Impact an Industry

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Photo courtesy of Deb Schroeder- Women in Trucking

The advancement of women in the workplace is an ongoing theme in the trades world. Organizations like Women’s Industry Network, TED Women, Women Auto Know, and others have come into existence in the last decade or more. These organizations empower women by providing guidance in overcoming adversity. In the trucking industry, a workforce that has been historically male-dominated, Women in Trucking has emerged.

Women in Trucking’s (WIT) mission is dedicated to encouraging the establishment and promotion of women as professionals within all sectors of the trucking industry. This includes professions ranging from logistics operations, to OEM engineering positions, to administrative or leadership roles with suppliers of the industry, to even truck drivers themselves.

The organization supports its aim by assisting in this transition. WIT identifies and eliminates obstacles that inhibit women from involvement or progression. WIT takes the mission a step further and also celebrates female leaders already within the industry and purposefully recognizes companies that support diversity.

Earlier this month a group of nearly 800 women and men, from different sectors of the trucking industry gathered at the Embassy Suites in Frisco, Texas for the WIT Accelerate! Conference. In its fourth year of execution, the conference saw an almost doubled increase in attendance from the year prior. The increase in attendance alone boasts the progress of women within this industry. Conference offerings included a small trade show-style floor, networking opportunities, educational sessions for professional development, and informational sessions clarifying the state of the industry.

Women in leadership positions, like Kelly Goebert and Lauren Attainasi from Daimler Trucks North America, spoke to attendees about the progress the OEM has made in both technological and electrification advancements on its trucks. They also shared the hand they have in that progress and discussed how they manage such influential changes in their professional and personal lives.

The conference celebrated women’s progress in transportation with two evening receptions. One, which was preceded by an award ceremony recognizing WIT’s “Top 50 Companies for Women to Work for in Transportation”. According to the event website, the companies receiving the award have established “corporate cultures that foster gender diversity; competitive compensation and benefits; flexible hours and work requirements; professional development opportunities; and career advancement opportunities.”

WIT continuously looks to promote the opportunities for women within the trucking industry. A recent notable endeavor is the execution of a longtime aspiration of WIT founder, Ellen Voie; the creation of Clare, the Trucking Doll. Clare’s purpose is to provide young girls with a new perception of the trucking industry. One that fosters the understanding that, “The world is wide open for girls today… (and) whatever they want to be is just great – whether that’s a teacher or an ad exec or a professional driver.” Clare can be purchased via this link or through AmazonSmile.

For more information visit www.womenintrucking.org