Press Release (ePRNews.com) - CARLSBAD, Calif. - Mar 20, 2018 - NOTE: This October SPS profile was originally published in print in September 2017, and published online in October 2017.
Located in an old movie theater in Livonia, Michigan, the Bill Brown Ford Collision Center is expanding its operation to accommodate the 270–290 cars its employees repair every month and maintain its status as the #3 Ford dealer in new unit sales in the country.
Working closely with Ford Motor Co., which is located within 10 miles of the Ford World headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, this collision center is hitting its numbers month after month under the direction of body shop manager Joe Hershey.
Essentially, the color stays at the top of the pool, unlike with a solvent product where it sinks to the bottom. That’s where we get that sparkle and depth with PPG waterborne color.
Hershey has 33 years of experience in the collision industry and runs a crew of 35 people in a very competitive market, he said.
“In Motor City, 70 percent of all of the car dealerships have their own collision centers, unlike the rest of the country where it’s the opposite,” he said. “So, this is a very tough market, because we’re all competing for a lot of these same cars.”
The building where Bill Brown Ford Collision Center is today was built in 1962. In 2002, the Brown family purchased the theater and turned it into a body shop along with one of its used car departments.
“Over the years, people have come to share their stories about the movie theater,” Hershey said. “They tell me that they worked here making popcorn or saw ‘Star Wars’ here, and one guy told me about a hot date, so it’s pretty cool.”
With three painters and three helpers working in three separate paint teams, it’s a busy scene at Bill Brown Ford Collision Center. But by working closely with Mark Bono, the shop’s resident technical trainer, they’re doing things right. He is an I-CAR instructor and a trainer for PPG, so he knows of what he speaks when he talks about PPG’s ENVIROBASE® High-Performance paint system.
Hershey had used PPG for nearly 26 years at another collision center before coming onboard at Bill Brown Ford Collision Center back in 2010. In the summer of 2012, the shop had fulfilled its contractual obligation with its former paint company, and at that point decided to start looking around for its next one.
“There were two contestants, and PPG was one of them,” Hershey said. “The PPG people and Painter’s Supply gave us a presentation that really wowed us at their training facility in Wixom, Michigan. They let us know that they really wanted our business and they were extraordinarily professional about it.”
Once the people at Bill Brown Ford Collision Center were ready to switch over to PPG’s waterborne product, they wanted to become experts on how to achieve amazing results with the system.
“We took our paint crew to the PPG training course and also visited two shops spraying the product, observing for two days,” he said. “Very quickly, our painters became adept at using the product and learning all of the ins and outs of PPG waterborne basecoat.”
According to Bono, there are fewer intricacies involved with using Envirobase High-Performance base-coat and the product is more forgiving than its solvent cousin.
“When it comes to using solvent-based materials, much is dependent on the painter’s technique and the equipment he is using,” Bono said. “But with the waterborne product, you’re going to get more consistent performance and more uniformity without relying on a lot of technique, so it’s easier for the painters.
“When you spray solvent, the color that’s coming out of that gun is what you’re going to end up with. When waterborne completely dries, it’s going to look different from when it was sprayed. But, with the proper air movement you don’t have to wait long before you can see the final product. Once our painters were comfortable, they were able to build their confidence and really step up.”
Another reason why Hershey is happy to be using the Envirobase High- Performance paint system is the simple fact that it is a more planet-friendly product for the community and his employees alike.
“It is better for the environment and I respect that,” Hershey said. “When I go into that mixing room, there is a huge difference in the odor, and that’s a big plus. But in the end, if it didn’t work at a high level for us, we wouldn’t be using it. Saving money and time is a big deal, of course, but if it leads to compromising quality in any way, we’re not interested.”
Hershey and Bono both appreciate PPG’s patented anti-settle technology, which enables them to achieve better results across the board.
“Essentially, the color stays at the top of the pool, unlike with a solvent product where it sinks to the bottom,” Hershey said. “That’s where we get that sparkle and depth with PPG waterborne color.”
Bill Brown Ford Collision Center
Location: Livonia, MI
Company At A Glance…
Type: Collision Repair
Facility Employees: 35
In Business Since: 2002
Number of Locations: One
DRP Programs: Five
Largest Production Space: 53,000 square feet (combined)
PPG Automotive Refinish
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