Case Study: Cook's Collision Centers – Fast Forward
Switch 16 high-productivity shops to a new waterborne system in less than three months? The pros at Cook's Collision took it all in stride.
With 16 locations in northern California and about 300 employees, Cook's Collision is among the largest family-owned collision repair companies in the country. But while the company has strong traditions and a proud heritage, they wouldn't dream of clinging to the past.
That's why, when they decided there was a better paint partner for their many high productivity, high-end shops, they decided to not only "convert with confidence," but also with impressive speed.
Prior to June 2008, the 16 Cook's Collision Centers were utilizing competitive waterborne and solvent-based products. But PPG had a compelling offer: an excellent product and value-added services that could keep the company moving—rapidly—toward the future.
"PPG value-added services were definitely part of the equation," says Mike Barber, chief operating officer. "We looked at a number of other paint companies, and no one offered the total package that PPG did."
The switch began, in earnest, last June. "It was a total team effort," says PPG Regional Manager, Mark Juell. "This is probably the best example I have ever seen of people completely coming together for a transition that was amazingly smooth."
The conversion team utilized the PPG "Convert with Confidence" plan to map out a strategy that minimized disruptions at each location.
Each painter and painter's assistant attended a training session on Friday. While they were in the classroom getting hands-on experience with the product, an installation team was busy converting each booth and mixing station to Envirobase® High Performance basecoat. On Monday morning, the painters arrived on the scene and began spraying the new system. A PPG Territory Manager remained with each painter for 3-5 days to answer any questions and coach each painter through any situations that arose.
Minimal equipment changes were needed, with only modest modification to the air circulation system, and the addition of new spray guns. They even formulated a plan to forward unused inventory of old product to pre-conversion locations, minimizing waste.
It was remarkably seamless," says Cook's Collision Area Manager, Frank Quadrato. "There were simply not a lot of problems, including with color match. We found the system to fit well with our expectations."
What about productivity? "Although it's early, it certainly looks like we are headed in the right direction," says Quadrato. "Both productivity and profitability are rising, and we are confident that we've made the right choice for our shops." Cook's Collision Area Manager, Ron Warren, found the PPG waterborne system very easy to use. "It is as easy, or easier than solvent-based systems," he says. "From the orientation of the metallics to the layout of the color, the PPG system is very simple to use."
Repairability is another factor that Warren appreciates about the new system. "With other systems, if you have a slight imperfection in the finish, you have to wait—sometimes until the next day—to address it. With the PPG Envirobase HP product, you can get right back on it, and you haven't missed a beat." Being in an area where the temperature sometimes climbs above 100°F, Warren was glad to see that, even on extremely hot days, the product performed just as effectively as on an average day.
As a top-level manager, what Mike Barber also finds appealing is the PPG MVP Business Development training and other value-added services. "We are in the process of rolling out the MVP Green Belt Training program, and expect to have that process complete by the end of next year." Participation in this program will help shop managers improve cycle time and efficiencies and reduce costs through continuous process improvement.
Barber also cites PPG OEM connection as a factor influencing the company's decision to partner with PPG. "We have strong relationships with dealers from a wide variety of auto brands—everything from Ford to Jaguar—and PPG's strong position with car makers only stands to enhance our ability to serve those customers."
What's next for Cook's? "We're looking forward to working with PPG on ways to help us further fine-tune our business," says Barber. The old adage, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" does not apply here. Instead, Cook's Collision seems to subscribe to the theory, "if you're coasting, you're going downhill."