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Mirka’s sales team takes PPG MVP ‘White Belt’ training

The Mirka sales team at a recent meeting. The company's sales force has recently completed PPG's 'White Belt' training to better understand the needs of their customers.

By Jeff Sanford

St. Sauveur, Quebec — February 8, 2-16 — Repairers know Mirka as a provider of sandpaper and abrasives to the collision repair industry. So why would the company’s staff take the MVP Lean White Belt training session from PPG? It’s actually a simple answer: to get to know the needs of their clients better.

The MVP Lean White Belt training session was hosted by Frank Lefebvre of PPG Automotive Paints in St. Sauveur, Quebec. John Booth is the President of Mirka. In a recent conversation with Collision Repair magazine he explained why he had his people—who don’t work in a shop—take the course.

“It’s important for us to not just walk into the shop and sell sandpaper. Our people have to know what that company does,” says Booth. The course provides an overview of how facilities typically run, and sets out how a collision repair centre can run a leaner business. “It’s about how to look down on a business, take the roof off of the shop and look at it from three stories up. We can look down and see where the bottlenecks are, and how we can help the client get lean and synced up,” says Booth. “What we’re focusing on with our clients is improving inefficiencies and doing a better job. That’s a benefit for our sales team.”

The team from Mirka already knew shop operations fairly well, so that part of the course a bit of a refresher. Booth had nothing but praise for the content and the way in which Lefebvre taught the course.

“It’s a very well-taught course. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t know Frank in advance. But he was awesome. He was very, very good. It was a very well done course.” Going a step beyond core duties to help clients in ways they might not expect is just part of doing business these days. “It’s that idea from the founder of Toyota, you have to constantly get leaner,” says Booth. “We can help with that.”

The White Belt session is a unique part of a larger training program. Typically, the technicians and other “on floor” people in a collision repair facility taking the PPG training program go through the Green Belt course, which is three full days of training in lean production techniques and Six Sigma concepts.

“In these sessions you learn all about lean Six Sigma and how to really trim down on those shop processes,” says Frank Lefebrve, the instructor of the session. “But once the guys from the shop have gone through this Green Belt program, the White Belt session is offered to all the rest of those in the shop, be it sales people or admin types. Basically, the White Belt program is an overview of Green Belt, but done in one day.”

That is, the employees in a shop who would not benefit from the full Green Belt session, but would still benefit from learning about lean work flow processes, can take this course.

“It’s a great way to get everyone in the shop on the same page, and thinking about these issues,” says Lefebrve. “This is what Mirka was looking for. They are often in the shops and so they want to know what shops are looking for. This helps them understand what those on the floor are thinking about and allows them to speak the same language. It’s a great way to align everyone involved. We cover things like, ‘What are the insurers looking for? What is the shop measured on? How can the shop can achieve results under pressure.’ These are the things everyone in the shop, not just those on the floor, needs to know.”

The course is a single shop event. It can be done in one full day, or two half days. Lefebrve says he does the course about eight to ten times a year. When asked how business is in Montreal these days, Booth referred to an experience many shop owners are having this weird and mild winter of 2016.

“With the weather it’s been a poor winter for body shops. But I’ve been surprised. The customers we deal with seem to be busy,” says Booth.

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