By Jeff Sanford
Toronto, Ontario -- August 31, 2017 -- In this week's edition of Friday Fun we look at one bodyshop owner who got out of the collision business and into the world of legalized pot, the boom in dealer repair work, how Hurricane Harvey left behind a vast number of waterlogged vehicles and much, much more!
- A report by The Mercury News tells the story of San Rafael, California resident, Laura Bertolli, the owner of a family collision repair business started by her father. Bertolli Sr. came to California as an immigrant and started Bertolli's Auto Body Shop in 1971. Laura bought the business from him in 1996. She had a tough go at first. According to the story, “The transition was not easy for a woman in the male-dominated auto shop industry. Laura Bertolli recalls all six of her male employees refusing to work for a woman and quitting.”
Now, according to the report, she's shifting the focus of the business from collision repair to ... you guessed it ... marijuana. "Though I love cars, it's more a family business I went into," Bertolli was quoted as saying. According to the story, "With last year's voter-approved legalization of recreational marijuana throughout California, Bertolli knew her days were numbered at her auto garage.”
- Houston residents continue to navigate the giant bowl of water that city has become. The Attorney General's office, flooded with complaints of price-gouging, noted the worst case: At one convenience store drivers were being charged $20 a gallon for gas. Ouch.
- Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation, was recently on CNBC, talking about the vast number of waterlogged vehicles in the Houston region thanks to the deluge from Hurricane Harvey. He was quoted as saying, "Thousands upon thousands of vehicles have been destroyed ... [and] have to be scrapped.” A report on Zero Hedge notes that it may be a long time before all those cars can even make their way into the salvage stream: “Katrina damaged 500,000-600,000 vehicles in August 2005 But the greater Houston area is five times as populous as New Orleans was at that time. It may be 2-3 months or longer until damaged vehicles are sold at auction.”
- An interesting story on Bloomberg discussed the ways in which the auto aftermarket sector has changed since the onset of the 2008 recession. The reporter on the story started out on a journey to find out why, even though auto sales have declined, in the US this year, “... revenues are rising at dealerships and auto-parts stores.” According to the story, "... older vehicles grinding out more miles each month require repairs and replacement parts ... Car dealers didn't use to handle so much repair work. But when the auto market last contracted in 2008 and 2009, new car retailers looking for a revenue boost improved their service business to win share from independent shops. They've managed to keep a lot of that profitable work even as new vehicle sales recovered. It really goes to the fundamentals of how the industry has changed since the last recession. It's becoming more diversified."
- Customer satisfaction with automobiles fell this past year according to the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). According to the survey, driver satisfaction was down overall, but foreign-made vehicles continue to have the highest driver satisfaction.
According to a report on Business Insider, “... 77 percent of the above-average nameplates in the ACSI are imports. Overall, the gap between international and domestic manufacturers has widened because of the downturn for US cars ... Toyota is the highest-scoring company in both the mass-market category and among luxury vehicles.”