During its April 2022 Open Board Meeting, the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) announced a collaboration with KECO Body Repair Products to gift a tool and training package to one collision industry educational institution per quarter.
Schools are nominated by SCRS Affiliate Associations. The affiliates were encouraged to nominate schools in their market that are delivering valuable programs for their members through an online submission process and selected by KECO. The recipient schools will be awarded the KECO Level 2 Glue Pull Repair System + On-Location Training.
The objective of the program was to help provide back to the industry and connect schools and future technicians with associations and collision repair centers. The on-location training, which would take place at the selected schools, would also be open to association members as well as space permits.
During the July 2022 SCRS open board meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Chris White, President of KECO expressed that he was astounded by the caliber of submissions made by the Affiliate Associations and elected to award the prize package to two schools for this quarter, one in a major metro market and another in a smaller more rural market.
The first recipient, nominated by Julie Lombardo, Executive Director for the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of Illinois (AASP-IL) was College of Lake County – Grayslake Campus (CLC) Automotive Collision Repair program.
The second recipient, nominated by Mariah Litton, Executive Director for the Montana Collision Repair Association (MCRA) was City College, MSU Billings, Collision Repair & Refinishing Technology program.
CLC’s first collision repair course was delivered in the fall of 1977, “Auto Body Repair 1”, under the Auto Body Repair (ABR) program. In the fall of 2008, the program was into a 2-year associate degree program, as well as 4 specialty certificates, and at that time Octavio Cavazos was hired as the first full-time instructor to lead the program.
By 2010 the ABR program course offerings expanded to include the delivery of both day and night course schedules and in 2013 the program shifted to “Automotive Collision Repair Technology” (ACR) with an entirely updated course line up. The ACR program curriculum includes I-CAR curriculum, manufacture specific repair procedures, and follows the NATEF Collision Repair Tasks for all areas of collision repair.
“The ACR program is constantly improving,” according to Lombardo, detailing out water-borne refinishing, aluminum panel repair processes and aluminum welding, Advance Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) training as latest technologies included in the curriculum.
“We moved away from stud pulling many years ago because it wasn’t the proper procedure for today’s advanced vehicles” shared Octavio Cavazos, who now serves as the Department Chair/Instructor. Automotive Collision Repair, College of Lake County – Grayslake Campus. “We haven’t had a proper repair procedure for dent pulling since moving away. After researching, we discovered glue pulling is now the viable repair method. In order to safely teach dent repair to our students, we decided this was the method we would go with.
“In implementing this into the curriculum, we selected KECO’s system because it was versatile and best equipped to deliver dent pulling at an educational facility. With KECO equipment, we can introduce, instruct, and master the skill in a short period of time.”
“The fact that our training program has also been selected in return by KECO only proves that it is as innovative and advanced as we strive to achieve. Besides being chosen, the training we are receiving from them is an opportunity that is truly priceless. Long after that day, the impact of this training will be felt. As our students begin their careers, they will have the opportunity to take this hands-on manufacturing training into the industry, and our instructors will be able to teach it to the next generation of students for years to come.”
“AASP-I is committed to the cutting-edge technological advancement of the collision repair industry,” shared AASP-I President, Bob Gottfred. “The synergies represented in introducing the KECO Advanced Glue Pulling System at the College of Lake County are emblematic. Merging high-end technical training at the college level prepares graduating students with the knowledge to hit the ground running in their careers. It is a win-win for shop owners and apprentices as well. Helping to provide training and career paths for new dedicated, quality collision repair technicians is a paramount priority of AASP-I. We are delighted to know that SCRS and KECO are providing the framework for this, and to work with the fantastic team at CoLC to advance our common goals.”
The three full-time program instructors are Octavio Cavazos, David Garcia, and Donald Myers, are now supported by 5 adjuncts that come from various backgrounds in the collision repair industry.
In the fall of 2020, the ACR program launched its apprenticeship program, in partnership with Enterprise Holdings’ Collision Engineering initiative.
The nomination from MCRA for MSU Billings stood out to White, as the Collision Repair & Refinishing Technology program is the only remaining collision repair program in the State of Montana.
According to Litton, “Mr. Steve Wodrich has worked extremely hard to cultivate a program that creates top-notch collision repair professionals,” Litton said in the release. “This requires immense efforts on his part. Steve works tirelessly to not only recruit new students to the program but to help his current students excel. Steve is constantly meeting with Collision Repair Facility owners and managers to discuss the structure of his program. He works relentlessly to make sure his program is top-notch. This, in part, requires Steve to rely on the generosity of donors to help provide funding and equipment. When Steve is lacking funding or equipment, he makes up for it by providing the highest caliber educational experience possible.”
Litton described Wodrich as being “diligent” about connecting and working with the Montana Collision Repair Association to ensure his students are trained to meet the needs of any collision repair facility they enter upon graduating his program.
“Mr. Wodrich’s dedication to teaching his students how to be masters of their craft is clear in their success within the industry and at Skills USA. Collision Repair facility owners and manners are constantly singing Steve’s praises. Saying that his students are well prepared, professional, and well versed on the importance of following OEM guidelines. Steve makes a point of engraining the need to perform safe and proper repairs for all his students.”
Litton shared that in addition to being excellent candidates for employment – with a focus on safe and proper repairs – students who have attended the City College MSU Billings Collision Repair & Refinishing Technology are often the top-tier competitors at Skills USA; including Dylan Miller, who claimed first in Automotive Refinishing Technologies at this year’s Skills USA Competition.
“Steve works extremely hard to ensure his students have access to all of the current OEM repair procedures, I-CAR training procedures, and equipment” despite having the largest budget to allocate for equipment.
“The Montana Collision Repair Association is extremely honored to learn that City College MSU Billings Collision Repair & Refinishing Technology has been selected by the Society of Collision Repair Specialists and KECO to receive this kit and training,” said Litton. “This generous donation will be extremely beneficial towards the education of students attending the program. We are grateful for the opportunity to continue to improve our students’ educational experience and provide collision repair facilities all throughout Montana as well as surrounding states with top tier repair technicians.”
“Thank you so much for selecting our auto body program to receive these tools and training,” shared Wodrich. “The biggest struggle I face in running this program is having enough budget to get the latest tools and training possible. If it were not for the generosity of companies like KECO I do not know how I would be able to maintain the resources needed to continue training future technicians. This will be a tremendous help to us as we move forward.
“I actually was in the room when this was announced and was beyond excited for our students,” added Bruce Halcro, SCRS Chairman, Owner of Capital Collision in Helena, Montana and Past-Chairman of the MCRA. “This is a great opportunity to have some of the latest repair technology available for students in Montana, and Chris and his team at KECO are doing a great service to the collision industry in making their equipment available to the students preparing for a future in our industry. I’m grateful we can be a part of it at SCRS, and I’m really excited for Steve and his School. Great job to Mariah for the thoughtful nomination of City College.”
The KECO Level 2 GPR System is a complete solution from rough out to finish in dent repair. The versatile system works equally well on both steel and aluminum panels. The surface area and variety of shapes in the pulling tabs create the least invasive & most efficient dent repair possible today. The system creates no collateral damage in executing the repair. The factory finish on both sides of the panel is undisturbed.
The system allows large dents to be efficiently reduced to a ready for glaze state and small hail type dents to be brought to a filler less level, ready for paint.
The KECO 6C Process is the foundation for the one-day training course that will enable the student to become an effective GPR technician upon completion. The KECO metal manipulation theory is rooted in the concept of creating metal flow through efficient movement of low areas and the simultaneous reduction of high areas of the dent.
In classroom theory will be proven hands-on in the shop immediately following the classroom presentation.
The next school selection announcement by SCRS will take place during the 2022 SEMA Show, in Las Vegas, Nev.