AkzoNobel released the fifth episode of its Automotive Insights: Refinish podcast, which covers the vehicle refinishing industry’s challenges and its future. With demand for driver-assisted and electric vehicles (EVs) increasing and repairs becoming increasingly complex, AkzoNobel says collision body repair shops are having to re-tool with capital-intensive equipment to compete. A similar challenge is talent and the need to rapidly upskill the existing workforce, while coping with labor shortages fueled by the recent pandemic and the imminent retirement from the industry of more than 100,000 baby boomers. According to AkzoNobel, people will be key to future success.
Michael Giarrizzo, president and CEO of DCR Systems, said that greater innovation and closer partnerships between manufacturers, vehicle refinishers, and the supply chain are critical, but so too are his people.
“People sometimes fear change, and fear doing things differently,” Michael said, “and they become almost paralyzed. The vast majority of vehicle body repair shops operate in a very similar way, and it may have served the decades of the past well, but it's not going to serve today or the future well at all.”
“Keep challenging the team to come up with more ideas,” Giarrizzo continued. “Many of those ideas will be similar, from any team anywhere in the world. But engaging the team in getting the preparation right will reduce waste and redundancies in the system. The body shop will become leaner and more efficient, and customer service will improve.”
Another bonus in a world starved of labor, Giarrizzo said, comes from removing commission-based pay. “The experienced technicians are far more welcoming of apprentices and entry-level workers,” Giarrizzo concludes. “They are helping to build a more sustainable workforce for the future and a more profitable, sustainable business, which can move forward and meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.”
Giarrizzo was sharing a platform with Graham Threlfall, Global Key Account manager at AkzoNobel, as one of a regular series of podcasts hosted by Graham. “As with any industry, attracting and retaining employees is difficult, and persuading people to change even more so, especially when business is doing well. But in the wake of a technology tsunami, you need to rethink the way you work with people – your staff and your supply chain partners – to succeed.”
Listen to the full Automotive Insights: Refinish podcast here.