PPG Automotive Refinish & Commercial Coatings

Washington State's Precision Collision Fuels Growth With Water

One cannot help but feel optimistic after speaking with Greg Wright, president and COO of Precision Collision, 
a 17-store operation based in the Seattle area. From his vantage point as the leader of the largest MSO in the 

state of Washington, he sees plenty of opportunity—fueled, in part, by his shops’ recent conversion to a waterborne paint system.

“It’s just the right thing to do,” says Greg about Precision’s 2010 decision to switch to Envirobase® High Performance basecoat. “More than anything, this is a relationshipbased business and our customers—both the business-to-business and consumer ones—definitely see the value of using an environmentally-conscious product.”

Paying attention to relationships has definitely paid off. Despite flat growth in the industry overall, Precision Collision finished the first half of 2011 20% ahead of same-store sales for the preceding year. Currently the company operates 17 stores and seems poised for even further expansion.

After consulting last fall with the PPG regional team, and distributor Wesco Autobody Supply, Greg decided to convert each of Precision Collision’s shops to Envirobase® High Performance, and there’s been no looking back. “We sprayed the last solvent at each store on a Friday,” says marketing director, Mark Lovell. “On Monday, we were spraying waterborne at that store, and then moving on to convert the next shop.”

Advance training helped ensure a successful transition. Prior to the switch, each painter and painter’s helper attended one- or two-day training at a PPG Business Development Center. PPG representatives were also on hand to help out onsite during the week following conversion, and remained available for technical support in the weeks and months thereafter.

“Initially, I had concerns about equipment needs,” relates Greg, commenting on the conversion. “There seemed to be a lot of talk out there about blowers and fans and air moving equipment. But once our painters grew accustomed to waterborne, we found that other than handheld fans, there really weren’t any significant equipment changes needed.”

Greg is confident that each of his painters would likely give the move to waterborne a thumbs-up. “I’ve never heard anything but positive things about the choice,” Greg says. “It’s obviously a better product, but the fact that so many manufacturers are using water-based product in their assembly lines is also key.

“Why would an auto dealer refer work to a shop that isn’t using the same material as the original finish?”

Given the “greenness” of the Seattle area, it’s somewhat of a surprise that Precision

Collision is the first large MSO to convert to waterborne, and Greg is proud of the company’s leadership in this area. His past experience with mega retail chains (Costco, Fred Meyer, and Jo-Ann stores) has made him unafraid to challenge the status quo and given him a strong appreciation for strategic partnerships, such as the one he has with PPG. He is also keen on process improvement, standardization and business metrics which is one reason that key Precision Collision personnel are signed up to participate in PPG’s MVP Green Belt training in the near future.

Among the metrics that Precision Collision is most proud of is CSI (customer satisfaction index) that consistently hits the high 90s—across all stores. That is the sort of consistent customer experience that Greg strives for, because he knows it has an exponential effect on growth.

“Like any business,” says Greg, “ours is based on providing a good experience, a good product and a good price. But in collision repair, there’s another relationship—the one with insurers—that comes into play. At Costco, the customer didn’t care who was the fastest cashier.