Sep 192012

When it comes to codes and permits, requirements invariably will depend on where you are located – your jurisdiction (city, county and/or state).

Local governments usually select one of the following as their primary reference for paint booth requirements.

NFPA 33: Standard for Spray Application Using Flammable or Combustible Materials (National Fire Protection Association)

  • The most common code applying to paint booths
  • Defines how a spray booth is designed and constructed, airflow requirements and fire protection

IFC (International Fire Code)

  • Shorter and slightly modified version of NFPA 33
  • Commonly used in areas of international trade zones

IBC (International Building Code)

  • Similar to IFC code
  • Rarely used at this time

OSHA 29 – Occupational Health and Safety Requirements

  • Each state has OSHA or NIOSH laws and codes that cover worker safety, many of which reinstate the federal codes
  • The chapters about spray booths often follow NFPA 33, but NFPA 33 is usually revised before the federal OSHA code
  • The emphasis of this code is on worker safety, so there are more detailed requirements about ventilation
  • Every spray booth constructed in the US that is used in a workplace environment must comply with local OSHA codes
  • Spray booths are certified by the current NFPA, IFC or IBC code only when they are constructed, but must always comply with OSHA requirements.
 Posted by at 3:15 PM
Sep 192012

It seems that every single week now, one of the major multiple-shop collision operators has acquired yet another store.  Just today, Service King Collision Repair Centers announced the purchase of Express Autobody, a collision repair center headquartered in Georgetown, Texas.  Express Autobody becomes Service King’s 50th location in Texas, and its sixth collision center in the Austin marketplace.

Even with this record level of consolidation, the majority of collision repair shops are single-store, single operator.  But in the opinion of the team at, insurers are the single largest driving force (no pun intended) behind the consolidation trend.  Why?  Doing business with multiple-shop operators (MSOs) is substantially easier: single point of contact, consistency of product, strong KPI measuring systems, implementation of EDI cost savings, etc.

Consolidation is not unique to the collision repair industry.  Other industries, such as funeral homes, have also been industries having experienced waves of consolidation.  With current growth slowing and projected growth to be flat, overcapacity is developing which in turns can lead to declining profit margins.  Moreover, the single-operator represents nearly 9 out of 10 operators, so the industry is highly fragmented providing excellent opportunities for the best operators to gain share and further marginalize the bottom performers.  In the classic sense, the collision repair industry is in “survival of the fittest” mode and scale can help survive.

But all is not lost for the single-shop, single-operator model.  Business leaders have generally concluded that industries are fragmented (non-consolidated) for five general reasons:

  • Low barriers to entry
  • Lack of power advantages between buyers, suppliers and/or customers
  • No economies of scale
  • Regional issues: transportation costs, diverse markets, etc.
  • Regulatory issues

So the logic becomes, “Can I eliminate one of more of these industry dynamics to consolidate what otherwise appears to be unconsolidateable?”  Many folks have tried with fragmented industries in the past, such as funeral parlors, dry cleaners and lawn care.  The success has been mixed, at best.  Just because you have scale doesn’t mean you will achieve economies of scale or gain power over your suppliers.  And in today’s work where technology costs continue to decrease as does the cost to reach customers, a single-location collision repair shop should be able to uniquely define its business and target customers accordingly.

So will consolidation work out for consolidators?  It remains to be seen, but we at certainly do not believe the well operated, single-location collision repair shop will become a thing of the past.

 Posted by at 3:04 PM
Sep 112012

The use of waterborne paints was mandated in Europe and Canada nearly two decades ago.  In the early 1990s, California became the first US state to enact legislation to limit the amount of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and other potentially hazardous materials from paint, forcing California businesses to adopt the use of waterborne paint.  As more and more US states adopt regulations similar to California, paint manufacturers have worked to improvement their waterborne products along with end-user training and support.  These factors are contributing to the accelerating adoption rate of waterborne paints by the collision repair industry.  Moreover, as paint manufacturer promote waterborne paint, the cost of also supporting solvent based paints will become prohibitive, leading other industries, such as woodworking, to also begin using waterborne-based paint products.

Waterborne paint can be quickly contaminated with oil, water and small dirt particles, necessitating a review of the shop equipment and shop environment.  Over and over, the single most important factor when using waterborne paint is air quality and air movement.  Why?  Because when waterborne paint dries, a layer of water vapor / humidity occurs just above the refinished surface.  Air flowing across the painted surface will break-up this vaporous layer both increasing the time to cure as well as improving the overall quality of the finish.

Air quality and air movement can be improved in several ways:

  1. The use of handheld blowers and other drying systems.
  2. Inspecting piping and traps to eliminate the potential for oil in the compressed air system.
  3. Installing refrigerated drying units to prevent water condensation which carries dirt particles.
  4. Implementing a routine equipment maintenance / cleaning schedule.
  5. Use of a multi-stage filter system.

At we offer a range of pre-filters and final filters to create the perfect multi-stage filtration system when using and/or converting to waterborne paints.  All of our filters are designed and manufactured to the highest of quality standards and have been used for years in waterborne paint environments.

So when you think waterborne paint, think filters and when you think filters, think

 Posted by at 11:48 AM

Possible Shipping Disruptions

 7) Uncategorized  Comments Off on Possible Shipping Disruptions
Sep 102012

International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) and management negotiators are running out of time to avert a threatened Maine-to-Texas dock strike that is forcing shippers to scramble for alternatives.

With their coastwide master contract set to expire at midnight on September 30, 2012, the ILA and United States Maritime Alliance remain at odds over negotiation of changes to work rules and staffing practices, raising the prospect of the ILA’s first coastwide work stoppage in 35 years.

That Taft-Hartley is being mentioned as a possible solution.  This law allows the president to seek an injunction that could lead to an 80-day cooling-off period for labor disputes that threaten the economy or public health or safety.   The Bush administration used the law in 2002 to force an end to an 11-day lockout of West Coast dockworkers.

Shippers already are incurring extra costs for transportation and inventory.  Container ship lines report a surge in bookings for West Coast services stretched thin by the annual peak season for holiday imports. To meet customers’ deadlines for production or in-store delivery, importers and exporters are paying higher spot rates, absorbing longer transit times, and paying extra for inland transportation.

 Posted by at 2:40 PM

FAQs in the Waterborne Conversion Process

 Paint Related  Comments Off on FAQs in the Waterborne Conversion Process
Sep 102012

Volatile organic compounds (VOC) in paint have been recognized as bad for the environment; consequently, there is a movement to reduce VOCs and this will affect practically everyone who paints – waterborne.

The move to less toxic, water-based finishes is already well under way.  Waterborne paints are currently in extensive use in Europe and Canada, and many OEMs now use water-based paints.  A number of states around the country have enacted regulations that are gradually forcing shops to lower VOC emissions.

The consensus is that the transition to water­ borne finish products may not be as difficult or as costly as some first supposed.  Below are answers to several of the most asked questions regarding the conversion to waterborne.

Am I faced with a large equipment investment by switching to water?

Not necessarily.  You can switch to waterborne with no equipment changes and still get good performance.  However, to truly enjoy the production benefits that water can provide, we recommend investigating air movement equipment, especially in humid climates.  You should also consider a waterborne spray gun, a new waterborne gun washer, and perhaps an air filtration system if your current one is not performing well.

Will I need a “special” spray gun?

Spray gun manufacturers have been working diligently to offer painters a gun that not only atomizes waterborne paint properly, but also has internal parts that will not degrade or rust.  The spray gun you use now may work as is, or you may have to buy the appropriate needle/nozzle/air cap setup, or you may want to buy a new gun.

We strongly suggest using separate spray guns for waterborne coatings in order to avoid contamination and material clotting.  If water and solvent borne base coats are used in the same spray equipment this could cause equipment damage, contamination, and costly redoes.

In addition to the waterborne spray guns, we recommend the use of a disposable cup system.  Disposable cups make paint clean up easy and cost effective.  It also expedites color change, reduces time and material clean up and is safe from outside contamination.

What about my air supply? Will I need to make changes?

The use of waterborne basecoats definitely requires new air treatment tools.  When spraying waterborne paint it is required that the air is free of oil vapor and dirt.  Even the slightest amount of contamination can cause coating imperfections.  It is highly suggested that your shop is properly piped and has an adequate air filtration system.  Check compressor ratings to ensure it can meet the air supply demands of the equipment used in a shop – including dryers, filters, and spray guns.

How will the regional climate impact waterborne? What if I work in an area with large temperature changes and/or high humidity?

When working with water-based products it is extremely important to pay attention to proper climate control, especially in locations that have cold winters or exceptionally hot summers.

Two key components involved in working with waterborne paints are temperature and humidity.  Neither of these factors should be taken lightly.  Low temperatures can cause your product to freeze.  The optimal temperature that you should store your waterborne paints should be above 35° F.  If the temperature falls lower you could risk damaging your entire supply.  If your paint has experienced a shift in its color or if it has started to gel, then you are going to need to re-evaluate how you’re storing it.

Humidity plays a huge part in how quickly paint dries.  If there is too little humidity, then the paint will dry too quickly causing you to lose some of your luster.  Too high and some moisture will get caught beneath the clear coating, which will eventually cause “popping” and “blushing.”

Will I need to change my prepping and paint mixing areas?

The answer to this question is simply, “How sound are your existing principals?” If you were very focused on maintaining a clean operating environment, then any changes will be minimal.  If instead, you were a bit lax, then the adoption of waterborne paints will require changes.

Simply tips include (i) washing the vehicle thoroughly before work begins, (ii) keeping the floors and surrounding areas clean and dust-free, (iii) changing paint booth filters regularly, (iv) disposing of all used rags and other waste immediately, (v) not storing jackets, shirts, or other sources of fibers in the mix room, (vi) keeping paint canisters sealed and stored properly, and (vii) ensuring that the airflow system is working at all times.  Best practices call for developing a daily cleaning.

Will I need to use waterborne undercoats and clearcoats?

No.  Waterborne basecoat performs best when used with solvent-borne urethane undercoats and clears.

Are all waterborne basecoat products are the same?

All waterborne systems vary from each paint manufacturing company.  A huge factor is the shelf life and the stability of the product.  Blendability and tape times can differ as can the ability of temperature to affect the product.  All waterborne systems are made up of acrylic and polyester resins, with each paint manufacturer using different proportions and different combinations of the two.

 Posted by at 10:11 AM

DS-560 — The Premier Down Draft Ceiling Diffusion Media

 Down Draft Booth Information  Comments Off on DS-560 — The Premier Down Draft Ceiling Diffusion Media
Sep 062012’s DS-560 media is the ultimate product for paint spray booth final filtration.  It is a filter developed specifically to protect painted surfaces utilizing the most advanced technology in the filtration industry.

The DS-560 is a product which can be used in almost every application in the industrial painting industry.  The DS-560 is designed to be the final filtration level for Footnote booth air as it passes through to the painting chamber.  With modern painting techniques and clear-coat finishes, even the smallest of dirt particles can ruin a paint finish.  Particles of 10 microns or larger result in paint defects visible to the naked eye, so it is critical that the last barrier between your airflow and the painted service be designed to eliminate these paint damaging particles.  In addition to its filtration properties, the DS-560 serves as a diffusion filter to evenly spread air flow over the entire booth.’s DS-560 media is produced from a combination of materials that provide the finest in air filtration media available in the finishing industry.  The media is formed from a progressively structured synthetic fleece.  Each fiber is coated with a technologically advanced adhesive, which causes the retention of dirt particles.  The media is progressively denser from the air entering to the air exiting side to allow for maximum depth loading.  The air leaving side is treated with a reinforced scrim net backing that not only creates rigidity but also serves as a final protective barrier.  It is this barrier that also ensures any loose or broken fibers within the filter do not migrate into the paint chamber.

Contact us for a sample piece of this leading filter media and compare to what you are currently using.  We are confident we meet or exceed your current down draft filter construction.

 Posted by at 9:44 AM
Sep 062012

We constantly get asked, “Why should I change my filters?”  Here are a few thoughts for consideration:

  • Changing filters regularly ensures a balanced air flow as well as a clean and safe operating environment.  We all know that employee safety is the single most important issue for all operators of paint spray booths, regardless of the size of your business.
  • Create and then stick to a routine maintenance schedule based upon your production level.  As a general rule of thumb, paint arrestors should be changed every 2-3 weeks, cross draft intake filters should be changed every 3 months and down draft intake filters should be changed every 9-12 months.  Proper use of prefilters in a down draft operating environment will ensure the costly down draft intake filters operate to their fullest operating potential.
  • Remember that regardless of where you purchase your filters, they will not arrive yesterday.  Putting things off to the last minute will lead to operating disruptions, which means lost revenue and profits.  You wouldn’t hold off on changing the oil in your car, so why wait on changing your filters.  Plus just like a proper routine oil change, a filter change for your paint booth will result in better performance, less stress on components and, in general, longer equipment life.
  • Proper filter maintenance means your booth will have proper paint booth pressurization.  Over-pressurization causes overspray to become dirt in your finish; under-pressurization can result in poor overspray removal.  Balancing a booth to near zero pressurization will ensure the best result.
  • Just remember that changing your filters will extend the life of your paint booth.  And you paint booth is most likely one of the costliest investments in your business.
  • Lastly, it is important to take a step back every year to evaluate your airflow.  Start at the point where the air enters your system and follow it all the way through until it exits.  Is you manometer proper set?  Are there places where bypass reduces performance?  Basically, you’re working day-in and day-out.  You need a vacation to refresh your batteries; an annual air flow evaluation of your paint booth is needed to refresh its operating performance.
 Posted by at 9:39 AM
Sep 022012

The private equity firm the Carlyle Group has agreed to buy DuPont Performance Coatings, a maker of automotive paints and related products, for $4.9 billion as it continues its drumbeat of acquisitions.

DuPont is selling its coatings business, one of its largest divisions, as it increases its focus on food, energy and protection materials.  DuPont Performance Coatings manufactures paints for cars, trucks and appliances. It makes the bulk of its money, 43 percent, from sales to auto repair shop.

Carlyle Group said it had been attracted by the unit’s technology and brands, as well as its business in developing markets like China and Brazil.  DuPont Performance Coatings is expected to generate more than $4 billion in revenue this year.

 Posted by at 2:19 PM
Aug 152012

Hailstorms are extremely costly for U.S. auto insurers.  By several estimates, in June alone $1.7 billion was paid out to policy holders in connection with hailstorm damage.  The worst place to own a car was in Texas where storm damage has hit nearly 100,000 automobiles causing over $1 billion in claims.

The flip side to all this is that its great to be an autobody repair and/or glass repair shop in Texas.  And if you are already in Texas, you may want to consider expending into either Colorado and Wyoming, which were #2 and #3 in damages with more than $700 million in reported losses.

 Posted by at 2:30 PM
Aug 152012

Service King Collision Repair Centers, the Dallas-based auto body repair chain, is being acquired by affiliates of the Washington, DC based private equity, The Carlyle Group.  The deal was announced in late July and is expected to close in August.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Service King founder Eddie Lennox will retain significant ownership in the company and CEO Cathy Bonner will become chairman, representing Lennox on the board of directors, according to a release.

Lennox founded Service King 36 years ago with one location in Dallas. It has grown to 23 Dallas-Fort Worth locations, 12 Houston locations, nine locations in San Antonio and five in Austin. The company recently announced it was buying nine collision centers in Arizona later this year.


 Posted by at 2:02 PM